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Sunday, March 21, 2021

True Crime Writers on Their Genre

I define a true crime book as one involving a murder. It's not about art theft, it's not about governmental cover-up. It's really a case involving a murder in which there's an investigation and usually a trial. The best of the true crimes give you some insight into characters, usually the character of the killer, and the situation that produced the crime.

Charles Spicer

...crime does pay--especially if you are a writer.

Tom Byrnes

The [true crime] market is women, and the ideal perpetrator is a white male serial sex killer, or conspiring white couple sex killers, or anyone who kills before, after, or during sex.

Burl Barer

The main audience for true crime works, according to publishing houses, is generally the middle class with more women than men buying the books. There is also a fairly strong teen market, and books of regional interest have specialized markets. For example, both Texas and the Pacific Northwest are strong locals for the true crime market.

Vicky Munro

All [true crime] stories must be post-trial, with the perpetrators convicted and sentenced at the conclusion. We also prefer that cases involve not more than three suspects. Do not pinpoint the guilty person too early in the story because it kills suspense. Use active writing, avoid passive constructions. Remember that detectives probe, unearth, dig up, ferret out, determine, deduce, seek, ascertain, discover, hunt, root out, delve, uncover, track, trace, and inspect.

Jim Thompson

I prefer an unpublicized case in which I am the only person writing about it because the people involved are so much more willing to cooperate and be interviewed. Publishers, of course, want a story that's been splashed all over television, magazines, and newspapers.

Don Lasseter

I start every book with the idea that I want to explain how this seven or eight pounds of protoplasm went from his mommy's arms to become a serial rapist or serial killer. I think a crime book that doesn't do this is pure pornography.

Jack Olsen 

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