“Satin Pumps” had a long gestation. Over the years when I became involved in projects and my mind began to wander, I would think about writing a book about the time I was young boy and our family doctor murdered his wife. Then just as quickly as the thought crossed my mind I’d file it away in my mental piano bench as music to be played at some other time in the future.
About two years ago I discovered I had access to a well-known television crime show producer. I formulated about three ideas that I thought might appeal to his sensibilities and decided on the story of my family doctor as a limited series for television. After extensive research, I wrote a treatment and a scriptment (a longer treatment with more extensive descriptions and some dialogue) and presented it to him through a mutual friend. He took it home, but it likely ended up sitting in a back room of his home because months passed without my hearing anything. Even my surprise visit a few months later at a mutual friends’ birthday party failed to induce him to take a look at the project.
I next thought of HBO where I had some previous experience submitting to the Documentary Films department. The timing couldn’t have been better. My contact’s last day on the job was the same day I emailed him a query. He gave me the names of two people who were taking over his position and I forwarded the project to them. Again, months passed without my hearing back. I contacted the two people and not so oddly they asked if this were a documentary project. I had assumed that my original contact knew that it was not and gave me the correct forwarding contacts for a limited series dramatic project. I told the two new contacts that although the project was not conceived as a documentary project that it could work in the genre and I would be happy to rewrite for same. Whatever their reasoning they did not take up my offer.
I next had my film agent contact them to get contacts for the right department, which he did and forwarded the project accordingly. And there it has languished in a nether world of neither being greenlit nor rejected.
Months ago as I started to wait for a response, I began to think of the true crime book genre for the project. As I envisioned the book, it would also be a memoir of the time I grew up to give the project depth and color I thought it needed to make the story more personal.
Writing the project now as a true crime book would afford me the chance to dig deep into the characters’ backstory and motivations and make the people jump off the pages in ways they never could from television screens. I went back to my original research materials and notes. In the process of writing “Satin Pumps,” the true crime book, I came across things I had missed or discarded for the television series. I was able to compare contemporary period accounts with my personal knowledge and the passage of time to draw conclusions that others had not. I believe through the second phase of research I was able to answer questions about the case that were never answered at the time I wrote the treatment for the television series.
It was also interesting to go back to my childhood to discover what was going on around me culturally in an adult world that I had no knowledge of or little understanding as an eight‑year old. As a result, I thought I’d share some stills from my family’s home movies of personal events I write about in the book to contrast with press photographs from the Finch‑Tregoff murder case which are not published in my book. By seeing the stills from the color home movies next to the black-and-white press photos we are able to visually see and experience how far removed I was from what transpired just a few miles away from my home on that warm July night in 1959 when Barbara Finch was murdered by my doctor and I lay sweating in my bed trying to sleep in the stifling heat of my bedroom.
And that’s how the story begins….