From the beginning the story intrigued me and I followed the accounts of the trials in the newspapers. Later, I became acquainted with people who knew more, some a lot more, so I probed their thoughts until finally I decided to write something, though I didn’t know what. Though a lot had been written about him, I came to feel that a significant aspect of his story had not yet been told. For me, what existed of the literal truth, the what, where and when, was not enough to satisfy my curiosity. I knew there was a deeper truth, an interior story of the people in this compelling drama, so I contacted him and was pleased with his response.
My next issue was in how to tell the story. There were the known facts as well as the unknown facts, also Jerry’s interpretation of things, and mine, speculation about people’s motives---and of course, the CIA. In reading the various government accounts of his crimes, then listening to Jerry’s account, learning what F. Lee Bailey said about it---well, I wondered if all the facts weren’t open to interpretation. How much of the story was laced with agendas and personal feelings?
I agonized for months about how to proceed and indeed wrote a portion of the book with one style in mind, only to decide it didn’t work. I was paralyzed by something, things I didn’t know because I wasn’t there. I could imagine what probably happened, but I knew I had to stick to the non-fiction contract: tell the truth. I researched to see if other writers shared my problem of how to handle emotional scenes not directly witnessed. Norman Mailer wrote that “all writing is fiction,” and if you read Capote’s In Cold Blood you have to wonder if all the dialogue really occurred or was there some literary license given.
Finally, I decided to just stick myself in the corner of Jerry’s world and attempt to always portray the dialogue and emotional peaks and valleys without any depiction that could be viewed as patently wrong. I believe I have held true to this.