Most of my family and friends know that I am writing a (kind of) memoir about my experiences as the mother of a Damon Anthony Moyler, son, brother, uncle, and friend who spent most of his 35-years incarcerated. In June 1999, a corrections officer found him unconscious in his cell at the Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Efforts to revive him failed. Some people have asked if writing about his life and death is painful.
At the beginning, I sorted and read all his letters, dating back to 1986. Based on names from these letters, I arranged private interviews with three inmates (through the NYS Department of Corrections’ public relations office) who knew Damon in prison.
Next, I had to petition surrogate’s court for a letter of testamentary to obtain access to information regarding his “estate.” With the letter, I could request copies of his prison medical and disciplinary records and the autopsy summary.
At the National Archives in New York City, I located documents (and prison photos of injuries) related to two civil suits Damon filed against RikersIsland correctional officers for alleged assaults against him. With funds provided by my best friend, Rose, I traveled upstate to the county clerk’s office in Lockport, NY, where I photocopied hundred pages of trial transcripts.
Armed with a voluminous amount of background materials, I began writing in 2000. Now, almost 15 years later, and after many, many draft revisions, I am doing the final edit of 23 chapters.
My next step: find a publisher or self-publish.
For all of you who encouraged and supported me, thank you. I hope that soon you will be able read our remarkable story.
- “Second Chance” is a short-short story that I am submitting to several contests in late July.
- Murder at Harlem General is in outline form.
- Backwoods Surgeon is a docu-novel based on the life of Dr. J. Marion Sims, who pioneered procedures and surgical instruments in women’s reproductive health. He operated on several slave women to perfect one procedure.