I am a bit obsessed with true crime, specifically serial murder. This isn’t a bad thing I don’t think, although it isn’t necessarily something that you want to shout from the rooftops, especially not in mixed company. Succinctly, serial murder is something you have to ease into a conversation, and I’ve done that pretty well until very recently. It’s starting to seep into my everyday life. Uh oh?
For example, I’m finding it hard to not shout out instances of true crime when someone mentions the name of a town: Gainesville, Florida? You ever heard of Danny Rollins? Gainesville Ripper? Killed five college students in three days? It’s not hard for me to restrain myself from dropping knowledge on people, but I shouldn’t prevent myself from happiness, right? Although I can’t talk to everyone I meet about true crime–get with the program people!!–I can have the outlet of writing thankfully and, if I really have the hankering to get some murderously creative juices flowing, I can turn to the word processor on my computer and get going.
My affinity with true crime likely stems from my preferred types of literature and film/television. As a kid, I was never shielded from movies like Scream and The Silence of the Lambs, and my early literature also dealt fairly heavily with death and murder. It’s only natural that I began to read actually cases of true crime–like Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me and a novel about the murders of the Camm family right across the water from Louisville–and these horrifying scenarios have influenced my writing recently, too. I suppose my most recent story “Dances with Chainsaws” is my earnest attempt at a true crime story; it’s based on something that actually happened and focuses on both the victim and the perpetrator. Still it’s heavily fictionalized, of course. I have yet to dabble in creative non-fiction, yet this story, and another that I’m currently drafting, are half-hearted attempts to write a true crime story. Eventually I’ll get there, and I will happily use true crime as a stepping stone to non-fiction.
I’m thinking about creative non-fiction a lot lately because I’m trying to broaden my horizons and tackle a new genre of writing to diversify myself a bit. This is easier said than done, but there are certainly wonderful non-fiction items to model myself after: the aforementioned Ann Rule, the non-fiction book Mindhunter that the Netflix television show of the same name is based on, Raymond Carver’s essays in Fires, and podcasts like Serial and S-Town that make non-fiction way more fun than I originally thought it was. If anyone has further recommendations, I’d love to hear them!