Crime Has Many Impacts
Posted by Literary Titan
Unthinkable: Who Kills Their Grandmother? follows the murder investigation of an 85-year-old woman, and the trial of her killer. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Unthinkable was important for me to write for several reasons. First, the crime involved our home. I believed then and now that this story had to be told. It’s not every day that you purchase a home with a history. Second, the book illustrates how ordinary people can be caught up in stressful situations, see no way out and have no one to confide in, and ultimately commit a brutal crime. I am convinced that the poor decisions engaged in by this offender could happen to anyone. I wanted the readers to understand just how powerful various situational dynamics can be and how they come together to lead to a horrible act, typically out of character for the perpetrator. Third, it was important for me to take the reader’s hand and walk them through the entire criminal justice process, from the crime to the investigation, to the courtroom, and to sentencing. Finally, it was very important for me to write about my relationship with the offender, which started out very casually and over time things turned “south”. I want readers to understand that writing true crime books often involves interacting with criminals, who in turn try to manipulate anyone who will listen to them. I admit that I fell for his innocence narrative and only when I did more research on the case did the events leading up to and including the murder truly expose who the real killer was. Readers need to know that getting close to the subject matter can sometimes be risky for the author. I have been around criminals and prisoners my entire professional career; however, we are all susceptible to manipulation.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
Crime has many impacts, seen and unseen. By far the hardest part of the book was to have the victims, or family members, discuss the impacts of this brutal crime on them, as people. I thought the best way for the reader to understand the consequences, or to put themselves in the victims’ shoes, was to have them read the actual victim impact statements as they were read in Court. I struggled with finding the best way to convey their loss. Reading about the victims struggling to explain how deep this senseless tragedy affected them, physically and psychologically, was gut wrenching but very real. I could have paraphrased their statements and eased their dramatic effect. Instead, I used the actual statements for every reader to think about. I want readers to know the seen and unseen impacts of crime in the family.
How much research did you undertake for this book and how much time did it take to put it all together?
This book required extensive research involving such things as analysis of court records, conversations with the offender and others involved in the case, and news media. The idea for the book originated at a neighborhood Christmas party in 2019, and the book was released for sale in October 2022. The actual research and writing time involved about 12 months, throughout 2020, and plenty of rewriting and reorganization in 2021. I also had six close colleagues read draft chapters and they provided me with critical feedback on content, style, readability, and overall accuracy.
What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?
I have studied crime and criminals and punishment decisions for 30 years. People still have a hard time trying to fathom why someone would kill a family member. Readers tell me the standard line: “I read the whole book and I cannot understand how or why someone could murder their grandmother?” I agree with that statement to a degree. On the face of it, sure, it sounds too fantastic to consider. Murder your grandmother? The crime detailed in my book is completely understandable given the situation in which the offender found him self. The offender “fell into”, by his own making, a vicious, but powerful, downward spiral within which the murder was planned and carried out. My readers seem surprised this crime occurred; but in reality, after digging into the crime and analyzing the total situation confronted by the offender, it really comes as no surprise. Crime is part of daily life and there is no magic potion or special “booster shot” that serves as an antidote to criminal behavior. Many people (neighbors, friends, work mates, family members), in a similar situation, would have behaved similarly.
About Literary TitanThe Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.
Posted on February 3, 2023, in Interviews and tagged author, author interview, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, crime fiction, ebook, fiction, goodreads, indie author, James W. Marquart, kindle, kobo, literature, murder mystery, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, suspense, thriller, Unthinkable: Who Kills Their Grandmother?, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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