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Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Fascination with Crime Stories



Congratulations to Julie, the winner of Alison's giveaway! Thank you to all who participated.
From the time I was a little girl, certain crime stories have captured my imagination. It seems to be the stories where the victim wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. They were just going about their day, like every other day, when tragedy struck.  

In the early 80s, I wasn’t yet a teen when an eight-year-old girl was murdered in a nearby suburb a few weeks before Christmas. Murders rarely happened there. Even today, a murder in this suburb is huge news. Anyway, I remember specific details. A neighbor was interviewed on the news saying she recalled the girl, “just the day before” singing Frosty the Snowman while building a snowman in her front yard. Immediately I conjured up an image of the young girl. She could have been anybody. She could have been me. And unfortunately, the lure of playing outside in the snow probably sealed her fate. Turns out someone had seen the quiet teenage boy who lived down the street pulling a red sled with a box on it. The sweet little girl’s body was in that box. He used the sled to dispose of her body in a nearby creek. The image still evokes powerful emotions.

More recently, a mother of four went out for a jog. The first sign anything was amiss was when she didn’t show up at her four-year-old’s pre-school to pick him up. Her image was plastered all over the evening news. Tragically, two days later she was found murdered on a bike path that wandered through affluent neighborhoods. The subsequent investigation into her murder lead to the capture of the man called “The Bike Path Rapist” who had been terrorizing the suburbs of Buffalo, New York for over two decades.  This was an unimaginable tragedy for her husband and young children. I couldn’t get certain thoughts out of my head. Had this dear woman thrown a load of laundry in, ran a few errands, then decided to go for a run? What were the chances this woman’s path crossed exactly with the murderer’s on the bike path on that day at that moment? What if one thing had been altered that day? It surely would have changed the course of her fate.

I think the reason I am so fascinated—maybe haunted is a better word— is because I  personalize the victim. Their life ended in tragedy, but that’s not what defined them. They were loved by many and had hopes and dreams—and families. They didn’t go looking for trouble. They were just out living their lives…building a snowman, exercising. Their fate could have been anyone’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. My heart goes out to them.

So, it comes as no surprise that my fascination with crime has led to my becoming a writer of romantic suspense. I read a story in the newspaper a few years ago that inspired my debut novel, Random Acts. The police in a small town, pulled over a young college student who had unpaid traffic tickets. When they learned this, they coerced her into signing an agreement to be a drug informant in exchange for leniency. The young woman had never used drugs. She had unpaid traffic tickets! The girl’s father was a lawyer and raised a red flag to both the town and the local newspaper. The Village Board refused to change the policy. (Not sure where it stands today.) But it got me thinking. I started researching and learned many other cities have the same policy and unfortunately, young people who had been forced to be drug informants because of minor charges (sometimes completely unrelated to drugs) have lost their lives. A few high-profile cases have resulted in changes to the laws in some towns. (Google: Florida Rachel’s Law.)

From there, the idea of Random Acts was born. Here’s the blurb:

Second chances can have a terrible sense of timing.

As a child, watching her mother always pick the wrong man left Danielle Carson wary of opening her heart to anyone—except Patrick Kingsley. But circumstances came between them and left Danielle with a broken heart. Now she buries the pain of what might have been by channeling all her energy into her career. When a family crisis brings her back to her hometown, she is forced to face the past—and the disturbing fact that her sister’s car accident was staged to mask a brutal beating.
A police officer and widower, Patrick guards his heart as fiercely as he guards his beloved daughter. Seeing Danielle again unexpectedly reignites their old flame, but no way will he introduce a woman into his daughter’s life. Certainly not one whose values on faith and family are so different from his own.
Despite their best intentions, they are drawn together—until Danielle learns Patrick had a hand in putting her sister in harm’s way. Her fragile trust is crushed, but Patrick is the only man who can help her stop the villain before everything they both love is destroyed. Faith, family…and their second chance at forever.

Read an excerpt

Random Acts available at:

Check out Alison Stone on her website (AlisonStone.com), her blog (alisonstone.wordpress.com), Twitter (@Alison_Stone) and on Facebook. She loves to connect with readers.

Have you ever been haunted by a news story? Be sure to make a comment. Be sure to stop by tomorrow and read about how Alison’s fascination with crime stories affects her day-to-day life. One lucky commenter from today or tomorrow will win their choice of a $10 gift card from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Giveaway ends 9pm EST April 22nd. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email justromanticsuspense @ gmail.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 


27 comments:

  1. The news story that haunted me was when Susan Smith drowned her two children in the lake. It was so horrifying and I lived very close to where this happened.

    yenastone at aol dot com

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  2. Oh, I remember that, too, Tammy. It seemed for days they suspected her (ex) husband. So sad...especially since two beautiful young boys were killed.

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  3. enjoyed the post, Alison. Sounds like an exciting read. Good luck.
    Emma Lane
    Dark Domino

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  4. Love romantic suspense, so many of the stories of today haunt me, I work in EMS so anything to do with trauma is difficult. Although you can see I love to read about it. Having the anniv of the OK bombing just past, I guess that one is something I will never forget and was prob one of the first huge tragic incidents of my day. Thanks for all your good work, lsscarchuk@att.net

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  5. LS ~ I can't imagine working in EMS. But I'm grateful for those who do. The OK bombing was horrible. Back then, I passed Timothy McVeigh's childhood home on my way to/from work everyday. I'll never forget seeing a ton of news trucks outside the home. I would often see his father out working in the yard. My heart broke for him as it did for all the victims of the bombing. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. I find your story intriguing. No one murder stands out in my mind, but certainly the kidnapping and brutal murder of Adam Walsh has always haunted me. I'm certain it made my mother keep a closer eye on me, and me keep a closer eye on my own daughter all these years later. Cherie Durbin, ButchDurbin@Charter.net

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  7. Thanks for stopping by Cherie. The beautiful photo of Adam Walsh with his missing front teeth while he holds a baseball bat is heartbreaking. His father used that horrible tragedy to make a difference for future missing children.

    By the way, I think I'm going to have to watch a nice light comedy tonight otherwise I'm going to have bad dreams.

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  8. So many tragic stories on the news... I try not to watch too much of it especially if it is about children... those are the ones that really get to me... seeing their photos and knowing that someone or something cut their lives short is heartbreaking.

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    1. Colleen ~ I had a college roommate who never watched the news. Instead, she'd watch Arsenio Hall before going to bed. Sometimes when I see the tragic stories on the news, I think she had the right idea. At least she probably slept better. Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. One of the news, that haunted me was finding out that my friend and co-worker was killed by her ex-husband before he turned the gun and killed himself. When the news was announced, it didn't give out the name of the victim but for some reason, my sixth sense just knew. I guess I picked up signs from her that something was wrong but she remained a bubbly personality and don't talk much about her personal life. I always kept wondering if I should have said something but all I have was just a feeling something was very wrong with no proof. Maybe if I made a fool of myself and possible destroyed my friendship with her, she would have been alive.

      kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    3. Kai, I'm so sorry about your friend. Don't beat yourself up over "should have's." The only personal responsible for her death was her ex-husband. You were a bright spot in her otherwise difficult life. Take comfort in that. :) Peace.

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  9. A lot of news stories nowadays are pretty haunting.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I agree. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  10. There have been several stories that have haunted me. One recent one was a of a man who killed his girlfriend in their hotel room, dumped her body in a public park, drove her car around, and was arrested several days later. This one haunted me because I had babysat that man 15 years before. I had taken him to Little League in the same park where he dumped the body. It was just too close to home for my comfort.

    bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

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  11. Wow, bas1chs, that would have been horrifying.

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  12. The most recent news story that has our attention is the murder of two Chinese students at USC. We still don't know if it was a hate crime or a deal gone bad and a hit, but I'm rather wary about setting foot on campus now, being of Asian descent and a student.

    julieguan AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Julie, that's horrible.I hope they arrest someone soon. Take care & thanks for stopping by.

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  13. News stories that haunt me the most are those that involve children.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. I agree. Those stories are always difficult to see.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Thanks for a great post! A few years ago I saw on the news that an 19 yr old was arrested for brutally beating and raping another teenage girl. The boy was one that I had seen in our children's hemo/onc clinic for at least 5 yrs before this. Never in all that time, did I suspect that he would be that violent. Guess you never know what's in a person's character.

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    1. I think that's the scariest part ~ you don't know what's in a person's character. The "Bike Path Rapist" I mentioned above, went to church and volunteered his time with his son's basketball team. Can you imagine his children when he was finally caught?

      Thanks for taking the time to post.

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  15. You caught the word for how I feel about certain news stories "haunted". I started out writing true crime & have now switched to fiction but still keep the stories alive in my books. The three that grabbed me are children taken/killed in safe places their bed, their mother's bed & a public washroom.
    Your book sounds fascinating, particularly in light of where your idea came from. I am very interested in reading it.
    Please enter me in your draw.
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. Janet ~ I also saw your comment on my other post. Sounds like you have a fantastic background to write fiction. Good luck.

      And as much as I'm intrigued by true crime, I do have to be careful to balance it out otherwise I have nightmares.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

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  16. Like reading crime stokers and getting the bad guys
    Congrats bon the book
    Kimh
    Kime@yahoo.com

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  17. I continue to be haunted by news stories. It seems that it's one tragedy after another. I do take comfort in the fact that for every 'horror story' there are hundreds of uplifting stories we don't hear about.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  18. Marybelle ~ thanks for stopping by. I find I tend to Tweet the good stories. My favorite one of late was a young boy in LA who made a arcade out of cardboard boxes. A filmmaker made a short video on him that went viral. Here is the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032619/ns/nightly_news/

    You'll smile after seeing it. I know I did.

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