Texas Book Fest: Michael Morton, Edward Carey and the Flatlanders

Michael Morton, who spent 25 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, participated in a panel titled “That’s Not the Guy” with James S. Liebman, who details how Texas executed an innocent man, Carlos DeLuna, in 1989 in “The Wrong Carlos.”

Morton, whose book is titled “Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace,” talked about how he survived his long imprisonment, saying that his belief in God helped, but that he also always believed that the truth would come out. Lieban noted that DeLuna thought the truth would prevail as well, but said that it doesn’t always happen.

An audience member asked Morton whether he had ever forgiven Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson, who withheld evidence in 1987 that could have helped Morton’s defense in the case of his wife’s death. The questioner pointed out that two years ago, Morton was asked that question and that he answered somewhere between “no and I don’t know.”

Morton joked that on his some of his bad days he likes to “pull out my cellphone and look at (Anderson’s) mugshot.” (Anderson was sentenced to 10 days in jail after pleading no contest to felony charges of criminal contempt of court.) Then Morton added that he has indeed forgiven Anderson, but he noted that such forgiveness was for his own sake, and that such a decision had lifted a weight from his shoulders.

The day got off to a much lighter start with an 11 a.m. session titled “Beginning, Middle, End: A Trio of Trilogies.” It featured Austin author Edward Carey, author of “Heap House”; Deron R. Hicks, the Georgia author of a series of Shakespeare mysteries for children; and Adam Gidwitz, author of “A Tale Dark and Grimm” and other books.

Carey enlivened the proceedings with a slide show of his illustrations for “Heap House,” starting with his hero and heroine, then people who worked downstairs in the mansion that’s built on a pile of trash near London. Then he moved upstairs, to the unsavory characters who rule the extended family.

Hicks, a former lawyer, told of how he came to be inspired to write his series on Shakespeare, and Gidwitz offered his funny takes on tales from the Brothers Grimm.

Shortly after lunch, local author and music journalist John T. Davis read from his latest, “The Flatlanders,” but he wisely left the stage so that the overflow audience in the Music Tent could hear live performances by two members of the Flatlanders, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. They performed several classics, including “Have You Ever Seen Dallas from a DC-9 at Night?” and “Bluebird.” They were preceded by a lively event featuring the soulful Stapletones.


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