Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On true Crime...

ROSEMARY: Bears are not the only dangerous creatures out there. Just before we left for Montana, it was reported that one of the escaped convicts from Arizona (recently captured thank goodness) was seen in St. Mary, Montana. I was headed to St. Mary and would stay there Friday and Saturday night.

It takes about ten minutes to go from one end of St. Mary to the next. If you go real slow and don't stop at the Park Cafe whose motto is "Pie is Strength!" (They make really good huckleberry pie.)

Had I gone from the frying pan into the fire? Having escaped the grizzlies would I wind up bunking next to a serial killer at the Red Eagle Motel (above), one of only three places to stay in town? Would the pepper spray work on him if we bumped into each other at the ice machine?

I'm still noodling around with ideas for book five - perhaps Paula should have an accidental encounter with a killer. Would readers buy that?

Have you had any accidental encounters with criminals? Have you ever used a scary or dangerous situation that you've really been in, in one of your books?

HALLIE: I've had a black bear (not grizzly) bear romp into our camp site while our 4 month old was sleeping in the tent. Heroes that we are, Jerry and I jumped into the car and watched it sniff around the tent (I was ready to jump out and drive it off, really I was) then double back, grab our bag of marshmallows off the table and tear off into the bushes.

ROSEMARY: I'm assuming you grabbed the 4 month old before the marshmallows...

JAN: Yes, I once was a pedestrian at an intersection where the driver gestured for me to "go ahead." Once I started walking, the driver gunned it and my brother actually had to lift me by the collar to get me out of the way. The car missed me by half an inch. It was frightening but I immediately thought: What a novel and effective way to intimidate and/or murder someone. I used it in A Confidential Source.

HANK: Yes. How do people really come in contact with killers, anyweay? Sometimes, the killer is looking for them. Sometimes they get in the way. And sure, I use real reporter situations all the time. Even being alone in a room with someone iffy - that's scary. And potentially dangerous. And certainly suspenseful.

ROSEMARY: Well...I can't say any of my jobs...bookstore manager, direct marketing exec., public television drone or video producer has had me rubbing shoulders with any serious criminals - not that I know of anyway! But being in the same small town with the object of a nationwide manhunt gave me the willies and it will definitely wind up in a future book.

Come back tomorrow for a visit with longtime publishing exec. Bruce Harris (I'd call him legendary, but he's my husband and he'd kill me.) He'll reprise his well-received New England Crimebake talk Countdown to Publication. What you should do and what your publisher should be doing in your run up to publication. And he'll be here Wed-Fri to answer questions.


  1. Fifth Paula Holliday?? VERY exciting!!

    And I should spellcheck my entries, sorry . Anyway, you know I meant ANYWAY.

  2. The BEAR ran off with the marshmallows...

    Ro, did you eat at the Cattle Baron Supper Club? I love that name.

    Rereading this entry reminded me of Ann Rule who happened to have worked with Ted Bundy, inspiring her to research and write her breakout true crime novel, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME.

    And I do think you could get away with the chance encounter for Paula... Better if he's looking for her and she doesn't know it.

  3. I should use the Cattle Baron Supper Club in the next book..it is a great name. We did not eat there, just had beers (not bears.)
    Ann Rule WORKED with Ted Bundy? Holy Cow.

  4. I've had several bear encounters, including sleeping under the stars next to a stupid woman who left her trail mix in her pocket right beside me and a black bear came around...
    I was about to write no criminals but then I remembered that my son's scout master murdereed his wife, then his next scout master went to jail for molestation. No more scouts after that!

  5. This is all riveting stuff. But I just learned from Hank that you can actually spell check a comment.

    YAY!!! (Now let's see if I actually remember to do it!)

    Yes, Hallie's right, Anne Rule not only worked with Ted Bundy, she was pretty good friends with him -- if I remember the book correctly. I think it was the first true crime book I ever read.

    Ro, I think a chance meeting with a killer is allowed. Given that its either a killer or a dead body.

  6. Scoutmaster...yikes.
    I don't think I've met any murderers. I did meet Jose Menendez (killed by his 2 sons)- a good pal worked for him in the video business. Too horrible for me to write about. Someone else can tackle that one. Or am I playing it too safe? Is that the way to break through the "cute" ceiling?

  7. Ro, that's a truly interesting question. I think you're through the cute ceiling if you just put yourself through.

    Or--We might be wary of things that don't exist.

  8. Ro, trying to break through the cute ceiling--that's always a problem. I find your work is perceived in a certain way and if you try to change that you upset the fans who liked you the way you were and those who like much darker won't try you anyway.
    I experienced this with the Evan series that started out light but went darker as I got to know my characters. Fans wanted the lighter books.

  9. Oh, Rhys. That's ...disturbing. Huh. But I see what you mean.

    Rushing off to a story..but thinking seriously now.

  10. My Berkeley optometrist, married to a colleague of my husband, was accused of murdering the woman he was living with after he left his wife. The police dropped the case, because since he'd been living in her house, his fingerprints were everywhere. But everyone agreed he was probably guilty.

    It's a shock to be watching the evening news and see that someone you know has been arrested for murder.

    Oh, and I also worked in a building at UC Berkeley where the Unibomber targeted one of his victims. Living in California was so much fun!

  11. I liked your Evan books Rhys. What do you guys think about changing your name for a different kind of book? would that work?