The Corncrib Fort (Author Interview)

The Corncrib Fort looks like a scary crime thriller.  Any plans to turn it into a series?

No plans to continue as the story ends, leaving the reader to wonder if what happens next.

How did you come up with the story in The Corncrib Fort?  

Write about what you know, is the motto for aspiring writers.

I grew up on a small farm in the 1970s and 1980s. My brothers and I had many hay forts and tree forts. But our favorite was the fort we built in the old corncrib. I thought this would make an interesting and unique setting for the story.

In 1985 I took a job with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Before the Ypsilanti State Hospital finally closed in 1991, many of the criminally insane inmates were brought inside the walls of Jackson Prison’s Central Complex. I read many pre-sentence investigation reports and had direct contact with many sociopaths. I assimilated some of those inmates’ attributes into the story.

Can you tell us a little about the characters in The Corncrib Fort?

Many characters in the farming community of Thorn River are based upon real people, while others are fictional. There was an old couple that argued most of the day, who owned property with access to a morrow pit where we fished. She loved her Red Man chew tobacco and he loved his Buick. Many examples within the story relate directly to childhood memories.

The sociopathic character was partially based upon an inmate I knew in the late 1980s named Dominick Piccone. He had come to prison in 1942 for killing the judge who had sentenced him to a two-year term. I called him a “circuit breaker sociopath.” He murdered seven inmates during his fifty-plus years inside the walls. Each time, he handed the shank over to guards without any emotional change. A dead man at his feet, yet his mind seemed somewhere else. Somehow, he could break the circuit between stimulus and response. It was as though he were handing the guard an ink pen.

When did you decide to become a writer?

It was in the 6th grade. Although I didn’t like school and much-preferred fort building, fishing and farming, it was an assignment I had turned in that made me dream of being a writer. I only received an average grade on the paper, but the teacher praised me for having a great imagination and encouraged me to keep writing stories. It was in 2012 I finally wrote The Corncrib Fort.

When writing The Corncrib Fort did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

Keeping a storyline going with events that cover 25 years was more difficult than I had anticipated. There was a lot of going back and rewriting to make certain the flow of the story made sense.

What do you like to do when not writing?

I’ve been building and remodeling homes for forty years and enjoy the work. It’s challenging and there’s always a nice sense of accomplishment when finishing a job.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

My work can be seen on Amazon, Pinterest and other sites. I’m working with Fiverr promoters to bring attention to the book.