Thursday, August 6, 2015

Prison Trilogy- Author Interview (Whaaaaaat?!?!)


by Glen Aaron

Summary of Book 1 of The Prison Trilogy -- Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation... even crime!

When Jackie Bancroft's husband died in 1952, he left her an heiress to the income and value of The Wall Street Journal and one of the wealthier women in America. Almost 50 years later, Jackie would marry Ronnie Lee Morgan, a 50-year old gay interior decorator. Morgan was one of many clients in the active law practice of author Glen Aaron. This unusual marriage lasted until Jackie's mysterious death five years later. Throughout that period, Aaron became entwined in the personal lives and demands of the couple, along with handling many of their legal affairs. The huge money and property distributions made by Jackie to her husband, designed and handled by Aaron, resulted in a two-year federal prison sentence for Aaron. The first book in the trilogy is that story.


1. What an amazing journey you have been on! What compelled you to write about your experiences with the Bancroft/Lee case, Col. George Trofimoff, and your prison experience?
The writing bug had bitten me in college when I was acquiring an English degree at Baylor University. However, following a law degree at the University of Texas, I only had time for legalese for the next 40 years. I really hadn't thought about writing a book of any genre until I was assigned as a cellmate, Colonel George Trofimoff, at federal prison. For 13 months, he and I lived together in a cell about twice the size of a bathroom. As I learned his story -- and I had plenty of time to learn it -- I came to realize that the world should know this story. Later, I decided to write my story of how I “earned” my way into prison, which was based upon my legal representation of the Wall Street Journal heiress and her husband. Following that, my mind kept going back to the fascinating people I had met in federal prison, some really bad and some really good. I felt that it would make an interesting read. Thus, The Prison Trilogy.
2. Were you encouraged to share your prison experiences by others?
No, I don't recall anyone ever suggesting that. Most people who have gone to prison try to keep it quiet and a secret. My life has always been pretty much an open book, and by the time I got out of prison, I was already working on George's book. Little did I know that it would take me 10 years of interview, research, and writing, along with publishing to get the book out.
3. What do you want people to take away from reading this story?
I'm so glad you asked! Most families are too busy living their lives and getting by to know what goes on in a courtroom and how it works. If they think of it at all, they think of it in terms of unease and somewhat of a mystery. The truth of the matter is that, for the last 50 years, American civil and criminal justice has evolved and developed various tricks, nuances and prejudices that render unjust results. There have been numerous books written about this, but very few actually show how it works and what it is. Because George Trofimoff had his entire trial transcript in our cell, and because of my long experience as a trial lawyer, I was able to write a book that actually shows, under oath, what goes on behind the scenes that a jury never sees, and that leads them, quite often, to rendering an unjust verdict.
What I would like for this book, Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America's highest-ranking military officer convicted of spying, to do is to create enough controversy that there is a national discussion or debate about how our judicial system should be revised from the judges to the prosecutors to the ineffective decadent defense counsels and the rules of procedure under which they all operate.
4. Tell us a little about West Texas Authors and Artists. What was your chief motivation for starting this blog?
I was born and raised and practiced in West Texas. From Terlingua to El Paso to Lubbock to Abilene and back, I have spent a lifetime coming to know outstanding artists, playwrights and authors, and yet, there are many that I have not met.  The talent in this vast geographical section of Texas is beyond a scale imaginable. Some of the authors are published by traditional houses and are quite famous. The vast majority are Indies, most of them are equally talented, but have not had access to the big three publishing houses. Some of our playwrights have actually been successful off-Broadway, and many of our artists have had success in New York and Santa Fe studios, while many others, just as talented, simply haven't had the "who you know" connection.
My blog at introduces West Texas authors, playwrights and artists. I am constantly inspired by what I see in each genre.
5. You write about a large number of topics. Obviously, your background as a trial attorney has some influence on the topics of choice. But where does your interest for other topics, such as myths, terrorism and horse-trading come from?
Well, I see that you have certainly done your homework. Since going into Baylor as a very young man, I have studied the world's major religions, and even some that are of minor sect. As to terrorism, a good deal of my professional career was also spent as an international business and banking consultant, which required a good bit of international travel. In fact, I had an office in China, Panama, Belize, and of counsel, Great Britain. In those days, I had a Ludlum addiction, along with other geopolitical thrillers. On long trips, along with reading, I would take a critical look at such things as airport security, taxi and hotel danger, and bank exposure in various countries. I even visited foreign prisons to see what they were like (an odd coincidence, no?). It just became somewhat of a hobby during mundane international travel, and I think, instead of thinking that I could write a book, I always thought, "You know, I ought to contact Ludlum about this," so he can create a great story.
As to the horse-racing, I have owned race horses and represented many jockeys and trainers, particularly earlier in my career.
6. You write nonfiction, fiction, personal essays, and blog. Is it difficult to switch from one to the other? What are some of the struggles?
I also write a Sunday column for the Midland Reporter Telegram that reviews books written by West Texas authors. That, of course, covers many different genres, and I read a book a week for that purpose. However, that dovetails with the blog for West Texas authors and artists, so that it isn't as much of a burden as it may sound.
When it comes to writing fiction versus nonfiction, I cannot switch in the middle of writing one for the other. Nonfiction, of course, by its very nature, requires a great deal of research and documentation, and I don't know but it seems like a different part of the brain. Fiction, from my experience, may require a certain amount of research in order to make the plot believable, but it also takes on a certain daydreaming and offers a great deal of flexibility about, "Well, what should happen now?" at various junctures in the creative process.
7. What's next in the writing world for Glen Aaron?
I have two nonfiction books that I would like to write, one on mythology, and the other on atomic power versus eco-destruction towards the world's end. One of those I will begin on the writing process in January. Whether I get both written remains to be seen. And then, there is that yearning to return to fiction.

"Jackie had built an invisible shield. How she felt, who she was deep inside, was insulated by what might be called "Jackie logic." In a personal encounter, she could be brutally blunt by pointing out a physical imperfection or character defect of the person she was talking to. "You're too fat. You should do something about it." "You're not my friend. You just want my money." She used innumerable clich├ęs and platitudes for defensive purposes, designed to throw the other person off their game. Over the years, her repertoire grew with use. That "devil take the hindmost" attitude she had had since childhood gave her the confidence to not care what people thought of her. It was they who were after her, not she who was after them. On occasion, she would joke with me that this aspect of her personality was because her parents were first cousins.

"Wealth, extreme wealth, attracts a type of court, as in the days of Louis XIV, that some of these people want to be a part of. It gives them meaning to be seen rubbing shoulders with others of the coterie. Even if the Queen, in this case, Jackie, is not present, there is a sense of acceptance when the court is in session, each person wondering about the others’ special relationship with Jackie. Is it more special, more personal than theirs? This is the social effect of it: The pushing and crowding for pecking-order position, to be that special one who knows the lady just a little better than the next, or to casually say, "When I was having dinner with Jackie the other night…," or to drop some other offhand remark indicating one's special privilege with Jackie. None of this is so much about money as it is about being accepted and part of an honored, moneyed circle. To the social elite, real or imagined, you are known by the clubs to which you belong and those with whom you associate. If you can claim a special or private relationship with a powerful, rich, or influential person, then you are one up on the rest of the group. You are who your friends are, whether they are really your friends or not."

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    Author Glen Aaron

Glen writes both fiction and nonfiction from his forty-year career and experience as a trial lawyer and consultant in international business and banking.

His nonfiction work as the observer in The Prison Trilogy tells the tales, in chronological order, of how he came to be a lawyer for a Wall Street Journal heiress and her gay husband, and how that representation landed him in federal prison. That is the first in The Trilogy. The second book tells the story of his cellmate, Colonel George Trofimoff, serving life for spying for the KGB. The final book of The Trilogy describes the prisoners, Glen's experiences and takes a hard look at the American criminal justice system.

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