Get to Know Bitty Martin, Six Bridges Featured Author

Tell us briefly about your book.

Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town is a Hot Springs true crime that’s remained a mystery since 1966.

What motivated you to write it?

My junior high school friend, 13-year-old Cathie Ward, was dragged to death by a horse at a riding stable outside of town in 1966. The owner Frank Davis claimed it was an accident, but people began pointing fingers at him. Our parents and teachers never talked about Cathie’s death, so we never knew what really happened to her. It was hush-hush. Cathie had blossomed into a beautiful teenager and was dating the junior high school quarterback when this happened. She was our first friend to die—much less so tragically and suspiciously—and we never forgot her. Then something something spooky happened in 2014 on the 48th anniversary of her death that was my cue to discover the actual truth. (The story about this eerie event is in the book.)

What kind of research went into your book?

Over 60 personal interviews, along with microfilm/newspaper articles, cemetery records, government documents, internet searches, court documents, my and others’ personal memorabilia, copyrighted crime scene photographs from Bill Dever, historical real estate documents from the current ranch owner, prison documents, and the killer’s personal prison file.

What was your favorite part of writing this book?

I love to research, and I especially loved discovering all of the coincidences and connections that surfaced in my book.

What are you reading now?

Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone

What does it mean to you to be promoting your book as a local author?

My book came out in mid-May, and I never expected to receive all the phone calls and emails requesting speaking engagements. It’s been an eye opener. I was honored to be one of five authors to speak at the 1st Annual Hot Springs Book Festival this past spring. I’ve been giving book talks since March and am now scheduling into 2023. One fun event after my book launch in May was a
beauty shop book signing in June; turns out one of the hairdresser’s clients is married to a man who had been a juror at the murder trial! I feel that I have an advantage as a local author promoting a book, because so many people are familiar with bits of my story along with all the names and places. That’s what makes it a fun read and discussion, even though it’s a sad, heartbreaking subject.

Are you excited to see any other authors at Six Bridges Book Festival? Who/why?

Yes! I look forward to meeting Chris Pavone. I’ve read one of his books and am now reading his latest. I think it’s pretty cool that back in 2011, I worked on the north fork of Long Island where Pavone currently lives when he’s not in the city.

How old were you when your friend died?

My twin and I were 14 years old. Cathie was a year younger than us and lived a few blocks away.

Without giving anything away, do you resolve the mystery?

Yes, but there’s one question about our friend’s death that was answered in evidence at a grand jury trial in 1968 but I was unable to obtain. However, I’m hoping that I have now found a way to secure that one outstanding item.

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