Each Friday night a small group of Quakers from Rochester go into Attica prison to talk to prisoners and sit in silence. The chapter “Silent Forgiveness” in Among Murderers details my first trip to Rochester and Attica in December 2007, my protagonist’s connection to the Quakers, and my personal struggles with religion and forgiveness.
I’ve stayed in touch with Judy Halley, who used to run the Friday night Quaker meeting inside Attica prison and who helped facilitate my first visit. Judy recently invited me to do a reading and a discussion at the Quaker meeting house in Rochester. I have never spoken in front a group that was more engaged and engaging, more insightful and intelligent than the one I met that night. (And the homemade cookies were excellent, despite Judy’s worries about the event. “Every time I got nervous I made another batch,” she had told me.)
Filmmaker Sam Avery, Judy’s friend, videotaped the event, and my friend Franzi Lamprecht helped me edit the video.