I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Matt Wesolowski’s novel, Six Stories today and to bring you this awesome guest post:
“When I see a pretty girl walking down the street, I think two things. One part wants to be real nice and sweet, and the other part wonders what her head would look like on a stick.”
– Edmund Kemper
Alongside cryptozoology and the paranormal, the serial killer phenomena is something that I’m fascinated with and have been for a very long time.
The first time I heard about the idea of a serial killer came, not from a fiction book, but an unauthorised biography of Marilyn Manson a friend of mine lent me when I was 15. The book , strangely, had about a 50:50 ratio of the story of the Florida rock star (and one of my all time heroes) and some of the biggest hitters in the world of US serial murder (not so heroic!).
The reason for this inclusion in a book about a musician was the stage names of the band members; Marilyn himself; a mash up of Marilyn Monroe and Californian cult leader Charles Manson. There was Daisy Berkowitz – (Daisy Duke and the Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz); Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy and Ginger Fish.
Whilst Manson (Marilyn) was my teen idol, I found myself utterly consumed and grimly enthralled by the antics of his and his band-members’ namesakes.
There’s a wonderful second-hand bookshop in Newcastle’s Grainger Market and it was there I got hold of a copy of ‘Helter Skelter’ by Vincent Bugliosi. I read books about John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Albert Fish; it became another obsession. My mum had recently acquired dial-up internet and I would spend hours hogging the phone line in the gloomiest corners of the internet reading more and more about serial murder.
Just to be clear, I never idolised these people, but their exploits thrilled me, as they do many others, the market for true crime is a large one.
Amongst compulsively buying these titles, I discovered Brian Masters, a British writer who wrote some of my favourite books about serial murder. Killing for Company: The Case of Dennis Nilsen (1985), The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer (1993) and She Must Have Known: Trial of Rosemary West (1996).
Rather than revelling in the grotesque or glamorising the killers, Masters’ prose is sympathetic, it is honest and it is deeply readable. I was hooked. In my opinion, Brian Masters is the king of true crime and anyone with a lingering interest in serial murder would do well to read him. Another stand-out true crime title is Tony Thorne’s Countess Dracula, an amazing historical autobiography of countess Báthory Erzsébet, alleged to have killed and tortured hundreds of young women between the years of 1585 and 1609. Reading this one in Newcastle City Library between split shifts when I was a chef inspired me to try and write a historical fiction novel about the ‘Blood Countess’ (played magnificently by the late Ingrid Pitt in Hammer’s Countess Dracula(1971). 14 years later and it’s still not finished!
For a writer to construct a serial killer is a huge challenge; I’ve tried and failed many times despite my ‘research’. I figure I should just stick to reading about them!
To finish, I would like to leave a book recommendation from recent times. ‘The Girls’ by Emma Cline, a novel that’s plot is based on the ‘Manson Family’ murders in the late 60s. Cline’s novel, the subject of which is not only a crime-aficionado’s dream, writes beautifully. I listened to this one as an audio book and found it utterly inspiring in terms of craft.
As abhorrent as it is, fact, a great deal of the time, can be more captivating than any fiction.
Thank you so much for joining me today Matt, it’s been a pleasure handing over the reigns and finding out more about your admiration for true crime.
Matt’s novel, Six Stories is out now!
Here’s the blurb . . .
One death. Six stories. Which one is true?
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.
‘Wonderfully horrifying … the suspense crackles’ James Oswald
‘Original, inventive and brilliantly clever’ Fiona Cummins
‘The literary equivalent of dark metal – gritty, dark, often shocking, and always exciting. A masterful debut’ Kati Hiekkapelto
You can get your copies over at:
About the author . . .
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery