Friday, December 10, 2010
An Interview with Author Chris Knight Capone
"Son of Scarface" is a book about healing and the tribulations of one man's lifelong struggle to identify the past and heritage hidden from and denied him.
William Knight, Chris' father, lived a life of assumed identity using a fraudulent birth certificate. While stories of William's life surrounded the young child, all Chris cared about was the love his father showered on him. When William died, a not-so-random comment at the funeral sparked the desire in Chris to learn just who William Knight was.
Merely thirteen years old, Chris took the first steps toward what would become a seemingly never-ending quest to know who he is. Decades and numerous private investigators later, Chris, and the documentation he possesses, hold little doubt William Knight was a son of Alphonse Capone.
But the reader needs to remember, this story is about the child molded in to the man he is through a father's love and a mother's abuse. Today, Chris remains a resolute advocate for the welfare of children. He has personally raised thousands of dollars for organizations helping children, and a portion of every book he sells goes to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Q) The first question has to be the obvious one. Why did you write "Son of Scarface"?
A) As my sister would sum it up for our childhood friends, my brother needed to get this off his chest. I used my 30's to focus on putting the pieces of the puzzle together of my father. I knew he was a Capone but I had to find the pieces of the puzzle so we could see the whole picture. The puzzle is nearly complete and what we see is an amazing story of shame, pain and tragedy for the Capone Family especially my father and his mother. Writing Son of Scarface was my way of keeping my father close to my heart, and also a way to share my story of courage, hopefully people will read and learn or change from it. Our life is about our memories, good or bad. The question I have always had is, How Can I make a difference. I have promised myself that I will not share my father's story unless its going to help raise awareness around child abuse and the effects of it on young adults.
Q) I am aware that little by little over the years, you and your mother have built a shaky bridge in an attempt to resolve the issues between you. Where does your relationship stand today?
A) My mother didn't read my memoir until 9 months after it was released. Apparently she went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a copy and read it. I wasn't aware of this until she called me one day, we talked about the usual things, and then she asked me, Would you really pull the plug on me if I where in the hospital? My mother initially told me I would go to hell for writing this book, and she has stated to me that my father would not be proud of me for writing in detail about the abuse and neglect my sister experienced as children. Basically my mother isn't happy that I have revealed her Mommie Dearest Tendencies. My mother is almost 70 now, she says that she is sorry I have had to go through all of this, she worries about my safety and has said, she is proud of me for telling the story. She says Thank God For You !! We have you to tell Bill's secret.
A) Writing and publishing my book was one thing, rehashing the trauma has caused me and my sister to relive our trauma as children and now I believe with new revealed information from another family member in a recently released Book Get Capone by Jonathan Eig.., I fear that I might be causing additional trauma within other peoples lives. I never wanted to be the one to come out and share my father's secret with people. And quite frankly the emotions encountered with members of the Capone Family have really made me think more then 1000 times Why am I doing this? I remind myself, every time of the life I lived as a child, it was very traumatic, very tragic, and very painful to put behind myself without letting it out in a healthy way. I am done with my search and I do not want to cause anymore trauma then what I already have lived through. Now I am focusing my life on my life.
Q) How has your sister handled the furor around your efforts to identify your legacy? And how supportive has she been?
A) While writing my memoir, my sister and I would collaborate a great deal on our life experiences as children. We also collaborated a great deal on what our father told us about his life when he was a child, when he lived with his parents at the Capone Estate in Miami Beach. Our father would talk quite often to us children about his life as a child, describing in detail his home in florida, the power of his family, the pain, the shame, and he would always use humor in telling us these stories, like for example, I could tell you who I am, but If I did I could really make your heads spin.
My Sister and I live with a hole in our heart as a result of our traumatic upbringing. Not a day goes by where we don't think about our beloved father. The impact he had our on our lives when we were children. He was a good man, a good father and a hard worker. He was a very sick man, with severe arthritis, heart problems, blood clots, fevers. constant coughing, ear infections, my father would tell us that he nearly died as a child from an ear infection. He was a VERY SICK MAN, and we as children had to watch him work, hard as a truck driver. Driving 2000 miles a week back and forth, crisscrossing the country in his rig that had 1000000 miles on it. This is an example of how strong my father was. Shortly before my father died, he had two strokes in Pennsylvania, he knew us kids wanted to go on our yearly family vacation, well, he gathered his strength and drove us to NJ, picked us up and took us down to Seaside Heights, he died right in my arms right when we entered the motel room. My father wanted to die with us and he did... God Rest his soul.
After my book was published my sister was put in the hospital for nearly two months, the anxiety, the flashbacks, and trauma revisited as a result of my book being published sent my sister into a place of great vulnerability. My sister needed to let out her pain and her trauma, and I think this book and journey I have undertaken since the day my father died has helped her overcome alot and has helped her become a stronger mother and has made her feel more confident about who she is. Before My sister was ashamed of who we were, I think this book has helped her share our traumatic childhood with her friends and family. I pray she keeps the strength and continues to work with me in raising awareness around childabuse and the affects of it on young adults.
Q) The vast majority of us cannot imagine the hole in your life you are trying to fill. What is the one real message you would like to leave with people from your experience?
A) Life is not Fair, You never know what you can expect, never assume, just be real and always respect the people who cross your path in life. If you have children, please be careful what you tell your children, what you talk about in front of your children, and please do not abuse your child, physically, emotionally or any other way. Remember to teach your child what you really need to be a a healthy positive person, teach your children the basics about life. And I would like to say you must believe in yourself if you want to accomplish a goal or dream you have set out to achieve. Stick to you heart, Stick to the Truth and Stick to the Dream.. Never Give Up !! We are Human, at death we are stripped of everything but our dignity and the memories we leave for our loved ones to remember us by. This I feel is what life is all about. This is something my father taught me and this is message I am sending to my readers.