Friday, November 21, 2014

Guest Blog by Author Sharon Ervin

I have the pleasure of introducing a guest blogger today who has written a number of Five Star/Gale/Cengage mysteries. A former newspaper reporter, Sharon Thetford Ervin has a B.A. 
degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She lives in McAlester, Oklahoma, is
 married, has four grown children, and works half-days in her husband and older son’s law 
office as probate clerk and gofer. JINGO STREET is Sharon’s eleventh published novel. 
And now, here’s Sharon:

 Lethal injections in Oklahoma are considered the most
 humane way to dispose of evil-doers. In both centuries
 before we hanged bad guys (and dolls) in Oklahoma, or
 used firing squads. Later we invented and used an electric chair, affectionately dubbed by the press, “Old Sparky.”
 Eventually, however, as media coverage expanded and taxpayers began to feel personally responsible for executions, we decided capital punishment would be more humane if we restrained a miscreant and injected     chemicals to snuff him or her.
            The Bible says we are to put habitual evil-doers “away from us.” Death, of course, is the ultimate putting away. As a newspaper reporter, I covered several trials of people who were accused of and proven to have committed atrocities against fellow human beings.
            Once in private, after a devout Christian judge pronounced the death sentence, I asked if speaking those words––"I hereby sentence you to die by lethal injection"––troubled him? He said, “Not at all.”
            The convicted man had murdered––mostly women––on three different occasions. Twice the man’s attorney convinced juries that the accused was insane at the time he committed those acts. Twice jurors ordered him committed to the state department of mental health. When he had completed treatment and his sanity pronounced restored, he returned to society where he murdered another female. The trial I covered was for his third. Again he went with the tried and true insanity plea. The third time, however, was not a charm.
            Several of the people on Oklahoma’s death row are strong physical specimens. It occurred to me that ailing folks might benefit from those healthy retinas, tissue, hearts, lungs, livers, etc. Poisoning a whole person by lethal injection seemed wasteful.
            I didn’t mention those thoughts to anyone at first, afraid the theory might sound Frankenstein-ian. However, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. Killing a healthy, physically viable sociopath was like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
            I theorized some with law enforcement personnel, all of whom scowled. After thinking it over, some said a lethal injection destroys organs and probably renders other parts unusable. One thoughtful fellow mused that harvesting organs from a living donor probably would not be legal.
            When an Oklahoma inmate did not die on the table after receiving the lethal injection in April (2014), some suggested we return to one of our prior methods of capital punishment. Hanging would leave most organs and living tissue usable. A firing squad or "Sparky," probably not so much.
            My writer’s imagination began plotting a story in which a personable, handsome, prime physical specimen murderer became enchanted with a lovely, naive young lawyer, and she with him.

           That mental maneuvering created JINGO STREET, my eleventh published novel, this one released by Oak Tree Press in October. This novel introduces Max Marco, 36, who murdered his first man when he was eight years old. Growing up in foster care and institutions, Max was a product of society’s answer to unwanted children.
            Attorney Anne Krease, 22, grew up like a hothouse orchid, protected, sheltered, and naive. Under normal circumstances, these two should never have met. When they do, however, the chemistry between them is volatile. Tempestuous. Turbulent.
            Writers read the same news stories everyone else does. We process them differently. JINGO STREET is a product of reality mingled with my imaginings.

Note: Sharon welcomes your thoughts and comments.   


Alice Duncan said...

Wow, Sharon. Interesting post. I never even thought about lethal injection ruining body parts. Your book sounds fascinating. Yeek. Not sure I'm ready to think about these things this early in the morning :-)

Susan Oleksiw said...

If your book is as compelling as your blog, I expect we'll be hearing a lot more from you. The idea of using their organs to help others sounds humane but I wonder what that might lead to in terms of sentencing, etc. These things get wildly out of hand. I just finished reading a book on psychopaths, and I almost wish I hadn't. They're everywhere.

Mary Fremont Schoenecker said...

As usual, Sharon, your words resonate - Jingo Street "is reality mingled with imagination". Best of luck with your new novel.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Fascinating topic, Sharon! This is something I've never thought about, but then wondered if I'd want to have even something as small as a cornea from a psychopath. What if....

And congratulations on the publication of Jingo Street. I love the cover art and the story idea.

Carole Price said...

Love the title and an interesting post. You have quite an imagination.

Sharon Ervin said...

Alice, thank you for climbing right into my imagination boat and rowing along. I love writers for understanding the beat of the different drummer.

Susan, a psychiatrist friend asked if Max Marco came out of my head. I denied responsibility. He is a composite of inmates who appeared before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. One really old fellow said he's been in prison most of his life, that it was his home. He did not want to be paroled because all of his people were gone and he'd have no place to live outside. Made me teary.

Mary, you have understood me ever since THE RIBBON MURDERS came from Five Star/Cengage.

Thanks, all, for your comments.

Sharon Ervin said...

Patricia, I loved the "What if...." That's what sets us drifting into these imaginary places.

Carol, A lot of us are almost afraid to let our imaginations go. I love the quote about truth being stranger than fiction because fiction has to have some element of reality. Truth does not. If people doubt that, I refer them to a local newspaper.