The scars of the Yogurt Shop Murders remain deeply carved into the psyches of Austinites – both residents new and old. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, four teenaged girls were brutally murdered while working the closing shift at the local I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt shop in North Austin. The case remains unsolved. Scott Blackwood was inspired to write “See How Small,” a novel examining the gruesome events that unfolded many years ago.
“See How Small” is not a retelling of the Yogurt Shop Murders. “It’s a different story,” Blackwood says, meant to “examine [the murders], probe it, and get at the heart of why it has this hold on us.” At the time of the murders, Blackwood was working at an alternative school where he was “teaching 15, 16, and 17 year-olds who had some hard knocks.”
Blackwood says he “came into work after the murders and they were just traumatized … some of the students were brought in for questioning.” The shock of the murders struck a deep chord with Blackwood that compelled him to put pen to paper. “We couldn’t protect our most vulnerable,” Blackwood says. “The case offers no real resolution. That’s something that’s haunted me.”
As a parent, Blackwood was deeply affected by the case. When his own child disappeared one day – just for an hour –it deeply impacted his writing. “I got a call from my wife saying Ava, our six year-old was gone,” Blackwood recalls. “It changes the way your life spools forward at this point – it’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” he says. “Alleyways that were once benign are now foreboding. Your future is blotted out in a sense.”
January 27, Blackwood will be launching his book in Austin at the Zilker Park Clubhouse. The event is sponsored by Book People, Jack White’s Third Man/Revenant Records and the Texas Book Festival.