Thursday, October 14, 2010

Camille Kimball for Authors @ The Teague

When Camille Kimball appeared at the Velma Teague Library to discuss her new true crime book, What She Always Wanted, she talked about the important people that had shown up for her recent programs.  When she appeared at the Poisoned Pen, six of the jurors in the Orbin case showed up.  But, she said the most important people had shown up at Velma Teague, but she'd introduce them in a few minutes.

Camille described What She Always Wanted as the story of a woman who had the chance for a loving life with a wonderful man, and it wasn't enough for her.  Jay Orbin was a dealer in Southwestern jewelry.  His wife, Marjorie, was a Scottsdale wife and mother who had once even appeared on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.  But, Jay Orbin made a sales run to Florida, and was not seen again by family or friends in Arizona.  On Oct. 23, 2004, his remains were found in a bin in the desert.  Six weeks later, Marjorie was arrested.

In the audience at Velma Teague were Jay's brother, Jake Orbin, and his wife, Shelly.  They are the guardians for Jay's son.  And, Camille said she writes true crime books to bring justice to those who are hurting.  When Kimball received a call from her agent, asking if she wanted to write the book, she was at a car wash.  She told her she couldn't hear her. Could she call her back. The agent said they were in an editorial meeting right then, and needed a yes or no.  So, Camille called Jake, and talked to him.  He said it was alright with him, although he really didn't know Kimball at the time.  He had faith that she would write something the family would be satisfied with.  And, when she first received her copy, she gave one to Jake to read.  He called the next day, saying thank you.

There are sixteen photos in the book, which is typical for a true crime book.  But, Kimball had a number of photos not in the book, so she showed slides and discussed them.  She began by showing the book cover.  That's a picture of Marjorie Orbin, in jail, when Kimball interviewed her.  Patrick Milliken, who works at the Poisoned Pen, took the picture.  Patrick is himself an author, who writes and edits short stories.  He's the editor of the collection, Phoenix Noir.  Patrick accompanied Kimball when she went to the jail to see Marjorie.  Marjorie didn't know who was coming to see her, because the prisoners are not told who their visitors are.  But, she talked to Camille right away.  Kimball visited with Marjorie twice, and then Marjorie was moved to the state prison.  The state prison won't allow visitors to bring in media tools, and Kimball wasn't going to interview Marjorie without a tape recorder, because Marjorie had strong opinions, and wasn't afraid to express them.  After that, the two exchanged letters.

One of the slides was showing Marjorie at the top of a pyramid of girls in high school in Florida.  People said Marjoire always liked to be at the top of the heap.  Eventually, she entered the world of stripping.  One picture showed Michael J. Peter, who she took up with when she was stripping.  He was an important man in her life.  As a well-known impresario in the stripping business, Peter had access to private yachts, islands, and the jet-setting world.  At his side, Marjorie enjoyed that world.
Marjorie split with Peter because he had women throwing themselves at him.

Then, there were pictures of Jay Orbin,, who promised to give Marjorie "What she always wanted," a baby of her own.  He asked her to marry him, committing to pay for her fertility treatments, and committing to be a father and her partner.  Marjorie Orbin went from a jet-setting life to true love.  She poured her energy into creating a home environment, and there were pictures of Marjorie with the baby's room.   Kimball said that's all you need, a child and someone who loves you.

There were also pictures of a karate school that figures prominently in the story. 

Jay went missing in September 2004.  He never made it home from a Florida sales trip.  While friends started looking for him, Marjorie bought a $12,000 piano.  She spent a great deal of money, but the police were watching.  She was too busy to look for her husband.  When Marjorie was arrested, there was lots of cash in her purse.  She had been liquidating assets.  And, there was evidence that she had been spending money.

One photo showed the site in which Jay's remains were found.  It was in the desert, near a busy intersection.  Kimball said that murder required strength, and someone with ice-cold blood in their veins.  Marjorie had the strength, and the knowledge.  She had built an island in the kitchen.  The police thought Jay might have been buried under the island.  Marjorie had replaced the tile, and moved the island.  She put on the laminate top, according to Jake Orbin.  She was very capable.  She did the island during the search for Jay.  Jake said Jay's remains were not found under the island.  As brother of the victim, and guardian for Jay's son, Jake sold the house in 2005.  The new owner let the police come in and take the island apart to check for remains. 

Kimball also pointed out that Marjorie and a previous husband had worked in construction. She owned Marco Contracting Co., and could operate heavy machinery.

One slide showed the garage door.  Camille said they'd never know what happened in the garage.  But, there had been a large hole in the garage door.  Jake saw it when he was in town at the end of September, and, a week later, when he returned from San Diego, the door had been refinished and painted. 

There was a shadowy figure in Marjorie's life, her mother.  The story in the book discusses her, and her marriages.  Marjorie had an older sister who she was close to, and two younger half-brothers that she didn't talk about.  Marjorie's personality echoes her mother's, according to Kimball. 

Everywhere that Jay went, people loved him.  He had lifelong friends, and business friends who had been friends for years.  In contrast, when asking about Marjorie, people were irate, and slammed down phones. 

It was Jay who made arrangements for the little boy he loved.  He loved his son.  Jake described his brother as open, fun, and loving.  He would throw a party on a whim, and have people over.  But, Marjorie was not a warm person.  That's what the story is about.

Camille said she was nervous about the impact of the book on the family.  She called Jake when she received her copies, saying she could take it to him the next day.  He said he could be there in twenty minutes.  The next morning, she had email from him, saying, "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Your friend, Jake."  Jake said it meant the world to him that she did her brother justice.  Camille even had inventory from Jay's business that Jake gave her.  She said she wanted the family to have a positive experience with the the true crime book.

Kimball's previous book is A Sudden Shot: The Phoenix Serial Shooter.   The victims' families from the case still interact on Facebook.  In February 2011, there's an anthology coming out, and Kimball has a story in it.  In England, the book is called Hard Bastards.  In the U.S., the title will be Tough Guys.  It's true stories about he-men or people in macho situations.  Camille's story is about a man who ended up in the middle of a murder in Scottsdale, and saved his own life.

Jake Orbin did a short update.  He said Marjorie has never seen her son since she was arrested.  He was eight at the time, and is now fourteen.  He does read the letters from his mother, rolls his eyes, and gives them back. 

Kimball said the six jurors who came to the Poisoned Pen had lots of questions, because there were times they were sent from the room during the trial.  The state went for the death penalty, but the jurors saved her life, recommending life without parole.  Jake said the family had no say in the decision, but they also wanted life without parole, because someday Jay's son may be able to go see his mother and ask why she killed his father.  The jurors said they were convinced she stalked Larry Weisberg, the man she was seeing at the time of Jay's death, and tried to set Weisberg up for the murder.  And, they made the observation that Jay had a large number of family and friends at the trial, but nobody came to the trial to support Marjorie.

The case was covered on 48 Hours Mystery.  You can see it online on YouTube, and it's called Diary of a Showgirl.

Camille Kimball's website is

What She Always Wanted: A True Story of Marriage, Greed, and Murder by Camille Kimball. Penguin Group (USA), ©2010. ISBN 9780425237380 (paperback), 304p.

Lesa Holstine, Jake and Shelly Orbin


Charmaine Clancy said...

It's amazing how much work has gone into this book.

Lesa said...

I think a great deal of research and work goes into any true crime book, Charmaine.

Beth Hoffman said...

This was fascinating. I really enjoyed reading it, Lesa!

Camille Kimball said...

It was a pleasure to be there, Lesa, and a real joy to see Jake and Shelly in the front row. Your events at the Teague are really great.

Yes, a true crime book is a lot of work. This one was particularly crazy because of so many twists and turns. Well, heck, my last one was crazy, too, with so many victims. Hmmmm....will there ever be an easy one???? :)

p.s. In a few days we will have some more extra cool items up at my website. Keep watching!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. Camille's programs are always interesting.

Lesa said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog, and talking about the amount of work that goes into those books. It was an enjoyable event. Thank you again for doing it.

kathy d. said...

I don't know if I can read a true crime book, for the reasons Lesa laid out in a prior message.

It's one thing to read a work of fiction which one knows is made up by the author, but I find it so appalling to read about the true, gristly murders of real people, and the sadism behimd them, among other reasons, including mental illness, or that they are studies of sociopaths and psychopaths, people I just don't want to know about.

But this sounds like a very well-researched, well-written book and if I did read true crime, this would be my first.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to Swedish conspiracies, Chicago cover-ups, Durban, S.A. crime, Icelandic introspection, Italian justice, and more.

I am sorry as this looks like a great book.

Lesa said...

That's OK, Kathy. True crime isn't for everyone. As I said, I don't read it often because I have read some grisly ones in the past. Camille doesn't write that kind of book. But, it's still the story of a tragedy, because of the loss of Jay Orbin, and the family's loss, particularly the son's loss of both parents.

Camille Kimball said...

That's right, true crime is not for everyone. But I love me some good Scandinavian suspense, so please recommend me the Swedish conspiracy you mention!

Lesa said...


Kathy is probably talking about Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy, beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Camille Kimball said...

Ah, yes, of course. Thanks, Lesa!

I'm back in Glendale Border's 7320 W. Bell No slide show, but plenty of Cerreta's candy and lots of books about Diary of a Showgirl from 48 Hours Mystery, Marjorie Orbin!

Details here

Lesa said...

Good luck today, Camille. I hope you sell lots of books!

Oh, and Cerreta's? I just fell in love with a new product - orange marshmellow filling in white chocolate. Too die for!

Camille Kimball said...

I had a selection of sorbet flavored cowboy boots for my readers. Pretty and yummy! At one point, I realized I had to make sure people understood I wrote the books, not made the candy!

We love Joe Cerreta!

Lesa said...

Oh, that's funny, Camille. Yes, we do love Joe Cerreta!