October 10, 2011

Romancing The Serial Killer


by Jerrie Alexander

I'm a native Texan. My husband and I live outside of Fort Worth, where my brother loves to tell people I'm so far out in the country we get Saturday Night Live on Wednesday morning. He's always been the family comedian. I'm the one who digs into the psychology of a killer's mind, trying to balance his evil with romance.

I've been told I'm at my best when I'm in the killer's point of view. If that's true, I believe it's because I've researched properly. It's certainly when I have the most fun! To construct a believable character, I metaphorically put on his or her hat and walk in their shoes. Creeps me out sometimes and has given me a nightmare or two, but realism and motivation are important to the story. And me.

No doubt, if the police ever took a peek at my hard drive, I'd be hauled in for questioning. Because of today's technology, information and insight into the killer's mind is there for the taking. I've downloaded files from FBI profilers, medical reports, bought books from Amazon and studied the different patterns of these troubled minds. As I read, and maybe because they were the hardest to understand, I was drawn to the analyst's description of the sociopath. Their lack of conscience and inability to care or feel compassion for the victim's pain fit my killer's motivation perfectly.

Maybe it was naive to write to the FBI with a list of questions. Imagine my surprise the day my phone rang, and the caller identified himself as a Special Agent. He answered all my questions, gave me his cell number and of all thing...he thanked me. Assured me, the FBI appreciates being written about, and they love it when the author tells the real story of the Agency. Ultimately, I used his information in another story, but his response gave me the courage to park next to a Texas Sheriff's car and strike up a conversation with him. Once he decided I wasn't completely crazy, he was very helpful.

If you're looking for resources here are my favorites.

The Yahoo group CrimeSceneWriter. Here you'll find FBI agents, police officers, EMTs, firefighters, private investigators, forensic specialists, and more, all willing to answer questions.

D.P. Lyle, MD. His blog, www.writersforensicblog.wordpress.com is like going to the library.

Lee Lofland. His blog, The Graveyard Shift, www.leelofland.com/wordpress gives insight and examples of his past police experiences.

My ace-in-the-hole is a retired Navy SEAL who answers all my questions about things that go boom. He's a real life hero, who still doesn't know he is one.

When The Green Eyed Doll is released, (I don't have a date yet) by The Wild Rose Press - in their Crimson Rose line, my readers will make the final analysis. Did I bring my killer to life? Was he sinister and believable? If so, my research paid off.
Many thanks to Anna Kathryn for hosting me today!

Jerrie Alexander
www.jerriealexander.com

30 comments:

Dawn Alexander said...

Great post, Jerrie!
I was cracking up the idea of pulling up to a sheriff's car and interrogating him. It is awesome you wrote the FBI and they responded. I would be too scared they would respond with, "If you will come it us, we would like to ask YOU a few questions."
Can't wait to read your book.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Jerrie. Thanbks for being my guest today. It was GREAT meeting you on Saturday at the SARA meeting!

Barb Han said...

Love the fact the FBI called you! I'd be shaking in fear if they rolled up on my caller ID. How did you come up with the idea for The Green-eyed Doll? Take care.

Diana Layne said...

ooh, ooh, I wanna meet your Navy Seal! I need something to go boom! Fun post, Jerrie, can't wait to read your story! (I, otoh, am friends with a sheriff's detective, maybe we can trade. :) )

Jerrie Alexander said...

Dawn and Barb! Thanks for stopping by.

The call with the agent was interesting. My heart jumped to my throat when the FBI agent identified himself! I just knew he was going to tell me not to write about them at all. Instead, he was wonderful. Broke my heart when he said Criminals Minds was a bit of a stretch. He said they did not fly around on private jets or have big black SUVs waiting on them!

The sheriff's deputy was still leery when I walked away. :)

Jerrie Alexander said...

Anna Kathryn, thanks for having me today. It was great meeting you too. The trip to San Antonio was wonderful as were the SARA folks.

Kym Roberts said...

Jerrie-What I love about your writing is the research behind it. You look for authenticity in every aspect which makes GREAT fiction. I've read a small tidbit of Green-Eyed Doll and can't wait to read the rest! Thanks for the links and congrats on the sale! Kym

Jerrie Alexander said...

Diana, can you believe he's about six foot four, with blond hair and blue eyes? We worked together and believe me, even after they leave the Navy, they are confident, awesome men. He lives in California with his wife and boys and always answers my emails when I ask my dumb questions.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Hey Kym, thanks for stopping by! As a retired homicide detective, I can imagine you cringe when you read something that hasn't been researched.

I'm excited you plan on reading the book. Getting the thumbs up from you will mean I did a good job.

Jackie P said...

Can't wait for The Green Eyed Doll to release! With all of your sources, your story will be awesome. The helpful links will come in handy, too. Thanks Anna Kathryn, for the wonderful blog today:)

Jackie P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Bennett said...

Great post Jerrie.

I think the bad guys are always the most 'fun' to write.

As for pulling up to a patrol car...take it from me, once the officer figured out you weren't trying to kill him, he was thrilled you weren't bringing him a problem to handle!

Jeanne Guzman said...

Great interview, Jerrie

Jerrie Alexander said...

Jackie, Kathy and Jeannie! Thanks for stopping by.

Kathy, I loved your book Twelve Deadly Roses. Your experience with the police force really upped the realism.

You are right the deputy was awesome after he decided I was harmless!

Marty Tidwell said...

I can't wait to read your book, Jerrie! And thanks for including links to all that great information. They look like great resources.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thanks Marty! Isn't it awesome? There are tons of helpful people who give up their time to answer questions. I'm sure some of mine were dumb, but everyone was polite and didn't say so.

Congratulations on your three book deal. I'm so excited for you!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait To read you new book. I know it is going to be wonderful .Congratulations!
Donna

Angi Morgan said...

Greeat post, Jerrie. Thanks for the great links for research.

~Angi

SUNFLOWER PRODUCTIONS said...

Jerrie,

I happen to be in the process of writing a book about a serial killer. I, too, have done a lot of research but stopped short of calling the FBI. lol That was a great move. My oldest daughter is getting her bachelors degree in psychology and thinking about going on in about a year for her masters. I have picked her mind so much about the psychopathic personality that she's beginning to look at me a little funny. I think I'm going to title my book "The Ezra Project". It probably won't be ready until sometime next year but I'm having fun trying to understand the mind of a serial killer.

Jeri

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

When I get home - having a root canal done - I'll tell about the police phone call I got after sending in query about the color of uniforms.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Donna, Angi and Jeri! Thanks for stopping by.

Jeri, the book sounds intriguing. Nice to have someone in the family that can help. I understand the "looking at you funny."

Alyson Reuben said...

I was already eager to read The Green Eyed Doll, Jerrie, but now I'm super prepped to read it! Awesome interview! And I love your sense of humor :)

Jerrie Alexander said...

Alyson! Thanks so much for your comment. Reseach is almost the most important part of the book.

In your book A Beautiful Cage the research was awesome and helped bring the setting and conflict to life.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

So, a few years back, I wanted to know the color of the uniforms for the Las Cruces, NM police. I sent an email and a few days later this officer calls me, wants to know why I want to know, even though I explained in the email I was a writer. Turns out they were have a rash of assualts when 'fake' police were pulling women over, so they just wanted to verify I wasn't wanting to know because of that. After I assured her I was just a writer, she told me they were midnight blue (not black).

Jerrie Alexander said...

Anna Kathryn, it really makes your heart start pounding when you answer the phone and they identify themselves. Glad yours turned out as well as mine.

LaVerne Clark said...

What a wonderful post Jerrie!

I LOVE suspense, so your book is now top of my TBR list when it is released. I love how you've researched your villain. I'm afraid the closest I've come to that is watching "Dexter" or the Discovery/crime channel in the comfort of my lounge! ; ) Too frightened to actually make contact with the FBI! You've given me the courage to try though. Thanks!

Jerrie Alexander said...

LaVerne, seriously, my heart almost stopped beating when he said the FBI was calling for Jerrie Alexander. OMG! But he had my letter with questions in front of him and one by one, we went through them. Then he gave me his cell number to use if I hit a rough patch. Write them, I'm betting you get a great response.

marybelle said...

I love the fact that you do all this amazing research. As a reader it is appreciated. I can only imagine what you sift through on the internet & elsewhere.

Pen said...

Really enjoyed your post, Jerrie! The helpful links came at just the right time. I'm especially encouraged by the FBI calling you back and thanking you! - Pen

Jerrie Alexander said...

Marybelle and Pen! Thanks for dropping by. Research is interesting but sometimes tedious. :)

I really have to thank Anna Kathryn for hosting me.