Thursday, January 15, 2015

Me? A true crime writer?

This blog is not really a "true crime" blog per se.  I occasionally write about cases that interest me or post book reviews about true crime cases.  I find true crime fascinating because it combines psychology and criminal justice with true stories about real people.  I don't like to read about other peoples' misery.  I am more interested in what drives people to do things that are so far beyond the scope of normalcy.  

Over the past couple of years, I've written quite a few posts about true crime stories I've read about in the news, books I've read, or people I either knew personally or knew of because of where I'm from.  Many times when I write about these stories, I get a lot of interest from people.  Sometimes I even hear from people involved in the cases.

At first, I was surprised that anyone would care what I have to write about true crime.  I'm nobody important.  I just read the news.  Not being part of these cases, I am far divorced from the raw emotions and pain of people affected by violent crime.  Last year, I heard from the former sister-in-law of Crystal Ragin, a soldier at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia who was brutally murdered.  She actually wanted me to call her because she wanted to tell more of the story.  I didn't end up contacting her because it didn't seem right to do that.  But we did end up having a chat on Facebook and she asked me to write more about Crystal Ragin.  So I did.  She later thanked me.  That post still gets a lot of traffic.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Erin McCay George, a woman who wrote a book about what it's like to be in prison.  At the time I read the book, I didn't realize that I actually went to college with Erin.  And I also have a lot of friends who knew her personally because our college was very small and close-knit.  She was a troublemaker when we were in college, but I was truly shocked to find out that she'd killed her husband for insurance money.  I wrote about it and, just today, got a comment from someone who knew Erin's in-laws in England.

I also wrote about a few old cases... cases that happened in the early 1990s that many people had forgotten about.  Writing about them led to my reconnecting with yet another old friend from college who knew one of the perpetrators.

One time, this blog even got visited by a bonafide true crime writer who happened to read a venting post I wrote about Epinions.  It turned out I had reviewed one of his books positively, so he kind of returned the favor.

I find true crime fascinating.  I'm not sure if I'd want to be another Ann Rule, but I can see why she does the work she does.  Violent crime connects people in an unfortunate yet fascinating way.  When I write about these cases, I do so mostly as an outsider observing.  I am sure sometimes the things I write, which are mainly based on my observations and deductive reasoning, may upset some readers.  Generally speaking, I'm happy to hear from people who want to add to the story or correct me if I'm wrong about something, as long as they don't take a very adversarial tone.  At the same time, I suppose I can understand why some of them are upset.  I have never been a victim of violent crime, nor have I been close to anyone who has.  I can only imagine the anguish and sense of violation it causes.  And whatever I imagine, I'm sure, doesn't even come close to the reality of those emotions.

Anyway, while I never thought of myself as a "true crime" writer, I guess when I write about true crime, that's kind of what ends up happening.  I just like to write about things that interest me, though... and what interests runs the gamut.  One day, you might read about the Brady Bunch Hour.  The next, you might read about something very personal.  The next, maybe I'll post a true crime book review.

I probably ought to start a true crime blog...


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