The short story as to how “Wicked Columbus, Indiana” came to be: My first book sold well enough that the publisher of that one asked me to write another one.
The slightly longer story is as follows:
My first book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” made The History Press some money. They didn’t get rich off it, because if they had, then I’d have gotten rich off it, too, and I’d have hired someone to manage my website instead of doing it myself. But sales must have been good enough for them to come back to me a few years later and ask me if I’d like to write another book for them.
They also said that my first book (2012) was really well researched and well written, which probably means they didn’t have to spend lots of time editing and asking questions, which would have cost them money.
They suggested that if I could find a similar case in the city in which I lived, I could write about that. But the case, if it was as dark as the one I tackled in my first book (the abduction and murder of an 8-year-old boy), had to be a pretty long way back in time as we didn’t want any survivors to have to read about such a dark subject.
The History Press had another suggestion, too. If I couldn’t find a suitable topic for an entire book, I could write a series of short stories on nasty stuff from Columbus, Indiana’s history. This would be part of the publisher’s national Wicked series. Again, nothing too recently and anything within the past fifty years or so couldn’t be too dark.
I decided I could probably do the Wicked book without too much of a problem. But I needed to wait a year as by that time, all the local newspaper issues, back to 1872, would be online at newspapers.com and searchable. And since I am an employee for the company that owns said newspaper, I’d have free access to those files.
A contract was struck and I did a lot of research and writing for the next six months or so. Besides those newspapers I could find online, I used several other resources for information, principally The Bartholomew County Public Library; Bartholomew County Historical Society; William Marsh’s book, “I Discover Columbus,” and the library in The (Columbus) Republic newspaper building.
I was also able to contact a couple of people regarding the most recent story in the book, the poisoning of Dr. Griffith Marr in 1977 at what was then called Bartholomew County Hospital. His daughter told me about the incident and my sister-in-law worked as a surgical nurse at the hospital at the time. Dr. Marr survived, which can’t be said for some of the other folks mentioned in “Wicked Columbus, Indiana.”
The book published around Father’s Day 2018.