My Dad Zodiac ~ Donald Hubbard
I have written a number of sports books, had them published which is tougher than writing them, but book stores have closed and the publishing industry has grown conservative. Sports books sections have largely been reduced in size and in area in a store devoted to the genre.
I had to change and I did not want to write mystery books.
My agent contacted me and advised me to accuse my father of being a serial killer.
My father has been dead for 25 years, a perfect cut off date for some of the crazier mass murderers in American history, and my agent reasoned that my Dad was no longer around to be offended.
“It seems kind of sleazy, and I don’t think the rest of my family would appreciate me accusing Dad of being a psychotic killer.”
“Simple, cut them in on a percentage of royalties. They will be giving you quotes. There true crime books are very popular.”
“I’ll get back to you.”
I spoke to my Mom and my siblings and they gave me their blessing and fee contracts. I had a book to write!
The words flowed, after all my Dad wore glasses and in the police artist’s sketches of The Zodiac, Zodiac/Dad was always depicted with thick glasses. Like half the American males over the age of forty in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but people have long forgotten that. With contact lenses and laser surgery, far fewer people wear glasses today and certainly the frames are much more stylish, so it was easy to make it sound like only Dad/Zodiac wore those thick tortoise shell specs.
My Dad Zodiac did travel on business extensively to California, so it appeared credible that instead of grabbing martinis in the airport lounge, instead he went off on killing sprees. The cops could never find him because he was back in Connecticut watching Ed Sullivan before the bodies turned cold. I became convinced that Dad was Zodiac, and vice versa.
The book literally wrote itself, coming home from my NRA meetings or testosterone injections, I saw the keyboard to my computer typing away. In a few months I turned over my dreck to my agent, who duly submitted it to a dozen publishers.
Unfortunately, all of them rejected the manuscript, not because of its quality or lack thereof, but because too many other My Dad Was Zodiac books had recently flooded the market.
Obviously this saddened me, not having the opportunity to make money by falsely accusing my Dad of being a mass murderer. Passing rapidly through all the stages of grief, I suggested to my agent that my Dad had attended school in the 1940s and may have murdered the Black Dahlia.
“Nah, same problem as Zodiac, the market is saturated.”
“What if I make up a serial killer, the Connecticut Bludgeoner?”
“Connecticut is boring, the book would never sell.”
“What if I brought the British Royal Family into it?”
Originally from Georgia, Katharine W. Folkes is a "converted" Texan, enjoying "everythang" but the heat. She has had stories published in Highlights for Children and Cricket Magazines, in an anthology, Summer Shorts and my book, The Worst Five Months Ever, a middle grade book about bullying is available online through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. She is a member of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators.