Monday, January 22, 2018

A New Phase of My Development as a Writer

Yesterday, I completed the eighth of twelve planned drafts of my novel Blood Cries. The achievement has made me a bit reflective about my life as a writer, and I wanted to mark the occasion by summarizing my progress thus far. 

I've written maybe ten half-way decent short stories and published five of them in tiny literary journals, most of which are now defunct. I collected those five stories as well as two more and self-published them under the title Too Weird.

I've written two very silly novellas and roughly two hundred and fifty blog posts. Many of these posts were early chapters of a novel and many were chapters of two very silly novellas (a sic-fi and a romance parody respectively). Most of the others were very silly humor pieces such as reviews of books that don't exist and open letters to famous authors. Many of these short, silly pieces, as well as the two very silly novellas, were collected and self-published under the title There Are Sneetches in My Breeches.

I've written many drafts of an uncompleted novel, Dashboard Hula.

With my sister, Christiana, I've written several stories for children and self-published a few of them.

In 2012, I self-published a novel called The Reverend, which was loosely based on series of murders, and the subsequent trial that followed, that took place in the town in Alabama where I was born.

In 2015, I had an idea for a new novel based on the same events. Blood Cries is my second novel in the same way that To Kill a Mockingbird was Harper Lee's second novel: it's really just a complete revision of the first novel. 

I consider everything written prior to this book to be my apprentice writing, and, I believe, the completion of Blood Cries represents a turning point in my development. Therefore, I have decided to shed the nom de plume of my apprenticeship and using my actual name going forward.

Henceforth the name Christamar, Christamar Varicella, and/or Christamar Verisella will be used on this blog and as a literary alter ego in my writing. My older work belongs to Christamar. My newer work, for better or for worse, belongs to me.

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.