Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Club: Interview with David Crow, the author of the award winning book The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story.

A couple of weeks back, I shared with you all one of my new favorite reads.  That read is a heartfelt and captivating memoir titled The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story (link) by David Crow.  For a summary and detailed review of the book, click the related post link below.  This novel did a lot more than capture just my attention.  It has has won multiple awards and has sold over 150,000 copies.

Knowing all of this, I reached out to the author to see if he would be willing to participate in the R&W book club and answer a few questions.  You couldn't imagine how excited I got with his quick reply and willingness to participate.  Ok, so I fangirled a little..  Without further hesitation, below is my interview with David Crow.

Q&A questions for book club ideas with author's responses

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Interview:  David Crow, author of The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story

1.  Your memoir begins with a recollection that you had at just three and a half years old. The following chapters recall events and circumstances at similarly young ages and in surprising detail. How were you able to remember life so well at such a young age? Or do you only remember the traumatic events so clearly?

It’s the intense moments and pain that are so indelibly etched in my memory. All of my early memories are traumatic, and I had plenty of terrible events to choose from for the book. The Crow family seemed to lurch from disaster to disaster with very little pause. I also went back to the locations multiple times and talked with family members and friends. I captured the events to the best of my ability.

2.  Whenever I thought that your family’s situation couldn’t get worse, it would exponentially. Despite all these traumatizing events, the ones that lingered with me the most were the tragedies endured by your younger brother. How is your brother today? Did he ever blame you for the incidents like a younger you feared?

 It’s hard to believe that Sam is alive, well, and doing great, but he is. Most of his accidents were caused by parental neglect and his complete fearlessness. He probably does blame me for some of the whippings, but he got me in trouble even more often because he would always tell the truth about what we did, even when it meant we’d get a beating. But I do have some regrets around Sam. I wish I had spoken up for him more and taken more of Dad’s blows, but we were both overwhelmed by what we faced on a daily basis. 

3.  After enduring years of neglect and abuse, did it impact your relationship with your siblings negatively or positively? Your older sister took on the mother role in you and your sibling’s lives, did she hold resentment for that?

Yes, sadly, our childhood experience damaged the relationships among my siblings and me. We were more like gang members, pitted against each other by vicious gang leaders—that has a lasting effect. Once we left home, we weren’t close for the longest time. We’ve worked to rebuild our relationships individually, but I doubt the four of us will ever be together except for an emergency. I think we remind each other of the worst times of our lives. I wish it could be different; we’re working on it.

4.  In between the mental and physical abuse, you would emphasize times when your father expressed care for his family. Did you do this on purpose to show the reader the different, complex dimensions to his personality or to emphasize your father’s long con?

 That’s just the way he was—very intelligent, very complex, and deeply troubled. There were times when he tried to be a good parent (albeit in his own way), but his behavior was dominated by his hair-trigger temper and feelings of inferiority, despite his boasts. He was a bomb ready to go off at any time—with moments of calm care in between.

5.  You seemed to have been aware of your mother’s mental issues from a very young age. Despite knowing that, you struggled with the thought of leaving her because of it. Leaving her behind under the circumstances you did must have haunted you for a very long time. How did you, if ever, come to terms with that? Did your mother ever get the help that she needed?

My mom finally lucked out and married a gentle truck driver. But she drove him and her adopted son crazy too. I think Mom needed more help than anyone could give. She was—and still is—an angry, emotionally scarred child who sees the world only from the perspective of what she needs and wants. She has never functioned beyond that level. All that, and I still love her. I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with her or with our history. I often wonder what I could have done differently.

6.  Just reading your book had me hugging my children tighter. How did your childhood affect your own parenting styles and family life?

Our experiences shape us, good and bad. My own parenting has been a mixed bag. Sometimes, I was so afraid of messing up my kids that I overdid it by trying too hard. Other times, I was emotionally absent. I was never what I wanted to be because I hadn’t come to terms with my issues. Fortunately, my children have forgiven me and we’re close, but they have many reasons to be angry and disappointed in me.

7.  Writing this personal memoir must have been exceptionally hard both physically and mentally. What was the toughest part of writing The Pale-Faced Lie and what was the most rewarding?

Writing my memoir was a bigger experience that I had imagined. The hardest part was coming to terms with all that happened, including my own abysmal behavior. The process was gut-wrenching at times, cathartic at others. The best part was finding peace and receiving support from family, friends, and readers. Most of the reactions to the book have been positive beyond my wildest dreams.

8.  When you wrote this memoir, you welcomed the world to some of your most personal affairs. While doing so, you allowed many other victims of abuse to relate to your situation and see your personal successes. If you could speak to those victims directly, what advice would you give them on how to break the pattern of abuse?

I hope I’ve helped others. Many readers have written to me along those lines, which is immensely gratifying. I’d give this advice to other abuse victims: First, forgive all that happened to you and those who did it. Second, honestly face what was done to you and what you did. Be gentle with yourself because the burdens placed on an abused child are so extreme that no one can get through it without a lot of damage. The forgiveness aspect will help you be gentle with yourself and others, increase your tolerance, and make you want to help others who have been through similar things.

9.  If you could be remembered for one specific thing in your novel, what would you want it to be?

Forgiveness. Hands down, that’s my most important message. Let go of the anger and angst, the guilt and the shame. Let it go so you can open yourself up to a better life. 

10.  Do you have any future writing plans? I and many others are hopeful that we will be able to read another piece of work in the near future.

I’m working on the next book, and I hope to have it ready before the end of the year. 



  1. I also don't remember big chunks of my childhood, but I do very clearly remember the traumatic events. It is sad how some people have been destined to live without a family. I can totally relate, sadly. Only us who've never had a functional family know what a deeply disturbing trauma that is and what kind of in-erasable impact it leaves.

    1. I couldn't even begin to relate, but I can empathize and understand that I don't really understand. This memoir is a quick read. You may get some comfort from it. If you do take the time to read it, circle back and let me know what you think. I read it weeks ago and I sill find myself thinking about certain parts that stuck in my head.

  2. My husband and I both had dysfunction in our families of origin and I have certain triggers that are unavoidable at times. I applaud the author for telling his story. Childhood pain and trauma is very difficult to talk about. My guess is that it’s because you are at your most vulnerable as a child and that makes it all the more humiliating and embarrassing to divulge.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that. I never really though about child abuse until I had kids of my own. Once that happened, I can't even watch a movie with a child suffering. It hurts me for them to hurt, and I can't even understand that type of pain.

      If you have the time, read this book. You won't regret it. I went into not really knowing what to expect, but am so glad that I did. If you do read it, let me know!

  3. I did add this to my reading list as soon as you first mentioned it. I think there are so many of us who experienced abuse, neglect, or trauma as children but we never have the courage to tell our story like David Crow has. I probably won't get around to reading it until summer break, but it's one read I am looking forward to diving in to.

    1. I'm so sorry that you all went through this! At least you rose above the statistic and did better for your own children. Sadly, it seems that abuse is a cycle that passes along through generations. It took the author until he was older than most of us to learn how to break the cycle and start forgiving for his own sake. Once you do read it, come back and let me know what you think of it. :)

    2. I think, for me, my childhood experiences were kind of the opposite of a blueprint I used for raising my children. I figured what my parents did, I would do the opposite. Not that is as a perfect parent, I’m sure I messed them up from time to time, but I’m pretty proud of how my girls turned out. I’ll for sure let you know what I think of the book once I read it.


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