Monday, September 19, 2005

Betty Ann Adam Rocks!

I'm very excited!

I wrote to Betty Ann Adam of the Star Phoenix last week to tell her about my novel, D'Amour Road. D'Amour Road is loosely based around the disappearance and tragic death of Louise Ellis, a member of my Milgaard group. As many of you know, I was the former co-coordinator of the David Milgaard Support Group here in Ottawa.

Louise was a freelance journalist who was interested in writing a book about David. Consequently, she attended the Supreme Court hearings to get more information about his case. It was there that she had her fateful meeting with Brett Morgan, a jailhouse informant, who testified that Larry Fisher had confided in him when they were cellmates; apparently, Fisher had boasted that he had once killed someone but someone else was doing the time for it. Louise admired Brett for coming forth with this information, which was dangerous for a convict.

No one likes a tattletale and I'm sure that it didn't make him very popular in prison. She struck up a correspondence with Morgan and traveled back and forth to see him at the penitentiary. Louise took money out of her own pocket to hire lawyers to get Morgan out of prison early. He was in for manslaughter -- should have been murder -- because he had killed a woman by the name of Gwen Telford in Edmonton (In many newspaper articles, Telford is only referred to as "a prostitute" which really pisses me off!)

Louise and Brett fell in love. She took him into her house when he got out of jail. He got a job and about nine months later, Louise went missing. I was part of the search team that went looking for her. Since Brett was actively involved in the search and vehemently proclaiming his innocence, it was awkward for all of us who were looking for her.

I met with Brett once in person and spoke to him several times on the phone. If I hadn't known that he had killed one woman and that his girlfriend was missing, I would've thought that he was charming. He was earnest and personable and appeared to be perfectly normal.

Brett led a private detective directly to Louise's body about three months into the investigation. He was charged with first-degree murder and was convicted largely on circumstantial evidence. He died of Hep C in prison; can't say that I shed too many tears over that. I was profoundly affected by the death of my cohort, Louise Ellis.

My novel is not biographical. I did not trace the exact relationship of Brett and Louise; instead, I asked myself what the situation would have been like if Louise and I had been best friends. How would I have felt then? What would I have done differently? How hard is it to balance the presumption of innocence with the realization that I don't want to be an idiot and overlook the fact that male partners are often involved in female disappearances; ex cons are even more suspicious!

In my book, I tried to make the male character a cross between Scott Peterson and Brett Morgan. The book is told mainly from the perspective of the best friend of the woman who disappears. It takes place in Ottawa and I examine issues like the presumption of innocence, the ever present possibility of a wrongful conviction, violence against women, midlife issues and unrequited love. You can read a preview of the book at or find it directly on Amazon.

Keep your fingers crossed that Betty Ann Adam likes it and that the Star Phoenix will review it. She has been writing about Milgaard for years and was not aware of this spinoff from the case. In fact, she told me that the inquiry only heard about Morgan on Monday when one of the ex-cops suggested that it would be nice to have Morgan testify (from Six Feet Under?)

David Asper also has a copy of my book and is trying to get it reviewed for me in between his scrapes with the Blue Bombers. LOL.

Sigrid Mac

Crossposted to my D'Amour Road and Milgaard Inquiry blogs.

No comments: