My Book Tour for Murder in Battle Creek

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I’m back in Virginia and emotionally exhausted from my book tour for Murder in Battle Creek – The Mysterious Death of Daisy Zick.  It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, but stressful.  You have to remember at these events anyone can walk up to you and say anything.  You have to be mentally on and focused.  As much as I like the public, I was surprised by the number of people who were taking time out to come and listen to me.

My first event was at the Battle Creek Historical Society.  I had been at a convention in Indianapolis Thursday-Sunday and had driven home to Virginia just in time to turn around and head back to Battle Creek on Monday.   The society set me up in the Carriage House which held about 20-30 people.  We quickly grew to overflow that building out into the parking lot! The folks there estimated about 100 people – though I think that was optimistic.  I got to talk to some wonderful folks like Jim Hazel and the current owners of 100 Jono Street (who had me autograph a book to the new owners that would be purchasing their house soon.)

Bear in mind this week when I wasn’t doing book tour stuff or driving around, I was working my day job out of my mother’s house in Wattles Park.

On Tuesday I met with the Historical Society to talk about Pump Arnold, one of Battle Creek’s more colorful criminals – then I went to Schuler Books in Grand Rapids.  The group was smaller but attentive.  It is interesting that true crime books surpass the audience of the city where the crime took place.  While there I got to connect with Dr. David Schock who wrote the forward to the book.  If you have never met Mr. Schock you are missing a treat.  One of his many talents is investigating cold cases.  We are part of a small brotherhood that concentrate on these cases.  His new book, Judicial Deceit is doing well – I recommend you pick it up.

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Wednesday was Ann Arbor.  I was interviewed by Cynthia Canty of Michigan Radio – NPR. She was quite polished – NPR never ceases to amaze me at the quality of their interviewers.  I then was interviewed for a local cable access news program, then spoke at the Ann Arbor Library downtown.  Daisy Zick’s newspaper girl was there, relaying stories of how she was nervous collecting from Floyd Zick because of his gruff attitude.  Fantastic stuff  – and moreover there was a good sized crowd there. \

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Thursday was an evening event at Willard Library (at the Miller Stone building).  I figured that a few people would show.  We had between 140 and 150 attendees!  There was a lot of great questions and interest in the case.

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The audience at the Willard Library Event

Friday I was in Kalamazoo at the Barnes & Noble.  Good turnout there too.

Saturday was an early morning interview on Channel 3 in Kalamazoo about the book.  I spent some time at Willard Library checking newspapers and old yearbooks, doing some preliminary research on next year’s potential project.   People came up to me in the library with the greeting of, “You’re that author aren’t you?”  Wow.  A celebrity in Battle Creek.  Apparently you have to move away to be recognized there.

The afternoon was consumed with the book signing at Barnes & Noble in Battle Creek.  Generally speaking I’m not a fan of book signings.  Usually there are bursts of activity and some slow times when you are sitting at a desk alone with a pile of books.  Not this time.  I showed up early and there were already eight people in line – and the line didn’t disappear for four hours.

A number of people tied to the book showed up.  Daisy’s granddaughter Lori showed up, as did Jim King, Daisy’s son.  Fred Ritchie came by too for a while.  Detective Steinbacher’s daughter showed up to get an autograph on both Murder in Battle Creek and on Secret Witness.  Numerous people came up and said, “We’re friends on Facebook!” and I’m sure we are…it’s just hard to juggle all of those friends and keep them straight.  Michael Cooley, Albert Cooley’s son, showed up too.  He had never really known his father.  I told him he needed to talk to Roy Bechtol – and low and behold Roy showed up!  The two of them talked for at least 45 minutes.  It was one of those rare moments when things just seemed to come together.

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Detective Steinbacher’s Daughter

Some former Harper Creek graduates came by as well…which was nice.  I apologize if I didn’t recognize you folks at first – it has been a few decades.  One of my best friends from those years, Greg Hartford, swung by with his new girlfriend who is having a very positive impact on his life.

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Roy Bechtol is in the white shirt next to me at the table.

For the most part people were incredible. They gave me advice on my writing, including a lot of support for my technique of including local history into the books.  I was selling almost as many copies of Secret Witness as Murder.  I even sold some copies of my new business management book:  Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  My wife was getting nervous with a few people that showed up at ALL of the events.  “You’ve got stalkers honey!”  Naa, I just had people that were fascinated, just like me, by this case.  I welcome such enthusiasm.  One person gave me a name to pass onto the police to look into, which I will do shortly.

Most that stopped by wanted one thing – to see the killer brought to justice.  They wanted closure.  Not so much for them – but for the King family.  There was a sense of community that came out from this book that I had never anticipated.

A lot of people asked what I was working on next.  I admit I am poking at the Maggie Hume murder for a possible book.  If ever a crime felt like it needed to be closed (next to Daisy Zick) it is this one.  I’m still considering if it is going to be practical or not.  I have to admit, after a week back home, I’m kind of hooked on the case.  No less than 26 people told me during the week that I needed to write this book.  That folks, is something we call a subtle hint.

Thanks again Battle Creek.  It was good to be home – and I will be back soon!  If you have a tip or lead – I encourage you to contact the State Police directly.  The truth is out there and I’m sure you folks will get to it before I do.

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4 thoughts on “My Book Tour for Murder in Battle Creek

  1. Sarah Barry

    People may want you to write the book, but trust me the family of the real killer does not want to be put in the spot light again. They tried to do the right thing the first time and were treated as criminals themselves. They say YES he killed her, then they were accused of giving him info. The house was searched, dateline put their faces in the opening of their show. The embarrassment this has caused them because they have the same last name is NOT right. They have NEVER broken the law and are the best people anyone could ever know. You do not know what they went through trying to free a man they knew did not do it. They did everything right and now the people of Battle Creek want to bring it all back up just to stick their nose in a place it does not belong. You sir, have the potential to ruin lives by bringing this story back up. Micheal’s niece has to go to school with that last name sir. He is a killer, and if you do this, the only people that will pay are his family that are good upstanding members of Battle Creek. Please don’t do this to intrigue the population that does not have to carry his last name. I beg you, to do the right thing and leave it alone.Research it for yourself and keep it to yourself if you want to know all about this awful act. Thank you.

    1. Author and Historian Blaine L. Pardoe

      I appreciate your comment. While Michael Ronning confessed to the killing of Maggie Hume (and Karry Evans and Patricia Rosansky) his confession was deemed less that credible by the authorities. Mr. Cress was arrested for the Rosansky murder – not Maggie Hume. Miss Hume’s killer has never, to my knowledge, faced the light of justice yet.
      I don’t write my books based on feedback from the community alone. I also have to believe that the book has merit – that there are enough twists and turns in the case to make it worth reading/writing.
      I factor in feedback from the victim’s family. That doesn’t mean they, or anyone, determines if I write the book. What determines it is my instincts and the access to the facts of the case. In Murder in Battle Creek, Jim King assisted me greatly and cooperated every step of the way as the son of the victim. When I wrote Secret Witness, the victim’s family did not want to talk about the case. That was understandable but I wrote the book anyway.
      When it comes to the family of the alleged killer(s) I generally am as respectful as possible, but at the same time they don’t get a vote as to whether I proceed.
      On cold cases, what drives me is two things – closure for the family of the victim and justice for the community. I make mistakes, I’m human…but this is what drives me.
      Your comment is important to me, but at the same time I have to weigh that against the overwhelming drive for closure and justice. While you have said I would be doing harm, I have had friends of Maggie reach out to me and say “write the book.” I place more weight on those responses.
      It is never my intent to harm anyone. I go where the facts take me when I do the research. I reach out to the victim’s and to the killer’s families for their perspectives. Some respond, some don’t. I am not heartless, but attempt to be fair.

      1. Sarah Barry

        So what you are saying is that a 9 y/o little girl that has never met Micheal Ronning and has no clue as to what he has done, but is forced to carry his last name in this community means nothing. You must have never had to carry the last name of a killer sir. People are cruel, they judge and they bully no matter the age. She will have to deal with your aftermath, at 9, while you sit in another state.That is a true bully. Of course you wrote the book anyway on the other cases after being asked not to, so that people can read it, you can make money off it, and they families get to relive that time again. So as you decide to write your book, know this children have his last name through no fault of their own, people are mean. They will end up having to live with HIS aftermath and YOURS. I will be praying for you, you will need it when a child is harmed by your book. The family of Micheal Ronning does NOT want to speak to you because they live in judgement of what he has done and will now have it brought to the forefront again. I will not be responding to this again, it is wrong that a child will have to live with this, and you are the one that will have to deal with that, maybe not in this life, but in the next for sure.

  2. lynn

    In 1985 my father committed a crime in a small town. The effect on children is incredible. I live in big city los Angeles, but can’t imagine how bad a small town is on a child. Feel free to email me about the impact a publisher had on my family..out of fpur siblings two killed themselves from all the teasing at school after a book was published.

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