Friday, July 16, 2010


Ron and Don are, like Bob Rivers, top radio personalities in the Seattle area. These guys have followed the story for a long time and understand it. This is a long interview, but it will save me from writing a lengthy blog post because somewhere toward the end it includes my telling of the incredible last moments of Colton's long run.  

Bob Friel with Ron and Don


  1. This is probably very premature. But do you have any idea when the book will be done? Is there a deadline from the publisher? From what I've read, they are going to base the movie on your book.

    Also, do you as a writer feel any pressure to achieve perfection now that this story is huge? This could take Bob Friel the Outside writer to internationally famous status. What's it like covering the biggest story of your life?

  2. Thanks... no pressure at all!

    As I said in a previous post, I'm not going to cheat this story and its important issues by rushing it. Along with the readers, that would also cheat Hyperion, the publisher, and my career as a writer. I'm not cashing in on a one-time big story, this is my career.

    I've been writing professionally for 26 years (and a lot of those have been very lean years: Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be freelance writers). My writing process is hair-pullingly painful because I try (and fail) to achieve perfection with each piece. I'd reached the point in my career, though, where I felt my cumulative life experience and my development as a writer made it the right time to turn to books.

    I actually had a proposal for a different book just heading out to publishers when I told my agent to hold up because I thought this story I was digging into (even before I pitched it to Outside) was something really fascinating. That was Colt.

    I plan on trying to beat the contract deadline for completing the book. Not sure if I can, but I'll do my best. I'm not going to say exactly what that date is right now.

    Movie? At this point I have not signed any movie contract to option my book. There's been interest from producers since the day the magazine article came out, but these things can move slooooooooow. An option, BTW, means that they give you a small payment in order to reserve the right to use you or your material for a certain period of time, with the promise of a larger payment if they ever actually roll camera.

    If the deadline and movie question is a roundabout way of asking when you'll be able to buy your ticket for opening night of "Taking Flight" or whatever it may be called, don't butter your popcorn just yet. Even though a studio wouldn't need a finished book to start pre-production (they could hire me to tell the story to a screenwriter at the same time I'm working on the book), it still takes about 18 months to two years for a Hollywood feature to hit theaters.

    Fame? Isn't important to me (I've been around too long to be impressed by that). What's important is good storytelling that engages the readers and, in this case, hopefully does some good regarding all those issues I've discussed in earlier posts.

    The short answer to "What's it like?": "Boom"

    That was my head exploding.

  3. I agree with Erin. This was a great interview, and kudos to Ron and Don for handling the story with genuine curiosity and compassion.

  4. The one question that burns in my mind right now... Will Colton truly give up crime for good after his sentence?

    He could be a great influence to kids around the country if they saw him turn his life around.

  5. Bob,

    How will Pam Kohler's hiring of an entertainment attorney affect your book contract, or will it? Will she try to prevent it?

  6. Carli: Great question.

  7. I only know about Pam's entertainment interests and representation the same way you do: From newspaper accounts. Her lawyer says that she's looking at possibly getting involved in a number of various projects. None of those are my book, though, and nothing she gets involved with will effect my book.

    My book contract was signed long ago, and it's me, alone, as a journalist/author writing about a story I've been following for two years, with more than 200 interviews (so far) with everyone I can find who knew Colton, chased Colton or was effected by Colton, plus all my personal experiences such as being a resident of Orcas Island during the entire saga, being eyewitness to the helicopter chases, personally knowing a number of the crime victims, being on the same island as Colt when he was captured, etc, etc.

  8. Bob,
    I just listened to your two radio interviews and in them you mention Colt turning and smiling at you in the court room. Don't you think that he did his research and saw that you had so much history in the Bahama's and that is why he flew to where he did. He knew you would follow him there.

  9. There has been quite a lot of interesting speculation about all of that... I guess I should devote an actual blog post to it. I will write it within the next day or so. Frankly and self-indulgently, I've been hoping for a day off. My wife, my dog, my friends, my blueberry patch -- they've all been neglected for a long time due to my focus on this story.

  10. Take a day off. Drink some fine wine. Enjoy the beautiful northwest summer.