Answer this question. Explain your philosophy of writing.
My life had been one of mistakes early on. A change occurred, leaving me with a lot of regret, loose ends and need to make amends. I began to find that I was not alone and that many others, in fact everyone, has a need to rectify things which they have done in the past, in order to live a fruitful, baggage free life today. Writing allows me to do this and I hope to reach out to those who may want to do the same. I believe we all have a story, or many stories and that we only know the truth behind the story through writing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I hated high school English but fell in love with it in college. When my church asked me to write an article for our newsletter, I agreed to a 750-word story. It was awful, trying to say what I wanted in that few words. I wrote several stories for the publication and enjoyed it. From there I began writing letters to my schoolteachers and was told by another successful writer that the work was good. That encouragement started me down a trail. I had been journaling for some time and began to find it and a need to expand it.
Why did you write this book?
As an attempt to come to grips for having spent 6 years of my life in prison and another 16 on parole for something I did not do and a desire to represent others who may be in the same situation. I want the public to know that the death penalty should be abolished, not because it isn’t just but that we are unable to be just in our decisions. Since I began writing it, the Innocence Project has uncovered hundreds of false convictions due to prosecutorial misconduct. A coincidence I never expected.
How has your upbringing influenced you writing?
I was brought up in a poor neighborhood with strong values taught to me. Arrested at 18. Joined the army to escape a dead end life. I rebelled against my parents and sought peers who did exciting things. I worked at a strip joint operating spotlight for girls who knew and visited Jack Ruby. Although I began to drink, do drugs and commit petty crimes, I still had good values planted in the back of my head fermenting. I have seen both sides of the coin. I regret none of my past, for through writing, I have made peace with it.
If you have a career outside of writing how does it fit into your life as a writer?
I am a drug and alcohol counselor in a Texas state prison and although it encouraged the writing of the book, it was not the impetus. I have written another book “Dear Mr. Madison” and stories for publications. I am a well-known, award winning craft artist who had been self employed for the last 25 years, giving me free time to contemplate my past and the things I love. I am an ex-convict and drug addict whose life was changed through the grace of God. Art is creating something from seemingly nothing, just as writing is. My work in the prison has inspired me to write more about the criminal justice system and will produce another book as well as some articles. My knowledge of the craft world and creative thought has brought me to a place where writing is just an extension of the same process.
Who will enjoy and benefit from reading this book?
I believe there are many people in our society affected by crime and drugs who will enjoy and be changed by this book. Those who are involved with it and those who are victims may see the elements of this disease in our society. I believe my book sheds light on our broken criminal justice system and may influence some readers to initiate change in it or themselves. Those who read it will hopefully be left with a new perspective on the subject. It is also a story of hope in the midst of overwhelming odds and how a person changes. Everyone needs to know that no matter how bleak the future looks, time will change things for the better if we prepare ourselves.
Name: Robert McCandless
Book title: “Insufficient Funds”