By Basil Sands
Edgar-nominated Diane Fanning is the author of six novels in the thrilling Lieutenant Lucinda Pierce series. The inspiration for her fiction is firmly rooted in her writing experience with another genre, true crime. SLEEP MY DARLINGS, her twelfth non-fiction book, is a journey into the darkness of a mother’s heart.
She’s here today to talk with us about her new book, and her work in general.
Describe your new true crime release, SLEEP MY DARLINGS, for us.
SLEEP MY DARLINGS is the tragic story of the death of teenagers Calyx and Beau at the hand of their mother, Julie Schenecker. Julie was an accomplished 50-year-old woman, star of her university volleyball team and an army Russian intelligence analyst during the Cold War. Married to Colonel Parker Schenecker, still in a military intelligence unit, they lived with her two children in an upscale community in North Tampa, Florida.
The book explores the essential questions behind the crime. Did Julie Schenecker commit the double homicide of her children because of a lethal combination of severe mental illness and substance abuse? Or did she pre-mediate the crime, knowing exactly what she was doing? Is she deserving of mercy or is she just another cold-blooded, heartless murderer?
Murders come in all shapes and sizes, whether in fact or in fiction, and the motivations of killers can be as varied as the crimes they commit. Getting inside the head of a real-life murderer is an essential part of creating a believable fictional character, but that’s a task easier said than done. After all, few writers have an opportunity to sit down with a killer and chat. For everyone else, author R. Barri Flowers offers the next best thing.
THE DYNAMICS OF MURDER: KILL OR BE KILLED, the prolific author’s most recent effort, is part criminology text and part true crime book. It’s “an indispensable sourcebook for anyone interested in American homicide, from law-enforcement professionals to armchair criminologists,”according to Harold Schechter, Professor of American Literature and Culture at the City University of New York’s Queens College and a bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction in his own right.
It’s also a guidebook of sorts for authors who want to probe the minds of people who kill others.
By Ian Walkley
MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME: Chilling Stories of Murder and the Macabre is a true crime anthology, edited by bestselling crime writer R. Barri Flowers and published by Prometheus books. It features seventeen spine-tingling stories by award-winning and bestselling true crime writers, including ITW member and forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland, Edgar Award winner Burl Barer, Harold Schechter, Carol Ann Davis, Ronald J. Watkins, Amanda Lamb, Robert Scott, and Michele McPhee.
Steven A. Egger, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Criminology Program at the University of Houston, describes MASTERS OF TRUE CRIME as: “Written by a talented and gifted group of writers. In my opinion, this book should be a mandatory purchase and read for any true crime buff. It is, indeed, an exceptional collection of true crime stories.”
By Jeff Ayers
Kathryn Casey’s 7th true crime book, DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS, explores the Matt Baker case out of Waco, TX. Matt was a Baptist minister, and was convicted of murdering his wife, Kari, and staging it to look like a suicide. At the time, Matt was having an affair with the music minister’s daughter, a beautiful young blonde named Vanessa Bulls. In the end it became apparent that Matt Baker had never been the man he pretended to be. He’d been living a double life since college: a man of God who preyed on women.
By Amy Shojai
Twenty-three years ago Cathy Scott worked as a secretary at Pacific Bell. “No offense to big corporations,” Cathy says, “but they have a tendency to kind of suck the passion out of you. I always wanted to be a writer and I saw that slipping away from me.”
So Cathy quit her day job and took a buyout to fund her leap of faith. “People told me I was nuts,” Cathy says. She lived lean like a poor college student for the next two years, got her degree, and wrote for anyone who would have her. As she gathered clips, Cathy set a goal to land a job with a daily newspaper in five years. She made it in 3½.
“The Las Vegas Sun offered me a job,” Cathy says. “Then Tupac Shakur was killed on my watch, and that was my first book—THE KILLING OF TUPAC SHAKUR.” Her second book, THE MURDER OF BIGGIE SMALLS, further established her as a bestselling true crime writer.
Gary C. King’s Rage tells the story of Darren Mack, a man who had it all. A Beautiful home in Reno. A lovely wife. Three children. And a million-dollar business. Then his wife Charla filled for divorce, winning a large settlement in a heated courtroom battle.
According to friends, Mack was ‘angry’. They had no idea how far his fury would take him. Over the next year, the rage only intensified. Finally, Darren Mack snapped, stabbing and killing his ex-wife in her condo. Hours later, he stalked and shot their divorce judge in broad daylight.
In the new book THE MEASURE OF MADNESS-Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind (Citadel Press/July 2010), forensic psychologist Dr. Cheryl Paradis draws back the curtain on that fascinating world and revisits twenty-one of the most intriguing, puzzling, and challenging cases she has handled in her multifaceted, twenty-five year career including that of a battered woman, a psychotic arsonist, an accused cannibal and a wide range of liars. Paradis relays these real-life whodunits with much of the dialogue relayed verbatim from her records and presents a compelling account of the relationships between mental illness and violence, innocence and guilt, criminal and victim, and individual and society.