Convicted of Inspiration:
Interview with Shane Flemens
By Carin Chea
Author Shane Flemens' books, Conviction and Deep Conviction, aptly hold double meanings. In 2008, he was convicted of first-degree assault and served a decade in various prisons in Alaska and Colorado.
However, it was Flemens' spiritual and inner conviction that led him to write about his prison experience, including personal anecdotes from fellow inmates.
It is Flemens' raw authenticity and desire to help others that have made his books top-ranked on Amazon, and much loved by his readers.
Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Wenatchee, Washington, where people all over the world would come to exchange fruit and recipes. Now it's just a pretty place to retire. I had a farm; I picked cherries to help pay for clothes.
In 2008, I went fishing and got in trouble and was incarcerated. In 2010, I started writing about my prison experience. I wrote about one of the guys I met during my prison stay. He went around and told the other guys.
While I was programming and going to school and staying out of trouble, they were drinking and partying and robbing and pillaging. Before I knew it, everyone started telling me their stories.
When did you decide to write your first book? Was there an "a-ha" moment that inspired you to do so?
I never thought about it before I got into the [prison] system. I had been transferred maybe 9 or 10 times. I knew then that people would be intrigued by that because: 1) I had already talked to a lot of the shot callers, 2) Some of the staff actually liked me, and 3) I was also doing what the judge asked of me, which you'd think is common sense.
But, Alaska is ranked #2 in recidivism in the US. It was a rough, rough system. Once you get transferred, you get right back down at the bottom; you had to apply for jobs, for everything. I knew people would be intrigued by that.
I started reading the Bible, and started writing to my family and friends. I got good feedback and that's when I started writing. That was my first book.
Tell us about your books Conviction and Deep Conviction.
The first one made Amazon's top 100. The second one made Amazon's top 32.
The first book focuses on when I was locked up. It covered the first 7 or 8 transfers I was in. It talks about my family, Alaska, and the prison system.
The second book goes more in-depth, but adds fishing stories, some of the guys I met, and some of the stuff I did while locked up. God took a part in this. I started reading the Bible, taking faith-based programs.
I met many men from outside communities. It was a tough prison sentence, but I was pushing through to become a better person.
Could you share one of the most memorable experiences you had while incarcerated?
There were a few instances.
I spoke to a serial killer. I was nervous when I told him I wrote about him, but I told him "You helped change my life." I didn't know how he'd react. He was hesitant, but thankful. All the guys I wrote about were okay with it.
I was in Kenai. I was locked up or 3.5 years. I was programming. A lot of the inmates were getting their GED. We just did a fundraiser for kids, which had never been done before. A lot of the guys were changing their lives around.
It was also nice when my family came. I hadn't seen them in a while. My daughter, brother, sister and mom all came down. They came over for 3 or 4 days. It was nice.
What message would you like to share with your readers?
Anything's possible. I've seen men change. Even some of the staff were super thankful. One of the staff said that I might be one of the most inspirational and influential inmates he had ever come across. And we still keep in touch.
Do you have any works in the pipeline?
I have a third book I haven't written yet.
For more information, please visit ShaneFlemens.com.
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