Interview: This is such a fascinating true story, I must ask you, can we expect a movie soon, and do you own the book and film rights to "No Greater Deception today?"
Sydney: Yes, I own 100% of my book and film rights, and I do anticipate it will be made into a movie soon. I'm also expecting a major publisher to pick up my book soon and print it under its imprint. It's currently the #1 True Crime Autobiography, Biography, Personal Memoirs and Women Outlaws book on all the Top 10 Bestseller Lists. Film studios, movie producers and publishers should contact my contract attorney, Steven Borgman, at Vinson & Elkins to discuss their interest in purchasing an option on my identity theft trilogy. He can be reached in Houston at (713) 758-2222.
Interviewer: Is Sydney Dotson your real name, and is this a true story about your own personal experience?
Sydney: Although "No Greater Deception" is a true story about my personal experiences, some names, including my own, and locations have been "slightly" changed to protect the
privacy of all individuals. The events are absolutely true and somewhat bizzare if I must say so myself. For instance, the Anna Nicole Smith case was being heard at the same time our probate case was heard, and I'm still amazed that the reporters didn't find their way into our courtroom. Readers will
enjoy trying to figure out the real names of the characters and nearby cities and towns. One thing’s for sure, this book will put several cities in or near Galveston, Harris and Gregg counties on the map.
Interviewer: So would you describe "No Greater Deception" as a mystery?
Sydney: "No Greater Deception" is a non-fiction book that is definitely an action/adventure, mystery/thriller and
comedy like the Erin Brockovich movie. Crossing all publishing categories is proof that
life can be much more fascinating than fiction. My book contains dialogue and narrative that is typically found in a novel. It is written in present tense so readers will find themselves actively involved in the hunt for the truth. They will fell like they are discovering evidence and clues as my sister and I did in real time.
Interviewer: Why did you write this book?
Sydney: Like Domestic Violence, Domestic Identity Theft is often unspoken and goes undetected. No one likes to admit publicly that they have become a Victim, and of course perpetrators don't often brag about their thefts to others. Once I opened up and told others about my family dilemma, I found numerous families had experienced the same thing. I was shocked to learn that over 95% of all identity thefts are performed by family members on family members. That's a staggering number. There are also a number of obstacles in our justice system that need to be exposed.
Our Texas Justice System doesn't aggressively prosecute cases of Domestic Identity Theft because attorneys, judges, district attorneys and experts consider cases of this nature to be messy domestic cases they don't want to deal with or address. One district attorney told me he had bigger fish to fry than deal with our case. Honestly, he does get more exposure and press if he prosecutes a serial killer.
But, how large does a person's estate have to be before it's no longer considered a domestic issue, and is addressed as a felony? My father's estate was a very large estate. It was extremely difficult to get an attorney to take our case. They didn't believe us when we told them our stepmother forged our father's Will. When we did find an attorney, he was reluctant to help us prove our case. He wanted us to find the "smoking gun." So Heather and I conducted our own investigative work. The detective skills we inherited from our father were truly put to the test, and drew us even closer together. Our friends describe us as Nancy Drew sisters, Charlie's Angels and Sherlock Holmes detectives.
Writing this book has allowed
me to cope with my father’s death, work through the grieving process and get my life back into
order. I hope everyone that reads this book will make sure his or
her affairs are in order. I wouldn’t want what happened to
us to happen to anyone. While my story is packed with excitement,
mystery and adventure, the underlying message is that massive reform is needed within our Texas Justice System to insure there is equal justice for all. Incompetent, unscrupulous and uninsured attorneys must be disbarred. Judges must disqualify themselves from cases involving their relatives and personal friends. Beneficiary change form and notary seal processes are deficient and must become secure. Those who commit forgery must be aggressively prosecuted, and district attorneys must purge forged documents from our courthouses.
Interviewer: What was your father’s involvement with LBJ and
the JFK assassination?
Sydney: Much of my father’s real life remains a mystery to
many people, including his own family. I don’t know anyone
that knows the whole story. My father was a police officer, bodyguard,
deputy sheriff, police chief and an active Democrat in the state
of Texas. He seemed to know everyone, and everyone knew him. I know
that Dad went hunting at LBJ’s ranch several times, yet I
don’t understand why he packed dress suits, starched shirts
and boots for those trips. I don’t know where my father was
when JFK was assassinated. I thought he had gone hunting. In later
years, my father was one of Lady Bird Johnson’s bodyguards,
and Heather remembers swimming with many of her nieces
and nephews. Dad had some wonderful memories of Lady Bird that I
mention in the book.
Interviewer: Your father also knew Joe Bonanno?
Sydney: Yes he did. I knew Joe Bonanno as “Mr. Banana.”
He visited our home several times, and was a very nice man. He laughed
and joked a lot with my brothers and sisters and I. We were
so young and naive that we had no idea what the Mafia was or
that he was its leader. The only thing we thought was peculiar was
the red telephone that we weren’t supposed to answer in my father’s
bedroom. I’d love to know who was on the other end of that
Interviewer: When was the last time you met or talked to Joe Bonanno?
Sydney: That would be when I was a teenager. His name was mentioned
in our home several times after that, and Mother would say that
Dad’s involved in something he shouldn’t be, but the
word “Mafia” was never mentioned in our home that I
recall. Although my Mother was a housewife, she had great detective
skills too. She has some true crime magazines from the 50’s
and 60’s with pictures "circled" of several gangsters
that visited our home. I don’t remember all of them. My Dad
loved guns, jewelry and a good cigar. He was always showing off
his guns, and police officers and men were always showing off their
guns to Dad in our home. I have good memories of all of them. So
it was very normal for me to think about calling Bill Bonanno for
help during our court case. But my sister, Heather, talked me out
of it. She was afraid our stepmother might be the Texas Mafioso Madam.
So I didn’t contact Bill Bonanno until recently to ask him
to read my book and provide a book review.
Interviewer: I understand your father knew George H.W. Bush too?
Sydney: Yes, they met in the Midland-Odessa area in the late 40’s
and early 50’s when they were young trying to get rich in
the oil industry. My father said he and George were both dirt poor back then. They helped form several
civic organizations together, including the Chamber of Commerce.
I’m hoping George can tell me more about his relationship
with my father. I find it interesting that both of them moved to
the Houston area.
Interviewer: Did you and your siblings like your stepmother before your father died?
Sydney: We got along with her for my father’s sake, but I wouldn't say we liked her. My father
warned all of us kids about our stepmother and stepbrothers. They
had done some terrible things in the past, and he knew what they
were capable of. That’s why we felt certain that my father
had taken measures to prevent what happened to us after his death.
We never fought or had harsh words with my stepmother or stepbrothers
until she turned in a Will for my father that left her everything.
I haven't talk to her since then, but she approached me a few times during
depositions that weren’t pleasant. She’s a very evil
woman. Our forensic document expert warned me and Heather several
times that our lives were in danger. We knew it but couldn’t
let that stop us. Our goal was to find our father’s real Will
and do what we felt our father would want us to do. I’ll always
believe that Dad was trying to help us. The dreams we had about
him during our court case and afterwards are evidence of that. You'll learn about them in the book.
Interviewer: How long did it take you to write No Greater Deception?
Sydney: I wrote the entire book in two months. The hardest part
was choosing where to begin. Once it dawned on me that the basis
of our suspicions and hunt for the truth surrounded what I refer
to as “the fit” in the book, the typing started and
the words flowed at lightening speed. When I ran into writer’s
block, I called Heather to tell her I was writing the book and found I
had typed 100 pages already. My sister gave me more content to put
in the book and encouraged me to continue typing. When I reached
the end of our story, the book was over 800 pages in length. I found
out later that most books are under 400 pages.
The editing process took longer than it did for me to write the book. It was
definitely a team effort involving several fabulous women. Heather, Rene Cook-Garcia
and I were able to reduce the book by several hundred pages before I engaged
Lillian Sills of the Wordwright Company. Lillian did an excellent
job of forcing me to stick to the storyline, focus on what was important
and eliminate unnecessary diversions. I had to cut out a lot of
very interesting material. Heather, Rene and I loved all the fact-finding
diversions. I may publish the book in its entirety one day for the
Interviewer: Was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were
your earliest influences and why?
Sydney: My mother taught me to read and write before I attended
the first grade. Some of my most cherished memories are of her reading
nursery rhymes and poems to me at nap time. She and my father were
the biggest influences in my life. Both of them encouraged me to
make good grades in school and get a college education. In grade
school, Dad gave me a quarter for every "A" I made. In high school
he increased that to a dollar. Being rewarded for excellence was
a great motivator and challenge. It made me who I am today.
Interviewer: Did you always want to be a writer?
Sydney: The first time I thought about being a writer was as a child. I
loved reading the stories in the Readers Digest and often thought
that I’d send in one of my own stories. My major in college was Art and Education.
I selected Sociology and Psychology as electives and eventually
majored in Sociology. Reading and writing played a big role in my corporate
strategy, business development, sales and marketing careers at EDS,
IBM, GTE and Compaq.
Interviewer: Is this your first book, or are there others?
Sydney: This is my first published book and there are more to follow
this one. Writing family stories and memoirs is something that I’ve
done as a hobby all my life. I have wonderful memories of writing
poems and short stories as a child and reading them to my mother.
I later became the family genealogist and wrote stories about the
history of my family in America. I’ve also written my childhood
memoirs that I’ve shared with my older brother and will give
to my children. Of everything I’ve written, this is the first
piece of work that I felt must be published and shared with others. Whenever I speak about how my brothers and sisters and I became victims of domestic identity theft, at least one individual or more comes up to me to share a similar story. Some have said it's the first time they've been able to speak about what happened to them. I'm even more convinced today that I must share my story with others.
Interviewer: Is your father’s death the hardest thing you’ve
faced in your life?
Sydney: For me, it is. The death of a parent is an unbearable loss. Even
when you think you’re prepared to accept their death, you’re
not. It makes an adult feel like a small helpless child. It
also takes a long time to heal and feel like a normal adult again.
Each time my thoughts drift towards the parent I lost, I relive
the loss and feel heart-broken. By the way, I donate a percentage of my book sales at book signings to MD Anderson Hospital and The Leukeumia Society. I am hoping they will find a cure for leukemia soon.
Interviewer: What was the last book you read?
I recently read Wild Bill Hickok and Guns of the West. I love westerns. Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger are near and dear to me. Good guys
going after the bad guys to seek justice. This is the theme of my
Interviewer: What's next?
Sydney: Two more books, the Sequel and the Resolution, and hopefully
Interviewer: When will they be available?
Sydney: My sister
Heather and I are in an investigative mode for the Sequel right now, and the outline
for this book is coming along nicely. The Resolution will follow.
As for a movie, Jersey Films, the company that produced Erin Brockovich,
requested a film treatment. Heather and I formed a production company to co-produce our story as a film with a more experienced production company. Heck, if Ben Affleck and Matt Damon can do it, two bright women from Texas can too. We're communicating with several production companies right now. Keep your fingers crossed for us. I’d love to
see this book become a movie. Michelle Pfeiffer, Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, Meg
Ryan, Goldie Hawn and Julia Roberts would be perfect to play Sydney or Heather.