What Happened to Exit 14?
I would like to thank the many people who supported me in my first writing venture by ordering and reading Exit 14. Writing it was a labor of love, despite the end result. In August, I made the difficult but necessary decision to unpublish Exit 14, taking it off the market completely. The book is based, in part, on the real life deaths of two siblings, Peter and Elizabeth Goumas, which took place more than 50 years ago. Of course, most novels are based, to some greater or lesser extent, on real people and real events as was mine. When surviving members of the Goumas family expressed the pain that my novel caused them, I sought out the counsel of a publishing lawyer who advised me that the law was completely on my side and who instructed me not to communicate with the Goumas family. Generally speaking, I feel that an author isn’t in a position to ask permission of people to base characters on them or on members of their family. However, because of the sensitive nature of suicide and because I do not want my work to cause anyone pain, I chose to reconsider my lawyer's advice. Below is a copy of a letter of apology I posted on this website as well as on social media in hopes of reconciling the matter with the Goumas family. I wish them well and send them my heartfelt condolences.
Dear Friends and Readers,
I want to share that I have unpublished my novel, Exit 14, removing it from all sales platforms (as soon as all platforms are able to discontinue sales and inasmuch as it is possible to remove it from these platforms) as well as from local libraries.
Exit 14, in part, was based on the real-life deaths of two siblings, Peter and Elizabeth Goumas. In the case of the deaths of the characters of Daryl and Susanna Novak, I drew upon specific details from newspaper accounts of the tragic deaths of the Goumas siblings more than 50 years ago as well as from memories of the incidents at the time that they happened.
I feel it is important for the Goumas family and for all readers of Exit 14 to know that I did not know Peter or Elizabeth Goumas personally and that I never met or spoke to either of the two. To that extent, any words or actions attributed to either character were strictly a product of my imagination and should not be construed in any manner as the behaviors of the two real-life siblings.
I recently met with a member of the Goumas family, and I would like to offer my most profound apologies to the entire Goumas family for the resurfacing of a dark and painful time in their lives.
Furthermore, because of the sensitive nature of their story, I also apologize for not having consulted with the Goumas family before publishing Exit 14.
Additionally, I am donating $1000 to the Peter S. Goumas Presidential Scholarship Fund at the Valley Community Foundation.
In conclusion, by unpublishing Exit 14, sharing this public apology, and offering a good will donation to the scholarship fund, I hope to make amends with the Goumas family.
Many thanks to the friends and readers who support my writing. Moving forward, I will be working on future projects.