This side of 'Paradise,' with Echols, Davis

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Damien Echols

Damien Echols (January 17, 2013)

Echols: I published a book that came out in September (called "Life After Death"). We've been on the road since then, doing a book tour. I'm already working on another one; I have lots of journals that I was able to save from prison that no one has ever seen before, so maybe someone will want to read those. And in January I have an art show opening of painting and collage work that I did while I was in prison. I don't want it anymore. There's too many bad memories connected with it.

My long term goal is to set up a meditation center.

Q: It's a tough economy right now. Is money a concern at all?

Davis: No. We don't worry about stuff like that.

Q: How have you made that work on a practical level, in terms of income?

Echols: It really is based on a lot of metaphysical concepts, the way we deal with money and the way we view money. I think the minute you get scared and start rationing out your pennies and things like that, it gets harder and harder.

Q: Well, for almost two decades you didn't have to financially support yourself or balance a household budget. This is a new facet of life you now have to juggle. What has it been like for the past year? Has it been a comfortable adjustment?

Echols: Not yet. It's more comfortable than when I first got out. For the first two or three months I was in a state of complete shock and trauma for a long time. I didn't get used to being in prison in a single day and I won't get used to being out of prison in a single day. It's a definite learning experience.

Q: Where do you live now?

Echols: Massachusetts. We moved there about two months ago. We went up there to see the Red Sox and visited Salem. We went back a couple more times and when it came time to leave New York, that's where we decided to go.

Davis: When Damien was released, Peter and Fran had a place in New York and it just seemed like the logical place to stay because we didn't have any other place to go; it all happened so quickly, we didn't have time to plan, so we stayed in their place until we could get our act together.

Q: Is there symbolism in the fact that you moved to Salem, a town infamous for persecuting the innocent during its 17th century witch trials?

Echols: We think of it like this: Salem made its mistakes a long time ago and learned from them, so it's a lot more tolerant than other places now.

Q: Are you able to envision a life where you're not asked to talk about this all the time?

Echols: That's what I live for. I mean, this is f---- miserable.

Q: The press tour?

Echols: Yeah. Just having to talk about it every single day, day after day. You never get a chance to rest, you never get a chance to heal. You're just constantly ripping wounds open again.

But if we ever want to have a sense of closure, this is what we have to do. We have to make the state of Arkansas understand that we're not going away until they do the right thing. And if we do try to just have a normal life and fade off somewhere, we'll never get that. We'll never be exonerated; the person who belongs in prison will never be in prison; and the people who did this to us will never be held responsible for what they've done.

Q: How has it impacted your marriage now that you live with each other and have to deal with banal day-to-day things like, "Hey, you left the cap off the toothpaste"?

Davis: This sounds weird to say but we haven't experienced that yet. I don't know. We've been so busy and there have been so many different transitions and changes. For Damien, just getting used to being in the world, that hasn't settled down. We're on the go all the time. I mean, we've owned our home since September but we've only been in it for two weeks. We don't even have the curtains up yet. So there's not much normal life for us yet.

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