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Friday 5 April 2019

ℚ And Every Word Is True - Gary McAvoy

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about And Every Word Is True (, Literati Editions, 245 pages), a True Crime Memoir.

"McAvoy's disclosures are provocative, if not earthshaking; most notably, McAvoy echoes Capote's potent prose style and deep humanizing of his subjects, while broadening the conversation about truth, intention, and narrative representation." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"And Every Word Is True kept me absolutely spellbound. In painstaking detail, McAvoy has peeled back the underlying layers of a story we thought we already knew. I couldn't put it down." --
MICHAEL OHOVEN, CEO of Infinity Media and Oscar-nominated producer of the 2005 film
"Capote" starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

"As deputy sheriff in Garden City at the time, I can say without reservation that Mr. McAvoy has done admirable work here. He has clarified many of the 'facts' in Capote's book, and pulled back the curtain to expose many contradictions in the Clutter investigation." -- KEITH DENCHFIELD, former Deputy Sheriff of Finney County, Kansas, and son-in-law of Wendle & Josephine Meier.

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Gary McAvoy; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What compelled you to write, And Every Word Is True, where you revisit a very serious true crime?
(I must admit I am absolutely fascinated by historical letters and literary manuscripts, and therefore its link to your work.)

"Among my many fields of interest, I am also a professional historical manuscripts dealer. In March 2012 I was approached by Ronald Nye, the son of Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Harold Nye (who was the lead field investigator for the Clutter murders in 1959). Ron described what his dad’s material comprised—books and letters from Truman Capote to Harold Nye, along with Harold’s personal investigation field notes—and over the next couple months I prepared an online auction for the materials, one that received wide publicity… wide enough, in fact, that the Kansas Attorney General sought to stop the auction and confiscate what they (wrongly) believed was State property. The director of the KBI personally contacted both Ron and I to discuss turning over the materials, which we refused. A few weeks later we received a cease and desist, followed by a formal civil lawsuit.

In the early days Ron and I had discussed writing a book about his dad’s investigations, and it wasn’t until we were facing litigation that I discovered curious differences in the official Clutter investigation records, versus what Truman Capote had written about in In Cold Blood. That’s when the nature of the book project changed, later becoming the basis for our defense in court. So now it wasn’t just a matter of a son retaining his father’s personal property, it was in defense of our constitutional right to publish them.

Four years and untold legal expenses later, the Court agreed, and the judge handed us a complete victory, including the right to publish the materials. Over the next 4-5 years I continued deeply researching what I’d found in Nye’s journals and official KBI reports. A few months into the lawsuit I was contacted by Kevin Helliker, a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He and I continued fleshing out details of the closed case, and after he’d written a couple Page One articles about our story, he received and shared with me copies of death row letters from one of the killers, Richard Hickock. Those letters, I discovered, corroborated many of Harold Nye’s notes, so I knew I was onto something big."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in crafting And Every Word Is True?
"Evidence that Mr. Clutter was having an extramarital relationship, something not introduced in court for whatever reasons; and that Clutter was much more powerful in government than Capote described in his book. Both these areas of interest appear to have been sublimated, and could easily account for a very different motive than mere robbery (and murder) of the Clutters."
Why should we read And Every Word Is True and what sets it apart from the rest?
"No one else has access to such original, first-hand material by one of the principal investigators of the Clutter murder case. Though many others have found Capote’s work to be embellished, that’s not the real point of my book. This story is the first to challenge the official investigation of the murders, with good reason."
What has been your greatest challenge in writing And Every Word Is True? What was the most difficult part of this book to write?
"Apart from the lawsuit, which took a tremendous emotional and financial toll on both Ron Nye and myself, the sheer volume of information I had obtained from many sources was inundating. Making logical and sequential sense of it—at the very least, to live up to my book’s title, And Every Word Is True—was the greatest ongoing challenge."
Can you share with us a favourite passage / section from And Every Word Is True?
“It has been well established that Alvin Dewey, the KBI agent coordinating the investigation, provided Capote with ample confidential details of the crimes, including those with highly sensitive elements, the kind that gave the book such human intimacies as passages from Nancy Clutter’s private diary, containing her last entry written an hour before a shotgun blast ended her life. Apart from this ongoing and widely acknowledged ethical breach lasting years, given what follows, one is left to wonder if Dewey hadn’t actually been the guiding hand behind the story that ultimately appeared in print; the story the KBI itself has eagerly promoted for decades.” (page 71)
Who would you recommend And Every Word Is True to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"For those who have read In Cold Blood, And Every Word Is True meticulously lays out a vivid and startling new view of the investigation, one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they pick up where Capote left off. Even readers new to the story will find themselves drawn into a spellbinding forensic investigation that reads like a thriller, adding new perspectives to the classic tale of an iconic American crime.
No particular warnings or disclaimers, though I doubt those under 18 years of age will find much interest—I mean, we are dealing with a grisly murder…."
Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence? How has it helped you in your life?
"With a large dose of humility, I am largely self-educated in a wide range of skills, imbued with genetic intelligence, learned talents, and an indomitable persistence. If I need to get something done, I usually learn how to do it rather than depend on others (although I often turn to experts in a variety of fields outside my purview)."
What has been the worst advice you received as a writer and as Vice Chair and Director for Washington Software Association? What has been the best?
"In all candor, I‘ve never been inclined to perceive things as “best and worst,” so I’m not sure I can muster a proper response here without sounding cliché. One thing that does come to mind are the many naysayers who simply believe writers should “get a real job” and “come to their senses.” I find it’s usually uncreative people making such assertions, so they may never understand what drives the artistic spirit."
Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
"A brilliant question, and something I think about a lot; perhaps too much. When I was growing up every older person would say things like “Why, if I was your age, with what I know today…” and so on. In youth we never take such statements seriously—or we just take them for granted—and make generalized assumptions about “old people.” But it’s true. My mind today (I’m in my late 60s now) is sharper and significantly more informed than when I was 30, but the body doesn’t care about that; it continues to biodegrade while (gratefully, in my case) the mind simply gets stronger and more curious. I also find that unattractive characteristics, like being judgmental or argumentative, have little use when one gains deeper self-awareness, and it’s a huge relief being free from those burdens now. If I could give advice to my younger Self, I’d recommend caring more, reading and learning as much as I could, and move faster than I did. Time goes by so quickly, and there’s yet so much more to do…."
You worked with Jane Goodall and Gail Hudson on Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, which is incredibly topical currently; what is the key memory or experience for you from this collaborative project? Did you learn anything new or surprising?
"From a collaborative standpoint, I had the great good fortune to work with two of the most brilliant women I’ve known, who also happen to be writers. From a practical standpoint, despite Jane’s eternal mission of Hope, peeling back the dirty underbelly of environmental devastation was rather depressing for me. I’ve committed to a personal mission ever since that book, learning as much as I can about being a good steward of the Earth and doing what one person can do to make a difference—which is Jane’s essential message for us all."
Can you tell us about your writing process, and does this change depending on the focus of your current piece of work and who you are working with?
"I am completely undisciplined when it comes to writing, but I write—or do something to support my writing—every single day. While I am in no way manic, my interests, as I mentioned earlier, are quite varied, so “multitasking” would best describe my work pattern. I can easily shift from one task to another (usually when I tire of or am stuck on something), coming back to the original project right where I left it, fully engaged and reinspired. I work alone, the only distractions being the water and wildlife outside my windows (I live on a lake in the Pacific Northwest) or the two feline muses I have who help me better understand our collective world (see below)."
If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
"That everyone have opportunities to change their lives for the better, and they take those on in earnest (by default, everyone else would benefit in the process); that humanity at large take serious the global challenges we face with climate change; and that I’m able to ultimately find the perfect villa on Lake Como in Italy, where I can spend the rest of my days."
What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have?
"A loving and reliable life partner, the kind you see in tearjerker movies."
What’s in store next for you as a person and writer?
"I have another book in the works as a follow-on to And Every Word Is True, and I’ve been working on a novel for some 20 years that I swear one day I’ll actually finish."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My muses, Pearl and Truman."
Wow! Hello Pearl and Truman, you are absolutely they gorgeous babies! Lots of cuddles to both of you from all of us at BooksChatter :-)

Gary, thank you so much for sharing them with us and for being with us today. You've been brilliant!

"Thank you, Flora! This has been an enlightening experience. I write about myself infrequently, if at all, yet always find something new in me when I’m forced to do so…. Good luck to you and your own endeavours."
Newfound evidence reveals Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" is not the end of the story.

And Every Word Is True
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

I ave this book and after reading this in depth interview, I can't wait to start it!

CANDY Lynn HAUGEN said...

Very intrigued by the interview. I will have to look this book up.

Anonymous said...

Part 7 of Mr. McAvoy's book includes a family owned and copyrighted (2014) photograph of my father Starling Mack Nations that I never gave written permission for said author to publish in his book. Furthermore, the biographical information concerning Starling Mack Nations found in Part 7 of McAvoy's book is not original material written by said "author". Anyone who is interested may find the original written biographical text on the Kansas Historical Society website that was first donated by myself in the winter months of 2012-2013 along with my father's black and white photograph that I still have in my possession. I completed an extensive original written manuscript concerning my father's life, titled "INSIDE MY FATHER'S SHOES" on September 26, 2013. I donated a copy of the same manuscript to the Kansas Historical Society on February 2, 2014. The fore mentioned completed manuscript was then copyrighted on February 14, 2014, and later printed in paperback version, and is available for purchase through Taylor Printing, Inc. located in Pratt, Kansas. I donated copies of the Hickock/Nations 1961 letters to the Kansas Historical society for their preservation. I still have a copy of the original December, 1961 Male magazine, and four original 1961 handwritten letters from Richard Eugene Hickock on Death Row to my father, when he worked as a reporter and editor for the Wichita Eagle and Beacon newspaper located in Wichita, Kansas. I do not appreciate McAvoy nor his publisher for using my father's copyrighted photograph in his book without first obtaining written permission from myself in order to do so. I also do not appreciate McAvoy's attempt to claim credit for much he has written concerning my father, his background and my father's original manuscript completed in 1961 titled "HIGH ROAD TO HELL" as being based solely on his own original research. That proclamation could not be further from the truth. Michael Nations August 18, 2020.