Many years ago, along with practically everyone else in the U.S., I read HELTER SKELTER. It was absolutely fascinating, and I never read another true crime book.
My friends sometimes tease me about how easily I dispatch people in my stories, but that's the point: they're book people, not real people. Despite their omnipresence these days, I avoid news stories that promise in-depth coverage of gruesome crimes and vicious criminals. That's real. Someone got hurt. Someone isn't right in the head. I don't want to know any more about it.
But in a novel, I'm fine with killing off one or two people, maybe more. It's part of a guided tour for the reader, a plan for his or her enjoyment. For a few hours we pit our minds against the detective's and see if we, too, can figure out who and why. As the writer, I have to really pay attention, because it's my responsibility to make it exciting and to make everything work out in the end.
Maybe that's the problem for me with reading true crime. I can't make it work out, can't stop the killing and the residual pain for family and friends. But in my books, justice will triumph and we will know it all. In that, fiction tops real life every time.

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