Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Fascination with Serial Killers

author Patricia Gligor
Today my guest is Patricia Gligor who has written an exciting mystery thriller about a serial killer.  I first met Pat when she asked me for some input on the synopsis she was preparing for the publisher of Mixed Messages.  I knew when I read it that she had a terrifyingly great book, one that readers would love.  Read what she has to say about her work.

Our Fascination with Serial Killers

The blurb on the back of my mystery novel, Mixed Messages, begins: “It is estimated there are at least twenty to thirty active serial killers in the United States at any given time. There’s one on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati.”Actually, according to many articles I’ve read on the subject, that’s an extremely conservative estimate but even the FBI can’t give us actual statistics. No one knows for sure.

So, why did I write a novel where a serial killer is attacking women in their homes? Because the subject intrigues me and, from the responses I get when I tell people what my novel is about, a lot of other people feel the same way. I say “serial killer” and their eyes light up. Why?

There are lots of theories offering answers to that question. Some say it’s a throwback to the legends of vampires, which existed since the dawn of time. Those legends were romanticized and offered nineteenth century writers a way to capture the interest of Victorian society. From Dracula to Jack the Ripper to Hannibal Lectern in Silence of the Lambs, serial killers offer exciting forays into dark worlds.

Others speculate that the intrigue lies solely in the fact that, most of the time, serial killers look just like our brothers, friends, neighbors. People have a difficult time believing that someone who is described by co-workers and neighbors as “a nice guy, a sweet, quiet, awkward bachelor who lived with his mother” could be responsible for such horrendous crimes as the notorious Joel Rifkin and many of the other infamous serial killers throughout history. The fact that a killer could live next door to them, although chilling, adds a little spice to their otherwise hum-drum lives.

But, surely, there are common characteristics of serial killers. A way to identify them, to separate them  from the rest of us. Yes and no. Mostly no. The majority of the research on the childhood backgrounds of these monsters reveals that many serial killers suffered either a severe psychological trauma and/or physical or sexual abuse. Also, many future serial killers are known to have tortured small animals but many SKs didn’t and, strangely enough, some people who exhibit that behavior as children, grow up to be “normal.”

Then, why do some people who endure psychological and/or physical abuse as children grow up to be relatively mentally healthy adults who contribute to society while others become serial killers? Many experts agree that serial killers lack adequate coping mechanisms. Think of it this way: while some people get the flu, others don’t because they have a strong resistance or tolerance. Serial killers, lacking this resistance, as they grow older, are unable to deal with the stress everyone has at some point in their life. They have defective emotional immune systems. 

Are you fascinated with serial killers? If so, why?

To order Mixed Messages

Link to book trailer for Mixed Messages
Link to Pat's blog

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Remembering Woodstock

Michael Murphy, Author of Goodbye Emily

Today my guest is Michael Murphy, author of a new book entitled Goodbye Emily. According to Michael, "My return to Woodstock novel captures the music, the rain, the mud, but  Goodbye Emily focuses on two people who meet and fall in love at Woodstock and their love lasts a lifetime. Forty years later, well, I don’t want to give too much away."

To celebrate Woodstock's anniversary this month, Michel is providing us with some interesting trivia about the event.  Read on... 

Woodstock wasn’t the first big multi-day rock concert of the sixties. In 1967, The Monterey Pop Festival featured sixties greats Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Mamas and the Papas, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, and Otis Redding and others. The event was memorialized in a 1968 documentary, “Monterey Pop.”

Emboldened, Woodstock organizers wanted an event near Woodstock, New York because Bob Dylan and other folk/rock stars lived nearby. They wanted to raise enough money through ticket sales to create a permanent recording studio in Woodstock. Organizers secured a location in nearby Wallkill, secheduled acts, printed tickets and publicized the event. Then things began to go wrong. Very wrong.

Local residents feared an influx of drug-crazed hippies. Authorities in Wallkill rescinded the permit just weeks before the scheduled event leaving organizers to scramble for an alternative site. After stumbling upon a beautiful lush dairy farm owned by Max Yasgur near Bethel, New York, they secured the location and prepared for the festival.

When August 15 came, construction hadn’t been completed. There was no way to keep the crowds out, so the concert quickly became a free concert, virtually ensuring organizers would not meet their financial goals.

With the popularity of the 1968 Monterey Pop documentary, word had spread about Woodstock. Roads were jammed. Nearly a half a million made it to Yasgur’s farm, but the scheduled acts didn’t arrive on time. 

With an impatient crowd, organizers talked Richie Havens into taking the stage. After his initial performance they talked him repeatedly into returning to the stage to stall until more acts arrived. After nearly three hours, he’d run out of material.

What followed was Woodstock history. Havens took an old spiritual, “Motherless Child” and improved a song that’s become known as his famous Freedom song. As he stated later, “When you see me in the movie tuning my guitar and strumming, I was actually trying to figure out what else I could possibly play! I looked out at all of those faces in front of me and the word freedom came to mind."

Country Joe McDonald, scheduled for day three as part of Country Joe and the Fish, was talked into performing an acoustic set. Before his famous anti-war song, “I’m-Fixing-to-Die-Rag,” he gave the “Fish Cheer.” For those who’ve seen the documentary, the four letter word he and nearly a half million shouted, was not fish.

I’m honored two Woodstock icons, Country Joe and Wavy Gravy like my novel. “Michael I just finished reading your novel and found it a fantastic read and wonderful story! It would make a terrific movie. Thanks for letting me see it. cheers, Joe.” Country Joe McDonald
“What we have in mind is a sweet look back at the good old days. We must have been in heaven, man.” Wavy Gravy

Find out more at

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My guest, Marilyn Meredith

I'm excited to have Marilyn Meredith as my guest.  Marilyn is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Bears With Us from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is No Bells from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.  

Today she talks about authors using their own experiences, especially their fears, in writing.
Marilyn Meredith

Do Any of Your Fears or Experiences Show up in your Mysteries?
I’ve often wondered if mystery writers ever incorporate their own fears or experiences into the stories they write. It certainly would be a way to reach inside oneself to bring up the emotions the hero or heroine might feel when coming across the same object or situation that the author himself or herself fears.
For instance, if spiders make your skin crawl, would you have your hero or heroine be confronted by a horde of spiders? What if snakes in habit your nightmares, would you put a deadly snake in the path our protagonist must take in order to find a clue?
This gives you the idea of where I’m going. I wonder when I’m reading a chilling mystery, if some of the horror that main character must confront or overcome is one that the writer harbors.
Someone who is afraid of spiders, scorpions, lizards or snakes should never live where I do. We have lots of all these unsavory critters. I can easily dispatch the first  two without a qualm, I’ve swept many a lizard out the door, and have learned to make enough noise when traipsing around outside, that a nearby rattler will sound its warning.
What am I afraid of? Frankly, the older I get the less frightened I am of most anything. I can get around in the dark pretty darn well. I’m not afraid of things that go bump in the night. I live in an old house and it makes bumping noises all the time. And no, I’m not afraid of ghosts either. My grandkids all say my house is haunted, and it may well be. Doors open and shut on their own, but who cares? Ghosts can’t hurt you—especially if you’re not afraid of them. Frankly, I love writing about ghosts and they’ve been characters in several of my books.
What I might confess to being a bit afraid of is a catastrophe like a forest fire like what has been going on around my state and others, or a major earthquake which is always a possibility in California. I am not anticipating either, but who knows? Both of these disasters do make good fodder for a mystery. We’ve had some major flooding at times where I live, and I’ve used what could happen in the Deputy Tempe book that’s due out in the fall, called Raging Water.
My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, No Bells, revolves around a loved one being accused of murder. That would be a horrible experience for anyone and fortunately not one I’ve had. In this story, it’s the woman that Officer Gordon Butler has fallen for. He’s determined to clear his name even if it means losing his job.
What about experiences?
If you’ve ever been burglarized you know the feeling of being violated even though you weren’t home when the burglar was going through your belongings.
A death in the family is always traumatic, but it does give you the insight and knowledge if what one goes through when a loved one dies. Sometimes I think writers (books and movies) don’t spend enough time showing what a tremendous effect death has on all the loved ones left behind.
I’ve barely covered the surface of our own fears and experiences that could turn up in a mystery.
How about sharing your fears? Or an experience that would make good fodder for a mystery.

The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series can be purchased from the usual places and also directly from Mundania Press at