Damien Echols set for sit-down interview at Memphis startup conference

And now, as if the news surrounding “Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference” couldn’t get any bigger, well, it does.

Nibletz.com founder Kyle Sandler, who’s the leading force behind this inaugural entrepreneurship conference that’s coming to Memphis in a couple weeks, has confirmed that New York Times best-selling author Damien Echols will participate.

In fact, I’ll be sitting down with Echols for a “fireside chat” of sorts to talk to him about life today and how it differs – dramatically – from the time two decades ago when he was convicted and sentenced to death in Arkansas for the murders of three boys, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.

Echols, who was imprisoned along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, was released from prison in 2011 after nearly 20 years behind bars. The controversial trial and subsequent sentences for the three teenagers drew the attention of a number of high-profile supporters and celebrities – among them rock group Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, actor Johnny Depp, country artists the Dixie Chicks, and director Peter Jackson – who campaigned for the trio’s release.

The case shined a media spotlight upon West Memphis, Ark., and served as the basis for three documentaries: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.

Echols moved away from the area after his release from prison and this will be the first time he’s returned to discuss his life. But unlike myriad news stories over the last 20 years, our conversation won’t be centered on the murders or the trial.

Instead, I’ll be talking to Echols about his life before entering prison and how things progressed in the nearly 20 years he was in lockup.

If you think back to 1993 when Echols entered prison – Michael Jackson performed at half-time during the Super Bowl that year, Prince changed his name to that symbol and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” became the longest-running No. 1 single in pop music history – a lot has happened since.

Historical events, social changes and technological innovations have occurred at seemingly warp speed (remember the world before the Internet?) and Echols missed most of it.

That’s what we’ll talk about and if you’re like me, you’ll want to experience what should be an incredibly fascinating take on the world Pre- and Post-1993.

As a bonus, I expect Echols will offer some observations from the time he spent on the set with Jackson while he was filming “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

If you want to be part of this, feel free to submit your questions for Echols at crowdhall.com, beginning at noon on Feb. 8. Keep in mind that the discussion will focus on how Echols has adapted to life in the 21st Century since his release from behind bars, so offer appropriate queries. We’ll choose some of the most interesting ones to talk about during our chat that begins at 5 p.m. on Feb. 11.

To find out more about the conference, visit http://everywhereelse.co/.

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