Thanks! I appreciate it :)
This morning, I received an email from tumblr notifying me that this account “turned one”.
Lots of things have been going on behind the scenes since last year.
The idea of writing something about Israel Keyes morphed from my article, into a concept for a lengthy print biography, then into a graphic novel format in tradition print, then to segmented comics in free online format, which is where it has sat and lingered for months and months.
I’ll get to my point, but first, a “brief” history (and yes, I’ve omitted a lot of stuff) -
Last spring, I met with a number of people who were very close with Israel. I’ll keep their names and relationships anonymous out of respect for their privacy, and because it doesn’t matter who they were, aside from the fact that they knew Israel intimately as the person he was ninety-nine percent of the time. They are the people left to struggle with a complex sort of grief- the lies, the secrets, the conflicting feelings of loving and missing him but also the weight of knowing what he did.
I was on two shows on a 24-hour news channel, which was an eye-opening experience for me in how the media works. Unpleasant would be the most magnanimous descriptor I can use.
I was contacted by a producer who found my article, and was flown out to the east coast to appear on an episode of a t.v. show, talking about what I knew of Israel. I had zero interest in being on television, but I went because I both wanted to accurately represent him and the facts of the case and I desperately wanted to visit the locations in New York and Vermont which were pertinent to his life. I’m grateful for that opportunity, and my adventures across New England were, well, I don’t want to call them fun, but they were meaningful.
Over the past (almost) two years I have received threats and thanks and lectures and questions from people all around the globe. I’ve made friends I wouldn’t have met if not for Israel, and the article I wrote about him. I’m thankful for that.
I was contacted by the FBI, who asked me to submit a request to interview them- and was subsequently denied the requested request, based on the fact that they decided I’m not famous enough to be worth the Bureau’s time. I was treated politely by the investigating agents, and extraordinarily rudely by administrators (except for the PR person in the Seattle office, she was professional and polite). Everybody I had contact with in DC were condescending pricks and the whole ordeal was so off-putting that I’m still peeved, a half a year later. The best way I can describe it would be to reference Terry Gilliam’s great dystopian film, “Brazil”.
I’ve dealt with “cyber sleuths”, “psychics”, and “true crime” authors, all of whom were varying degrees of self-absorbed assholes. I’ve met interesting people, who want to understand what could drive another human being to do such terrible deeds. I’ve had incredible dialogs with neuropsychologists, amateur sociologists, and true crime buffs.
A little personal, but I began to suffer from severe insomnia and when I would sleep, I’d often wake up in the midst of panic attacks. As odd as it might sound to people who don’t know me, I worry about Israel’s child. The innocent kid who asked for none of this. The tragedies just keep rolling in for her, and you know what? I don’t want to add to the cacophony. I don’t want to write something that she might see, either next week or in five years, online. Someone else will surely write a book about him. And it will reveal the things I know which I’ve decided to keep close. And it’ll reveal new things. And that’s the hypothetical author’s prerogative. But it’s not mine.
I’ve decided that to align with my personal morals and ethics, that I should let sleeping dogs lie. I understand the argument that has been levied so many times- Israel chose to do these things- and yes, I agree. But that doesn’t mean that I want to add to the heartache of innocent people who just so happen to know, love, and/or be related to him. His choices were his to make, but so are mine. And I chose to walk away.
My fiction writing has suffered, too. I second-guess myself. I worry about how stories will reflect on my nonfiction, and vice versa. I put querying on my novel on hold. I started to worry about my writing for hybristorific, and other comics I do for tarwaterstudio. I started to second-guess my short stories and their characters and content. I’d never produced so much good fictional work as I have since late 2012, but I felt like I couldn’t show it to anybody because of parallels to Israel, things he’s done, things I’ve experienced.
This is my verbose way of saying that I’m putting Part-Time Devil on indefinite hiatus.
The world moves on. Israel’s family struggles to understand, and to forgive, and to reconcile. The victims are still dead, the people who survive them try to heal. The media continues to be awful, people exploit other people for fun and profit. I still can’t sleep worth shit. And I hope that if I’m wrong and there is such a thing as human souls, that Israel’s is at peace.
When I first started on this- December 3rd, 2012- my question was why. Why did he do the things he did. To get at that answer, I thought I had to ask other questions. Who was he? What happened? How could someone capable of so much empathy and love commit such callous deeds? Well, I learned all of those things. And more. And in the end, the answer to that initial question was simple. He answered it himself in the interviews with the FBI.
Thank you to everyone who read and wanted to understand.
Important PTD news, y’all.