Writing teachers always tell their students, "Write what you know. Everyone has their unique story to share." Taking their advice, I based a suspect in my murder mysteries upon someone I briefly knew when I was 13 and he was 11. I met him at a miniature golf course and he came over to my house a few times. I had forgotten all about him until one day I read in the newspaper about a particularly savage murder committed by him when, in his early twenties, he attacked his ex-girlfriend and her husband with two claw hammers, shot them, and left them both for dead. The husband died and the ex-girlfriend now is brain-damaged. I remembered him as a nice kid and couldn't imagine him doing something so brutal; but it was true, and he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He became quite notorious when he escaped from the local jail and ended up clear across the country before he was finally caught.I wanted to try to show the humanity in someone who had committed such a barbaric act. I asked myself, 'What if he had a daughter, who's a homicide detective, and she lets him live with her and tries to help him when he gets out of prison?' My sister told me, "Aren't you afraid he's going to come looking for you when he gets out?" I seriously doubt that: it's not like my books are famous or anything and I don't use his real name. He shows up in three of the murder mysteries my husband and I have written.
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