The genesis of Lane Bowden 1973 began in the aftermath of my mother’s death from cancer. Time is a funny thing in regards to memory, to this day, that time is surreal and blurry to me. I had published my first novella, Where the Road Roams, and had written some underground films, when I was approached to do a project about serial killer art. The films were in collaboration with Jason Swarthout who had opened his own art gallery at a space that had struck some notoriety thirteen years before.
Our mutual friend, the artist, Larry Crawford struck up a conversation about an idea he had about a play he wanted do. The theme was going to be about the showing of Elmer Wayne Henley's art in 1997 at his Hyde Park Gallery in the Montrose. Henley had started painting while serving life in prison. Henley along with David Brooks was one of two teenage accomplices to Dean Corll; all who were involved in the Houston Mass Murders form 1971-1973 taking the lives of over 29 young males (possibly, many more) in the Heights neighborhood of Houston, Texas. The controversy at the time was should serial killers profit from their deeds. The paintings were strange and benign in nature, from landscapes to sunflowers. Crawford agreed to put on the show and created a whirlwind of media attention and stoked the outrage of protesters including some of the victim's families. His idea for the play would have been the story told from when he was contacted by a third party to put on the show to the aftermath of threats where even a painting was burned on the street. The idea was intriguing, although, it just was not within me to write it. What struck me was the story from the early seventies. I wanted to write something about that, but first I would have to research it.
How does a coming of age tale of working class, troubled youth come out of such a potentially dark story? It develops out of trying to relate to a different side — a different point of view. I researched the true crimes and was overwhelmed with the horror. I did the Google search and due diligence with the old school microfiche of The Houston Post and Chronicle from August of 1973 and on. I even went to the Texas Room of the old downtown library — the one that is supposedly haunted — to read the hard to find Mass Murders in Houston by John K. Gurwell. It gave me chills reading that in that eerie, supernatural space. I ordered The Man with Candy by Jack Olsen and found chilling videos online from the era. At the time, those were the only sources. I knew I could not write from a serial killer's point of view, plus that seemed disrespectful to the real victims. I was intrigued by the time, the summer of 1973, and wanted to explore it more and find an angle I could feel comfortable, moving forward. The other side of the story is a victim's tale. I had to find a way to tastefully do that and it had to be historic fiction.
Lane Bowden 1973 is a coming of age novel of troubled youth amidst one of the worst crimes in American history during the summer of nineteen seventy-three. This will be my next novel. No official announcements at this time, as the manuscript is in the process of submission for the summer.