We Are All Shipwrecks

One night in 1976, my mother Michele left me in a motel room in Hollywood. I was three weeks old. Her strangled body was found on a hillside the next morning. I was eventually sent to live with my grandfather, an Englishman who called himself “Sir Richard” and claimed to have been a confidant of movie stars, but who was actually the owner of an adult video store next to LAX. When he moved my family onto a boat in the LA Harbor, I found a home among friendly alcoholics and the city’s poor and forgotten. As an adult, I searched for the truth about my mother’s sad life and death, a quest that led me back to that motel room, that dark night, and two of LA’s most notorious serial killers. My story is about where we come from and how it shapes us, and how acts of neglect, violence, and love can reverberate for generations.

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Shelf Awareness calls We Are All Shipwrecks “a wise, contemplative, forgiving memoir” and in a starred review, Library Journal says it’s “an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love.” The literary journal Fourth Genre calls it a “stunning piece of work” and Bill Clegg, author of Did You Ever Have a Family, says it “reminds us of the power of forgiveness and its place in our lives.” David Haskell, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, calls We Are All Shipwrecks “heartbreaking, and, ultimately, life-affirming and full of hope.”

You can read more reviews here

Purchase at your local, independent bookstore, or visit BookShop, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

For a preview, read “What He Took” from The Rumpus or listen to part of my story at Texas Public Radio’s Worth Repeating.

A portion of the author’s proceeds is donated to Thistle Farms, a community that supports the recovery of survivors of human trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.


Detective Dudley Varney, one of the lead investigators on the Hillside Strangler murders, writes about my mother’s case, finding me in the dresser drawer, and our brunch together in his reminiscence from The Streets Are Blue, Edited by Gary Farmer. Click here to read the book in Google Books. Our story begins on page 158.