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Knowledge Base .: Meet The Author .: General Non-Fiction .: A Conversation With Margaret M. Stoddart Author of The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice

A Conversation With Margaret M. Stoddart Author of The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice


Click Here To Purchase From Amazon The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice

Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of is pleased to have as our guest Margaret M. Stoddart author of The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice.

Good day Margaret and thanks for participating in our interview.


Whom do you believe will benefit from The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice? What are your hopes for this book?



Bringing these events and this case to light after all this time can generate dialogue that may lead to corrections — corrections in assumptions, corrections in viewpoints, corrections in conclusions.


The case was never finished. One murder was never solved. Because of that we can’t be sure the verdict in the second case was just. People are still suffering from what very well might be mistakes that can now be corrected.


Although Edith never intended this book to lead to a review of Rusty’s case, I believe that would be fully justified given what I have gleaned from my research.



What motivated you to write your book and to devote a great deal of time to research?



I was incredulous at the way the case was handled. There seemed to be another agenda violently pushing everyone in one direction. With the encouragement of my family, I dug in with determination to sort it out.



What kind of research did you do to write this book?


I tracked down court documents obtaining most of them in person in West Virginia from the City Halls, Court Houses, libraries, and newspaper offices. Only about one percent of the material was available on the Internet since the case dated back to the early ‘80s. Four trips to West Virginia from my home in Ottawa, Canada included prearranged meetings and impromptu encounters with the principals and townsfolk. Some of the material had to be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.


I sent out letters and emails. Some people never responded. Others had passed away. I did correspond with Rusty Phillips to obtain his version of events and to question him on certain aspects that troubled me.


I read four years (1980-1983) of the Parson’s Advocate weekly newspaper on microfilm to understand the community.



How do you intend to market your book and will you be using the Internet? If you will be using the Internet, how will you go about it?



I bought a copy of John Kremer’s book 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. It is full of great ideas. As a result, I have joined several online writing groups, created a blog, set up a web site, jointed the Facebook and Myspace communities and will be linking to Innocence Project web sites. Word of mouth seems to sell more books than any other form of advertising. This is a natural for the Internet.

Networking with other writers has already gained me one speaking engagement at a local library. Other opportunities are unfolding. I joined Crimewriters of Canada and SPAN (Small Publishers Association of North America). I created a press release template that I will customize for each media source.

 iUniverse provided me with marketing materials as well. They have a partnership with Barnes and Noble where books achieving the Publisher’s Choice designation are placed in one Barnes and Noble store for several weeks. This is a great opportunity for self-published authors. I am hoping they will agree to place The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice in a West Virginia store.


What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?


Several of the key people refused to speak about the case. I couldn’t understand that after so many years. I thought they would be glad someone was interested in their experience after all this time. There is still a great deal of reticence surrounding this case.

Apart from the distance issue, I had to adapt to working in a different culture. Ways of talking and thinking in a small isolated mountain community presented a surprising challenge to someone from a large Canadian city.


Has your environment and/or upbringing influenced your writing?


My mother was always reading something. She took some writing courses later in life. Her sister was in radio and television in Hamilton in the 50s and 60s and more recently has written for a senior’s magazine.

My high school English teacher had a non-traditional approach to his vocation that made reading and literature fun. He is a highly regarded Canadian author (Brian Doyle, 2005 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature). 


What has been your overall experience as a self-published author?


So far I’m delighted. It has accelerated my learning. If I hadn’t gone this route I’d still be sending out queries and getting rejection letters instead of actively working on marketing my book.


How can our readers find out more about you and any follow-ups to your book?


Updates are being posted at 

More material on the case will be available on my web site when it is launch at the end of the month. Readers will be encouraged to engage in discussions on the book and the justice issues.


Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)


This book tells such an important story and raises such serious contemporary issues that I am committed to it until it gains its own momentum. After that I’d love to do something fictional involving philosophy and quantum physics. My inner self is working on that one while my outer self completes the true crime work!


Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?


No matter how big and daunting a task looks, looking at it doesn’t get it done.

Thanks for talking with me Norm.

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Click Here To Purchase From Amazon The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice

To read Norm's Reveiw of  The Chaparral Murders: Dollar Store Justice CLICK HERE


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