In this nonfiction mystery, author Kevin Troxall revisits his hometown is Glasgow, Kentucky, to uncover the truth about the death of his childhood friend, Scotty Martin.
The murder of Martin seemed to be a hate crime against Martin's homosexuality. Troxall decided to uncover the truth about Martin's death and the corruption and homophobia that led it to be unsolved.
Windy City Times: Can you tell me about One Town's Son in your own words?
Kevin Troxall: One Town's Son is my personal investigation into the mysterious death of a childhood friend and what comes about along the way when I go back to my hometown to investigate.
WCT: How would you describe your and Scotty's friendship?
KT: As I mentioned in the book, I knew a Scotty in high school. He was a year younger than I was and in a small town you tend to know everybody. Scotty and I didn't actually become close until we were both in college together and we would see each other out and about; we would hang out. So, I actually got to know him a lot better during our college days.
WCT: The book focuses a lot on growing up in the South and the conservative views that part of the country tends to hold. Tell me about how that was for you growing up as a gay man.
KT: Personally, it was fine. I really didn't know any differently. ... I never really had any kind of trouble, no bullying to the effect that Scotty had.
So, for myself, it was fine. When I went back to revisit the story and my hometown, that's when I started to see more and more of the homophobes and the troubles that were probably there all along. I just never encountered it myself.
WCT: Do you believe the South is becoming more accepting of those who hold less traditional views or do you believe [it's] still behind when it comes to the rest of the country?
KT: I think they're still behind. The incident when Scotty died was in 2004. I went to revisit in 2008. It's certainly gotten a little better since that time. I know even from the release of the book how many people have come out of the woodworks and sent me these great, positive messages. To a degree it's better, but I will say that it's definitely behind.
WCT: What was it about Scotty Martin's case that stood out to you? What compelled you to tell his story?
KT: Honestly, I felt like I saw some of myself in him. We were both from the same small town. We were both gay. We knew each other. We had some of the same friends. I guess just hearing about what had happened struck a chord with me, mostly because I felt like that easily could have been me. ... How would my family have reacted? I wouldn't want that for myself and my family.
WCT: Can you tell me more about the research aspect of this book? And What were some challenges you faced while investigating and compiling research on the case?
KT: I think getting people to talk was the biggest challenge. A lot of people who were at the reunion that night didn't want to talk. It was a time in their life that they didn't want to relive, which I totally understand. And again, coming from a small town where everybody seems to know everybody, some people are afraid to say anything for that very reason because if they say something then, it might get back to someone else that they know.
WCT: What things came easier for you?
KT: The help from Scotty's sisterI was completely nervous about even contacting his sister, Brandy. ... I think a year probably went by from when I first started doing research and first contacting her.
She was more than helpful and everything just became easy at that point, to get information about her, about the family, about their life growing up. I mean she was an open book.
WCT: So, how long did it take you to write the book?
KT: About four years. It was about three and a half to four years of research and writing.
WCT: I know this is your first novel. So, were there any other stories you thought to publish first or was this a no-brainer?
KT: This was pretty much a no-brainer for me. Since then, I've heard from a lot of people that have had family members who have had cases similar where they don't think the police did the best they could have done or that law enforcement didn't take care of it the way they should have.
WCT: What do you believe the biggest problem was in Scotty's case, as far as corruption and homophobia go?
KT: Certainly, the botched investigation was up there in terms of us not getting this case fully revealed. I'm going to say that because it sort of leads to everything else along the way, the fumbling of law enforcement to collect evidence and to interview people when they should've. I think that was the biggest problem.
WCT: What do you want readers to take away from One Town's Son?
KT: If you feel that there's an injustice, stand up and speak your mind. Fight for what you believe in; that's what I want people to take away from the book.
WCT: Often in the LGBT community, some don't want to take a stand for certain injustices, in fear of becoming more isolated from their peers or society. What advice would you give to those looking to gain that courage?
KT: You just have to realize that you're not the only one. There is support from other people, whether they're vocal about it at the time or not. There are people who are behind you.
There were times when I didn't know what to do or what to pursue next. I just kept thinking 'I'm doing this for Scotty; I'm doing this for a reason and it does matter even if no one else cares.' You just have to keep fighting the good fight.