instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Blog

True Crime Writing 101 -- Part One

I get a lot of emails from people who want to become true crime authors. Since I've been covering sensational cases for a quarter of a century - boy does that make me sound old - I've had quite a few experiences. As you may suspect, I can't answer everyone's questions in depth individually, so I've decided to tackle the subject here.

From here on out, I have my true crime not my mystery hat on, and I'm addressing those of you who want to write true crime.

First: Let's be honest; is this what you truly want? True crime writing isn't for the most part booksignings and giving interviews. Most of it's not particularly glamorous. And it's not easy. It's not simply a matter of showing up at a trial and writing a synopsis of the events, not if you want to do it well.

Many jobs are tough, and I don't mean to minimize how hard we all work at our professions. I truly don't. But I'm under the impression that some believe true crime writing is a piece of cake. Maybe I'm a bit slow, but that's not my experience.

I do go to the trials, and that's part of it, but for each book, I interview  Read More 
10 Comments
Post a comment

A Big Day!

My dad blowing out his birthday candles.
Hey All,

Now this is exciting, and years in the making. Yesterday, my dad, Nicholas, turned 90. Can you imagine? Ninety!

Something struck me while I was talking to him. He said, "Boy, the world has really changed since I was born." My dad was born in the family home, on 17th Street, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1921. The family didn't yet have a car, only rich folks were born in hospitals, and television had a few decades before it made an appearance in most homes.

That seems like a long time ago, I know. But the truth is that life is short, too short. Unfortunately, for many of the people I write about it's way too short, as they fall victim to violent crime. But even 90 years is a brief interlude here on earth. Our old planet spins so quickly, the years ticking by. It's true that there's nothing we can do to slow it down.

Yet, there is something we can do to make our time  Read More 
4 Comments
Post a comment

What people ask me....

I just finished filling in some upcoming events on my calendar, and I've been doing phone-in discussions with book clubs. It's a lot of fun for me and, I believe, for the club members. I get to hear their theories on the true crime cases I cover and the plots and characters in my mysteries; the readers ask questions and hear the stories behind the books. So it's a win-win situation, at least from my perspective.

Over the years, I've found that when I talk to groups there are some questions that nearly always get asked. One is: What's it like to interview someone who's committed a brutal murder?

Well, I've been doing that for a very long time. I started out visiting prisons when I worked for magazines in the Eighties and Nineties. In fact, I have a Rolling Stone article out on Kindle right now called Blues & Bad Blood. The cost is a whopping $0.99. At 6,000 words, it's always been one of my favorite magazine pieces. I think it's the mix of music and murder that makes the case so fascinating.

When I worked on that particular case, I traveled Texas over a period of two weeks interviewing four men convicted of two horrible murders, Read More 
8 Comments
Post a comment