Sunday, June 12, 2011
Now in Print
My novel The Snake Den is now available in print here. Of all my novels, this one holds a special place in my heart. I sailed a yacht from Olympus, WA, to La Paz, BCS, Mexico in 2000. On the way, I left the boat in San Diego for three months. I tied the boat up to her pier, made arrangements with the marina staff, and rented a car. From San Diego, I drove straight across California to Yuma, AZ, where the Territorial prison was for so many years. It is now a state park, and is well preserved. I walked the prison yard, inspected the buildings, went into the tunnel in the south caliche wall where the dark cell, the isolation cell, where a cube made of iron straps hangs a foot off the floor and gives the inmate only 5 feet of space, up down or sideways. This is the place they called The Snake Den. This is the place sidewinders and diamondbacks come to get out of the blazing Arizona sun. It gave my novel a name.
Records told me much about Yuma Prison. Books told me more. But in the records, one fact stuck in my mind. The youngest inmate in the Hell Hole was only 14 years old. The Snake Den is his story, or at least it is the story of a young man, only 14, who has been falsely accused of stealing beef and thrown in the Hell Hole. This is the story of how he survives. How he gets along with the Mexicans. How he deals with the king of the prison underworld. How he learns martial arts from an Oriental inmate, and uses those skills to quiet his heart and mind, and to overcome the guard sergeant who raped him.
This is the story of Shawn Brodie, and how he survived The Snake Den.