Angela: I’m one of those writers who really tries to balance home life and professional life-I’ve got two small kids, 3 dogs, and a husband who wants to spend weekends out doing stuff: playing soccer, riding bikes, taking the kids to festivals and concerts. Left to my own, I might sit around reading, writing, and listening to music all the time. Thank God for a house full of lovable distractions. And living in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina means that there’s always beauty outside my window-which can be a wonderful break from writing or the siren song of distraction. If I have down time, I really love to cook. I have a huge Asian cookbook and I’m determined to make my way through it, country by country.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Angela: I have a master’s in literature and finished all of my coursework toward my doctorate, so I’m well read in the classics. I enjoy connecting with writers of the past, particularly the nineteenth century, and I loved exposing college students to those works when I was teaching.
Outside of the walls of academe, I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. The first author I ever developed a loyalty to was Ruth Chew. I devoured her books! From there I went on to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series and all things Tolkien. These days I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, and I believe Terry Pratchett is one of the most insightful social commentators of our time. I also enjoy the supernatural patina of Southern literature evident in Sharyn McCrumb’s ballad novels. For pure laughs I read Christopher Moore. And Harlan Coben’s characters speak like I think, so I enjoy his thrillers immensely. I’ve read all of Sue Grafton’s mysteries, and was overwhelmed when she read my manuscript and contributed some words of praise for the front cover of my book, NO ROOM FOR DOUBT: A TRUE STORY OF THE REVERBERATIONS OF MURDER.
What made you want to write this book and how did it come to be?
Angela: I was working as a journalist and humor columnist and had decided to take on the challenge of writing a book. I was kicking around ideas when a victim’s advocate asked me to write her story. The woman, Jacque (pronounced Jackie) MacDonald, is a truly amazing person. Her adult daughter was brutally and mysteriously murdered in Modesto, California in 1988, and Jacque launched a one-woman crusade to find the killer and bring him to justice. Nine years later, Jacque was directly responsible for the perpetrator’s arrest. And while Jacque was learning about homicide investigation and how to work with the media to bring exposure to her daughter’s case, she began a television and radio show dedicated to teaching other families how to make the same progress with their own cold cases. Her show, “The Victim’s Voice,” is broadcast to millions of homes throughout central California. I have tremendous respect for this woman, and I was honored to tell her story.
What has been the toughest part of this experience for you so?
Angela: Wow. I’m going to have to answer this in two parts. What I *thought* was going to be tough was my personal connection to the case. Jacque’s murdered daughter was my step-mother, Debi. She was murdered in our home while my baby sister slept a few feet away. I was the last person to see Debi alive. And honestly, that’s not a part of my past that I shared with many people. But at the same time, I knew Jacque’s story could bring hope and understanding to people dealing with their own tragedies, so I decided to take on the task of writing the story despite the old pain that would resurface.
But my assumption was completely wrong. Once I started researching the case, I realized that my father (now deceased) had been the top suspect in the murder. Police had uncovered numerous motives and ample opportunity for my dad to have killed his wife. I was a teenager when Debi was killed, and my folks really tried to shelter me from the aftermath of her murder, so all this evidence was new to me. Seeing the case against my father through the eyes of the investigators, and understanding how that had affected him, was by far the most painful part of this process.
Has this book changed your life?
Angela: Tremendously. On a personal level, I understand so much more about my father now. Before his tragic death, I had sensed in him such guilt and sadness, and now I know the reasons. But I’ve changed in other ways, too. I conducted interviews for almost two years, and during that time I found out that this one violent moment of my step-mother’s murder reverberated across so many lives: the first responders, the investigators, friends, neighbors, strangers in the community. People are still being affected because of Jacque’s television show. That amazed me. I have always believed that our lives are intricately bound to many others, but I’d never before seen it laid out so clearly.
And when Jacque MacDonald was honored with the National Crime Victim’s Service Award, I went to the capitol with her and met so many other people who have lived through the worst that life could throw at them. These people are real heroes in a time when that word has almost lost its meaning. You look at people like that and say, “If they can survive their ordeal, what am I whining about?” It’s a powerful change in perception, and one that has made me a more grateful person.
Tell us why you think people should read No Room for Doubt.
Angela: Every person is faced with tragedy. Maybe it’s violent crime, or disease, or divorce, or the natural loss of a loved one. NO ROOM FOR DOUBT looks at average people impacted by tragedy, and it follows the wildly different trajectories of their lives. Jacque’s story is inspirational and hopeful. My father’s is one of tragedy. Other people land between those two extremes. So the implication is universal.
On the other hand, it was important to me to write a book that would be an exciting experience for the reader, so the story unfurls as a compelling mystery. That’s why I was thrilled to get kudos from Sue Grafton, who is the queen of the mystery genre. Advance readers have said, “I couldn’t put your book down.” A former FBI profiler (who’s now an international specialist in serial killers) called me and said, “You really nailed a lot of the nuances of investigation,” and then we had this awesome conversation about the case. Those moments mean the world to me as a writer.
Are you going to do tour for the book?
Angela: I will do some traveling, particularly in North Carolina and in Central California, but the modern book tour is much more technology driven: radio interviews, guest appearances on blogs and in ezines. That kind of tour works very well for me, since I have small kids at home.
My publicist at Penguin is currently lining up some appearances at independent bookstores. Indies are such a treasure for readers and writers, but unfortunately they are a vanishing breed. It’s important to me to support them as much as possible. And because I’ve been so touched by the plight of victims, I’m volunteering to speak or write for various nonprofits. As my schedule firms up, I’ll be adding those appearances to my website.
What the best part about appearing on Personal Justice?
Angela: That whole experience was fortuitous and strange. “Personal Justice” is a true crime show that was originally designed for The Learning Channel. As the name connotes, the show draws attention to people who have successfully found justice for their missing or murdered loved one. The producers wanted to profile Jacque’s story and brought me into the mix as both the stepdaughter of the victim/daughter of the top suspect, and (now) the resident expert on the investigation. It was a great opportunity for the book, and also marks the first time that any of the evidence against my father was revealed.
However, it was weird to meet the actor playing my father for the reenactments. I’ve got photos of the shoot on my website, and they have captions like, “Here’s ‘Dad’ mourning over ‘Debi’s’ grave.” I think the only thing that was more bizarre was when I saw actresses on a true crime show back in the 90s portraying me and Debi having our last conversation a few hours before she was killed. It’s an odd invasion of privacy for a good cause, with a side of “Oh my gosh, I would never wear that outfit!”
Our episode of “Personal Justice” will now be airing on the Discovery channel affiliate, I.D. I’ll have specific dates and times up on my website once I get word from the producers.
Do you have plans to do another book? What does the future hold for you now?
Angela: I look forward to writing another book. In fact, my agent and I have been kicking around ideas and I’m longing to hit the library for some solid research. However, I’ve put so much of myself into NO ROOM FOR DOUBT that I’m committed to launching that to the best of my ability. And there are kids to play with and dogs to walk and mountains to explore with my husband. I continue to write my humor column, and I’m supposed to be cooking a Sri Lankan dinner in the next chapter of my cookbook. I’ve got all this stuff I love to do and not enough time to do it in . . . That’s the best kind of predicament.
Angela Dove grew up in Modesto, California but moved to her family’s home on the east coast shortly after her stepmother’s murder. She taught writing and literature courses at universities for several years while pursuing her graduate degrees. Once she became a mother, Dove traded in her chalk for a keyboard. She now write for an arts and entertainment magazine, where her columns have garnered top marks from the North Carolina Press Association and earned a loyal readership locally and through her website at www.AngelaDove.com. She belongs to several writers’ groups and enjoy leading workshops in creative and business writing. Dove currently resides in the Smoky Mountains near Asheville, NC with her husband, Ira (an attorney and children’s advocate), their two young children, and three dogs.
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