Thursday, January 18, 2018

E Paul Jones Reveals New Details From 'To Kill A Preacher'


Anyone interested in the amazing true story of Reverend Will Maxwell, the alleged voodoo preacher accused of killing at least five of his relatives for insurance money in Alexander City, Alabama during the 1970s, can look forward to a new book by one of the men who investigated him at the time.

Appearing on the January 15th broadcast of The Front Porch, retired district attorney E Paul Jones revealed that his book, To Kill a Preacher, will be released in March. Mr. Jones was an insurance investigator who interviewed Reverend Maxwell in the early 1970s. He later assisted the prosecution of Robert Burns, the man who shot and killed Reverend Maxwell at the funeral of his final victim. 

Reverend Maxwell was charged with beating and strangling his first wife, but avoided a conviction by marrying the state's chief witness against him. His second wife was later found dead in her car. Maxwell had taken out insurance policies on both women. Other members of his family found dead on the side of the road included his brother, his nephew, and his stepdaughter. Legendary author Harper Lee traveled to Alex City in 1978 to investigate the story for a possible book, but none was ever published.

More details about the story can be found here.

Mr. Jones revealed new details about the case that were previously unknown to the general public and that will be expounded upon in his book, including the following:

1) Mr. Jones suspects there was a sixth victim, whose death benefited Reverend Maxwell.
2) Though his third wife, Ophelia, had taken out insurance on his stepdaughter, Shirley, Reverend Maxwell may have had an additional motive for killing her.
3) Ophelia was indicted in connection with the death of the Reverend's first wife, but the case was dismissed.

The full episode of The Front Porch is available here. Mr. Jones appears on the show around the one-hour mark.


David Brasfield is the author of Blood Cries, a novel based on the Rev. Maxwell story, to be published in 2018.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 2017 Update

Since my last post in August, I worked through through a complete draft of the novel Dashboard Hula and through a fourth draft of Blood Cries. 

Dashboard Hula now consists of three separate sections. 1) The Experimentalist - follows a Lucien Steinmann, a.k.a. Steimy, a precocious, peculiar, and hopeless experimentalist, from the second grade through college, at which point he creates a psychedelic drug and inadvertently helps launch a religious movement. 2) The Blue Whale -Siam Sam is Steimy's roommate, helper, and guinea pig for Steimy's hallucinogen, who embarks on an Alice-in-Wonderland style quest for truth in his bathroom, makes friends with a colony of cockroaches, and confronts their God, the Blue Whale in the Bathtub. 3) The Bible II: Philosophical Boogaloo follows the third roommate, Paul Tarson, a reformed drug dealer intent on starting a new religion.

For the first time in twenty years, I feel like I have a draft that holds together. At present I'm thinking about publishing them separately at first and later under one cover.

Right now though, I'm working exclusively on Blood Cries. I am four drafts in with eight more passes to go. I've set a deadline of mid-February 2018, at which time I will begin exploring routes to publication. Look for another update at that time.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Revising My Novel


As I mentioned last post, I've come to a discovery about myself and my creative process: I have to work on things in cycles. I have an idea for a book, or project, or series of poorly animated cartoons, and I work on whatever it is obsessively until I compete the project or run out of steam, whichever comes first. Last post, I mentioned that I was going to finish revising my novel Blood Cries, but something has come up that has caused me to alter that decision. I will share more on that momentarily. But first it occurred to me that different people might visit this site for different reasons, and I thought it might be helpful to clarify what it is I do around here.

If we haven't met formally, allow me to introduce myself. I consider myself first and foremost a writer. I write fiction, humor, and, of course, short, poorly animated cartoons. I sometimes publish my fiction under the name Christamar Varicella, though I might publish the novel Blood Cries under the name Chris Hope. I'll let you know.

Visitors to this blog will find three main categories of material.

1) Cartoons. Chances are, you arrived at this blog from my Youtube channel, Poorly Animated Presents: Little Donald and Friends. If you scroll back through the last 20 or 30 posts, you will find lots of cartoons making fun of Donald Trump. Thank you to those who have encouraged me to continue making these things (special shoutout to Jim Smith), and I promise I will get back to them as soon as I can.



2) Harper Lee-related material and excerpts from the novel Blood Cries. As many of you know, I have spent a good bit of time working on two books based on a series of murders that took place in Alexander City, Alabama in the seventies. In 2012, I self-published a novel called the The Reverend. Then, two years ago, I came up another way to treat the same source material, and I'm now several drafts into it. Beyond the cartoons, you will find the entire first draft (warning, it's pretty rough) along with a lot of material related to that book and about Harper Lee who, at one time, intended to write a book on the subject.



3) Humor. Going back to my earliest posts in 2009 (The blog actually went back farther, but I deleted the earliest posts for reasons that no longer make sense to me) you will find a lot of silly posts, some of which I used to publish a British humour site called thespoof.com. There is quite a bit of absurdist-style comedy and satirical material that was eventually collected and published under the title There Are Sneetches In My Breeches: And Other Parodies. The book is composed mostly of fake book reviews and silly open letters to famous authors, as well as the Sci Fi parody/Liberal revenge fantasy Dinosaur Ghost (which can be downloaded here for free) and the romance parody The Oiliest Secret.




And that's pretty much it. There are, I think, still links in the side bar to some of my early short stories that have been published in lit journals and around the web. Among them is a story first published in 2007 in the now defunct Minnetonka Review. It is called The Blue Whale. Which brings me to what I'm up to these days.

The idea for a novel called Dashboard Hula has been percolating in my brain since 1996 or so. "The Blue Whale" (published as "The Blue Whale in the Bathtub") was supposed to be an excerpt from that novel. Only I could never get a handle on it. It was just too big for me to deal with, and it always ended up as a bunch of disparate pieces that could never seem to hang together. Every year, I work on that book, and every year I put it back in the drawer after I try and fail to make it work.

Then, about two-and-a-half weeks ago, just after deciding I needed a break from making cartoons, I came on a sudden bit of inspiration. Rather than attacking the novel as a whole, I found a portal into one little part of the novel, the part called "The Blue Whale." I found the narrative thread I need to follow and hopefully complete that particular section. It looks as if it will become the first of a series of three novellas that will eventually constitute the novel Dashboard Hula, or else each section will balloon into a full-blown novel, at which point Hula will become a series. I will let you know when I know. Meanwhile, I'm planning to have Blood Cries workshopped through my writing group.

All that said, at the end of this draft, I fully expect to get back into cartoon mode. Like I said, these things run in cycles.