instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Blog

POSSESSED is here!

Pub days are amazing! After years of work, I get to see the finished product hit brick-and-mortar stores and online sellers, and it finally all seems worth it. Another book, this one my thirteenth!

What a case it is: A brilliant scientist, Stefan Andersson initially fell head-over heels for the beautiful yet troubled Ana Trujillo. Like so many of us who feel that strong pull, that attraction, at first he had no insight into who Trujillo truly was. Slowly he began to realize. When he tried to end it, she wouldn't let go. In the end, his kindness killed him.

POSSESSED is a book that took me behind the scenes into a world of witchcraft, of science and sex, drugs and demons. I was warned along the way not to write it, for surely the spirits would retaliate. "You don't know what door you're opening," one woman said.

Yet, the door I opened was actually one into two lives, a view into what went so terribly wrong in a posh Houston high-rise apartment in June 2013. Into the heart of a man who once he loved, never turned away, even though he feared for his life. Into the soul of a woman who threw her life away for a good time, only to find she was alone, with no one willing to take her in except a man she'd abused, one who'd once loved her.

Who knows what draws the human heart? What waits there when we bond with another person? How easily our lives change and how quickly we lose control?

POSSESSED opens that door and we walk through, into two lives as they spin out of control and end in a devastating tragedy.  Read More 
Post a comment

Why I wrote DELIVER US

I often have readers email to ask how certain books came about. It's an understandable question. I mean, just peruse your daily newspaper. I write about crime cases, real ones, usually murders. Sadly, newspapers across the U.S., actually, I suspect, around the world, are filled with possible subjects. Some, like the Jodi Arias or Casey Anthony cases, make news for months, even years. Others come and go, generating little more than a paragraph or two in the city section. No matter how much attention each attracts, they all have stories behind them, people involved, events that led to the killings, investigations that may or may not have led to killers.

So why write a book on the I-45/Texas Killing Fields? Why now?

For those of you who aren't familiar with the cases, the truth is that they've haunted me since soon after I landed in Houston, back in the eighties. Over the years, I've seen the articles in the Houston Chronicle, teenage girls abducted and missing on or near I-45. In the nineties, the Chronicle and the Galveston County Daily News both started running charts, showing the girls' photos.

From that point on, I knew one day I would have to write about the cases. I couldn't forget the girls. They lived in the back of my mind. As I wrote book after book, I always knew eventually I'd have to do my best to find out who the girls were, how they'd disappeared, and why their murders remained unsolved. I confess that it became something of a compulsion.

"But why now?" you ask. Some of these cases are more than forty years old. Why do they deserve attention at this point in time?

Why not now?

Ironically, I began my research at a time when some of the cases first started to come together. One actually led to a trial. While I worked on DELIVER US, I discovered that although they'd never entered a courtroom charged with any of the girls' murderers, there were suspects. So I did what I always do in my books; I gave the folks believed to have committed the murders the opportunity to talk. I went inside Texas prisons and sat down with men who described themselves as vicious serial killers. And I listened as they told me how and why they murdered their victims.

It was terrifying.

DELIVER US took me three solid years to research and write. I investigated eighteen murder cases. Attended two trials. Interviewed three inmates behind prison walls.

The result, I admit, is a troubling book. It's an unflinching look inside a tragedy, the continuing murders of teenage girls just outside America's fourth largest city. This isn't happening in isolation, but along one of the nation's busiest highways.

I looked at this phenomenon from all sides: survivors, victims' families, investigators, and the alleged killers. And in the end, this book changed me in ways I couldn't have predicted.

I hope you'll read the prologue to DELIVER US, now available by clicking the link under excerpts in the left-hand column of this Website. And if you like the sample, that you'll read the book.

Why? These are important cases, exposing evil at its core. And the girls deserve to be remembered.  Read More 
5 Comments
Post a comment

My day with the TV crew

Monday was a big day for me. I left my office! Writers spend a lot of time locked up in our home offices, shutting out the rest of the world. But this past Monday, I departed my Houston home mid-morning for a drive to Katy, Texas, the location of the house where David Temple murdered his wife Belinda. The Temple case is the subject of my true crime book SHATTERED. The reason for my drive to Katy? A producer for the ID TV series DEADLY SINS wanted to interview me about the case for an upcoming episode.

What's it like doing television interviews about crime cases? That's what a Facebook friend asked when I mentioned my experience on social media. Well, it's usually pretty interesting. The process actually starts long before the day of the filming, when the producer, in this case a woman named Tania, conducts a pre-interview on the phone, asking  Read More 
8 Comments
Post a comment

Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey: A Hero or an Abuser?

A few weeks back I wrote a post that ran on Forbes about the wildly popular book Fifty Shades of Grey, the first in the mega-hit 50 Shades series. My premise was that I find the book troubling because the main character, Christian Grey, reminds me of many of the abusers I’ve reported on over my decades as a crime writer. I’m concerned that women and men  Read More 
6 Comments
Post a comment

One Little Girl: Caylee Anthony and why we care

Lately, I've had a hard time concentrating on work. I keep wondering what the heck is going on in Florida.

Of course, you all know what I'm talking about. I'd bet the majority of folks in the U.S. have at least heard of the tragic death of two-year-old Caylee Anthony. We first learned in July 2008 that this precious child was missing, when her grandmother, Cindy, called police, saying Caylee hadn't been seen in a month. For the past three years, we've been mesmerized by the search for the child, the discovery of her body, and the bizarre behavior of Casey, little Caylee's mom. Now our attention has turned to the courtroom drama as Casey is tried for her daughter's murder. A guilty verdict could bring the death penalty.

Apparently I'm not the only one  Read More 
6 Comments
Post a comment

True Crime Writing 101 -- Part two

Last week my post addressed those of you who envision yourselves writing true crime books. If I didn't dissuade you from that endeavor, let's take this a step further.

Now that you've decided you're up for the research and the seclusion of sitting at your computer day after day, the first thing you have to do is pick which case to cover. I bet that sounds easy. In a sense, unfortunately, it is. There never seems to be a dearth of sensational murders in America, perhaps the world. That's a bad thing, obviously.

Unfortunately, we can't change the reality that murders do happen. We're just reporting what's already taken place. So let's talk about how to pick  Read More 
9 Comments
Post a comment

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

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

I wish you'd been there!

Well, it's that time of year again. I've just returned home from three glorious days in the small town of Jefferson, Texas, ground zero for the Pulpwood Queens. The event: the annual extravaganza,Girlfriend Weekend. I stayed at the beautiful Alley-McKay house, and I had a blast.

It all started Thursday evening, with a dinner where the authors, including moi, waited on the PQs who gathered at the Jefferson Convention Center. The amazing Kathy L. Patrick, founder of this mushrooming book club (400 chapters and growing), fed the authors first, then we each claimed a table. I served dinner to the fine ladies from Southwest Louisiana's chapter. Wonderful women with ready smiles and good hearts who put up with my well-meaning if rather inept attempts at serving sweet and unsweetened tea, a barbecue dinner followed by yummy bread pudding. There were free autographed books and everyone went to their hotel or B&B with a smile.

On Friday, we were all back early, and the weekend kicked into gear with Kathy and her co host, the superb Robert Leleux (author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy) front and center. For the next two days, they moderated the panels, asking questions and keeping us all laughing. That morning, Mark Childress (Crazy in Alabama) was the keynote speaker, and he was so funny. I loved the reading from his new book, Georgia Bottoms. Lucky for all of us he gave everyone copies.

I won't attempt to list all the authors who spoke on Friday. There are simply too many, but here are a few: Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand), Judy Christie (Goodness Gracious Green), Denise Hildreth Jones (Hurricane in Paradise), Janis Owens (Cracker Kitchen), Kathy Appelt (Keeper) and Melissa Conroy (Poppy's Pants). If I'm counting right, there were about 20 discussing their work and their lives on the stage that first day.

The talent show that night was great fun. So many imaginative acts. I heard Nashville's Marshall Chapman sing and play her guitar for the first time and loved it so much I sprung for a CD. Marshall also has a new book out: They Came to Nashville.

The following morning, Saturday, the great Fannie Flagg began the day with a rousing talk about dyslexia, writing, and the surprises live brings. She was charming and heart-warming, detailing the process that began imagining the ghosts that inhabited her family's dilapidated and abandoned homestead and ended in a beloved book: "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."

Two more panels, including mine, followed her. Wouldn't you know that Kathy would name my panel "Stories that are Killer?" On the stage, I was a bit nervous. (There were lots of folks there. At least 300, my guess.) But BobKat(Robert and Kathy) put us all at ease, giving us the opportunity to discuss our books and answer questions. I read a short passage from THE KILLING STORM, the Pulpwood Queens' main selection for July 2010.

It turned out that my panel was the opening act for the inimitable Pat Conroy Read More 
3 Comments
Post a comment

My New Year's Resolutions

Well, here we are. The final hours of 2010, and looking forward to 2011. Do you find this time of year is filled with not only excitement for the new year but regret for the things you missed or never got to in the past twelve months? I do. Perhaps that's healthy, a time to look back and then toward the future.

These are my five resolutions for 2011:

1) Relationships: I'm making sure I connect more often. Life just gets in the way. Do you find that? I do. I have good intentions, but the months fly. In the end, I'm wondering where the year went and lamenting that I've spent too few hours with family and friends.

2) The Net: I'm limiting access. This is a biggie for me. Writing (like many endeavors) takes concentration. I need to work, but it's way easier to surf to see what Snookie is up to, what the politicos are doing wrong, drop in at facebook for a quick howdy. Why not tweet a bit before figuring out that next plot twist? I do enjoy  Read More 
2 Comments
Post a comment