Most writers like myself have heard the advice, "Write what you know." I think those are very wise words. When my husband and I started writing murder mysteries together, I knew that I wanted to talk about Ivan, a convicted murderer. I used to hang out with him when I was 13 and he was 11. When he was in his mid-twenties, he broke into his girlfriend's house, killed her husband and brutally attacked her. He gained further noteriety when he escaped from the county jail by climbing down from the roof using tied-together bed sheets. He made it all the way across the country before the cops finally found him.
Ivan is a main character in three of our Detective Santy mysteries. I've made him the biological father of my female Homicide Detective, Clarissa. Throughout the series, she struggles with the fact that she is his child and despite her better judgment, tries to help him readjust to life outside of prison when his 30 year sentence is up. The real Ivan is up for parole right now.
My friends ask me, "Aren't you afraid that he's going to hear about you using his name and story?" I tell them that first of all, I don't use Ivan's real last name. Plus, he'll probably never get out of prison after threatening the judge during his trial. I've made him a much nicer person in our books than he actually is. He was a nice kid and I don't know where he went wrong. My husband says, "Even Charles Manson was probably a nice kid once upon a time." Ivan does make a good character for a book.
Here is where the story starts:
The Tustin Chronicles: A Detective Santy Mystery is available at most online bookstores.
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