- Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Reclaiming Lives: Pursuing Justice for Six Innocent Men is part true crime and part memoir. The book’s main theme explores how wrongful convictions can and do occur while providing an uncomplicated overall examination of our nation’s criminal justice system. The story recaps the 1992 death of Green Bay, Wisconsin paper mill worker, Tom Monfils, and the resulting trial in 1995 of the six men who were convicted of murdering him. This high-profile case shocked the local community and to this day, its conclusion is still steeped in controversy. The book examines how the justice system failed the other victims in this case; the men and their families and reveals evidence that had been ignored by the authorities in order to justify these convictions. Readers will be captivated by the ordinary people who stepped in decades later to help correct this injustice.In 2009, I learned details about this case that deeply diminished my faith in the integrity of our criminal justice system. I could not fathom how easily innocent lives can be cast away to prison and forgotten. New research was already underway in this specific case which strongly supports the innocence of all six of these men. A movement to bring the case back into the courts had already begun. I could not dismiss the chance to help those were suffering, especially those languishing in prison for a crime I believe they did not commit. After involving myself in this noble cause it was important for me to document this tragic but hopeful story. I want people everywhere to be aware of the realities of our criminal justice system. I also want them to appreciate the power and necessity of taking a stand and making a difference.
- Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
As a fairly new writer I cannot say that I have mastered a specific process. Having focused on non-fiction, the most difficult aspect of my artistic process is to adequately portray the real people I write about.
- Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
It’s more about the topic for me. I gravitate toward non-fiction writers who highlight important issues and who share lessons learned.
- What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
Becoming a social justice advocate sparked my interest in writing. It was the obvious next step to sharing the knowledge of what I had learned about this case and the people whose voices had literally been silenced for decades. Writing became an important aspect of my ongoing work on their behalf. I became the messenger to convey their truths and their challenges. All they wanted was for others to hear then. Through my writing, I’ve done my best to provide that for them.
I sit at an old roll-top desk that was in my dad’s study. It’s never been refinished so it still has all the wonderful blemishes those in our family created. The tone of my writing stems from my childhood/young adult experiences so sitting at this desk always puts me into an appropriate mood for writing.
- When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to read but I love engaging in activities such as landscaping and creating beautiful garden spaces. I come from a large family (16 of us children) so I consider myself a social butterfly. I have to always be laughing about something whether it’s with family and friends. I believe laughter is a crucial part of achieving a sane existence.
- Favorite place to go to in Minnesota?
A favorite restaurant of mine is La Grolla in St. Paul. I mostly enjoy dining on their beautiful and cozy patio during the summer months.
- Where can readers find you online?