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I felt like I had very much, like Todd, taken a path of self-preservation. This was kind of after my conversation with [fire science expert] Gerald Hurst. They don't know who started the fire, but conveniently, the man who's in jail for drugs [and is sharing a cell with Willingham] says that Todd told him he was the one who did it. [When] I interviewed him, he was a very, very nervous young man. determined that it was an arson, and so everything shifted at that point. So then their motive shifted to Todd just being an evil person. Tell me about your meeting with the Barbees, Todd's neighbors. And then she went and got the mother, and the mother [Diane] came. One of the things -- and again, here is another element that was disturbing to me -- they were big about was, well, he tried to move his car out of the way; what was that about? I asked Todd about that, and he said, "In my mind, it was I get the car away from the fire," and I attributed that to any rational behavior that anyone could have in a fire. The house is burning down; your kids are inside; you're running around -- what do you do? " But every question I had, Todd had an answer for. and she seemed genuinely to feel Todd had not done this. She really convinced me that she felt that an injustice had been done. It wasn't like he would say, "Now, they're going to tell you this, but it's not true." He never said anything like that. When it seemed like I was going to really have to be there at Todd's execution, I don't think I could have done it. And the [car] accident made sure that I didn't have to go up there. When it comes down to it, we need to do what we need to do, which is to save ourselves. Had I been sitting on the jury, I couldn't have bought his testimony. The whole community shifted from compassion to hostility. But everyone knew it was a fire that was intentionally set; that was a given. So they just had to find out who it was that started the fire. And what they looked at were posters on the wall, which were the typical posters that young men listen to, the heavy metal; that he smoked pot; that he had this horrible past of crime, which turned out to be shoplifting and a bicycle. But that was one of the things that when I read that, like: "Oh, why did you try and save your car? He was like, "Go talk to my brother," or, "Go talk to my parents," or, "Go talk to my friends," or, "This person will tell you that." … After the “Wire”/”Sopranos” talk, we let Mike go so Dan and I could talk, as usual, about last night’s “Mad Men.” Our hope is to do a second podcast later in the week previewing the Emmys, but we don’t know yet if our schedules will allow for it.In the meantime, here’s the rundown on today’s show: As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the i Tunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us.A novel about extended adolescence (or extended adolescence in general) can become vague, wishy-washy, and meandering.

This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Jan. Can you start from the very beginning with your involvement with Todd? Someone asked me if I would like to write a man on death row, be a pen pal, and I was like, sure. I had been in a place in my life -- a relationship had ended; my parents were getting elderly -- I was kind of adrift. [The first time I visited him,] I walked in expecting to see a black man, the whole stereotype. And here was this handsome young white man who was very polite and very genial, ... [I'm just trying to envision what it was like to be interacting with Todd. He ran out of the house and couldn't run back in to save his children, and that was enough to get me interested. Those didn't seem to be heinous crimes, aggravated assault or something like that. Here's an example: I interviewed his parents, and his father told me that at one point he had been put in a reformatory sort of situation, and he got in trouble there, because what he did was he figured out how to hook up the cable for the kids who were being held there. There was really only one person who -- and I remember to this day -- he was a fireman, and he said, "You'll never know what you'll do when you're in a fire." Everyone else was like: "I don't care; I would have saved my children; I could have done it. But I could see how to women he could be a very charming, good-looking guy, especially when he was younger. But to me, I would kind of imagine [how] when I was teaching middle school, you would always have that kid who was wily and smart in the back of the room, that he would be doing something wrong and get away with it. And she seemed kind of reserved, nervous, just a person who had a lot of tragedy in her life. One time when Todd said that he got up, he told Amber to go outside, and he went into the children's room, I couldn't imagine. I feel that they did, that it was just a miscarriage. [Some have said that Todd was a charming manipulator.

I’m so looking forward to reading more about Persephones both old and new from all the participating bloggers.

I was still a relatively new convert to the Persephone cult last year during the reading week and it did so much to introduce me to titles I hadn’t yet thought of trying and to increase my enjoyment of the books I was familiar with through discussions with other fans.

I came back from that first visit with just an awareness of, how does someone endure that sort of a situation, guilty or not? I have a good friend, who was my neighbor at the time, and I told her about it. She had been a reporter, and she was like, "Let's go investigate it." ... And as soon as we read the records, then red flags started appearing. The idea that a prisoner would confess to a complete stranger that he had committed a crime -- I just didn't buy that. And the other thing was they had used a man that they called Dr. [My friend and I] decided, we'll go to Corsicana, and we'll see what the people in Corsicana say. We just started meeting people and talking to them, and the more I heard the stories, the more red flags kept popping up. After the conviction, and after Todd was on death row, Stacy decided to get a divorce. [What was the moment where you doubted Todd the most? and it wasn't so much Todd, but just the enormity of this horrible event, was in looking at the pictures of the children. I don't think they had really bonded yet with the twins -- they were still infants -- but Amber was very, very, very much a part of his life. And I think that's the reason I didn't react when I heard about Todd, and I read the letter and everything. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. posted october 19, 2010 Death by Fire home page / watch online FRONTLINE series home | Privacy Policy | Journalistic Guidelines | PBS Privacy Policy | PBS Terms of Use FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.

He's hired to come in and to make sure they get the death penalty by assuring the jury that this person just has to be removed from society. He was very enamored of Amber and would often talk about how she would say things to him, the things that she would do. I've read, too, that under trauma, that you have this ability to kind of disconnect from the experience. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words.