In crime on April 10, 2012 at 6:23 am

I have been a fan of crime fiction since I first learned to read and have poured over the  

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, gone into the dark with Poe, puzzled my way through Agatha Christie’s mysteries and visited the gritty underworld of Leonard Elroy and Elmore Leonard so when I came to my first opportunity to publish the allure of the crime genre inspired me to write Loot. I was greatly influenced by the fast paced crime movies like Snatch and Pulp Fiction and wanted to write something with a contemporary, pop-noir edge.

The process of writing a novel is actually quite straightforward (for me anyway) and I simply sketched out the story and had fun writing the scenes as they scrolled through my head like a set of frames in a comic book. I have come to feel that fiction writing is like reading fiction except in reverse. Instead of the words producing the images in my mind’s eye, those images are the driving force that gets put down on paper (metaphorically speaking in these days of virtual paper) as I write the words that make up the story. The success of this novel led to the opportunity to ghost write a true crime book about Australia’s most wanted man, Malcolm Naden.

Writing this book was a completely different experience to writing my novel Loot. In the fictional work the victims are all the inventions of my imagination, but in the true crime book they are real people. The people that Naden murdered were real people, his crimes are genuinely disturbing. I had begun the project with the aim of writing a book that was styled in the way that Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood had been. I wanted to sketch out the pivotal scenes in my description of Naden’s behavior and his crimes in dramatized scenes to connect the reader with the most crucial aspects of the story. This meant that I had to play out what might have happened in my head based on the various police and media reports that I had to reference and to do that I found that I had to put myself into the point of view of the killer. I had done that with Loot’s bad guys too, but this was a real person, not just a character, and so making that connection with the events went much deeper and resulted in a much darker book than I had imagined that I would write from the start.

I had read a lot of true crime and so the cruel possibilities of the human psyche weren’t unfamiliar to me but researching a true crime novel takes it to a different level. Instead of reading the end product of someone’s research it was me that was deep into the forensic information, reading the police reports about the crime scene, considering the cause of death of the victim. It was like I was the detective rather than the guy writing about him. My first foray into true crime writing has changed the way I write, and the way I think about my fictional works.

For those that aren’t familiar with Malcolm Naden’s story, he has been on the run in the Australian outback since strangling a woman in 2005. He has eluded capture for all of that time by living off of the land in Northern New South Wales and, until recently, had been a haunting presence in the bush there. In those seven years he had drifted towards the realm of myth and legend as he time and again just melted into the wilderness and disappeared to avoid capture by the police. The $250,000 bounty on his head is the highest ever offered for a fugitive in Australia and has made him the subject of a lot of internet buzz with the NSW Police having to issue a statement to dissuade bounty hunters from going into the Barrington Tops to look for him. He was captured recently and so I have been engaged to write the sequel as well. This, I am sure, will lead me down even more dark paths. The first volume, Malcolm Naden: The Ghost of the Outback should be out soon.

I intend to write more crime fiction as well, with another novel in the process of being written at the moment. I am also a well known writer on the subject of modern occultism and have ventured into that other dark and fascinating genre, horror, with my second novel Master of the Crossroads, a steampunk inspired tale of Voodoo and zombies.

The e-book about Malcolm Naden has just been released on Smashwords at: via

Next week, Sherrel Lee will be our guest and she will entertain us with some interesting and original takeon Jack the Ripper. Don't miss it!

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