By Caitlin Rother
The desperate search for two lost innocents, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, led authorities to a brutal predator hiding in plain sight: John Albert Gardner, a convicted sex offender who could have been returned to prison several times over. Pulitzer-nominated writer Caitlin Rother delivers an incisive, heartbreaking true-life thriller about a case that galvanized its community, first by grief and goodwill, then by anger and injustice, as it came to grips with a flawed system that failed … and adopted a law that will forever change how we keep our children safe.(Kensington/Pinnacle, July 2012)
Caitlin, thank you so much for visiting with us here at Between The Pages. Please take this opportunity to tell our readers a little about yourself.
After 15 years of trying to get a book published, my first book, POISONED LOVE, came out in 2005. Since then, I have become a New York Times bestselling author or co-author with about 310,000 copies of my eight books in print. I am now working on books #9, 10, 11 and 12, so as you can see I have my hands full. I also teach creative writing, narrative non-fiction and journalism at University of California San Diego Extension, I work as an editorial consultant/book doctor, I do regular TV and radio appearances as a crime expert, and I speak to groups large and small. Before becoming an author, I worked for nearly 20 years at major metropolitan newspapers as a Pulitzer-nominated investigative reporter. In 2006, I took a risk by quitting a full-time staff writing job with health benefits and a 401K to pursue my dream of doing this full-time. And I’ve never been happier. To learn more about me and my other titles, please visit my website at http://caitlinrother.com.
Do these books ever give you nightmares?
I get asked this a lot. I used to say no, but the more I do of them, the more the cumulative effects they seem to be having. I wouldn’t say they give me nightmares per se, but I do have dreams where the victim will speak to me (as Chelsea King did, telling me she wanted to tell me her story), or one of the killers I’ve interviewed will show up, or my mind will concoct some bizarre situation and I will wake up thankful that it never happened. But all in all, I feel like I’m doing something good by writing these books – by helping to educate people that people are not always what they seem. Killers can be manipulative and charming people.
What compelled you to write this book?
I live in San Diego, and after watching my own community reeling from the emotional fallout of this case, I was feeling it too. I felt in my gut that I really wanted to tell this story – both sides of it, and very much in-depth. Knowing that I could tell the back story of how John Gardner evolved into the man who could rape and kill two teenage girls, I felt I could go deeper than any reporter had gone before me. And despite the dark subject matter, the investigative passion of revealing new facts energized me. I felt this book was more important than some of my earlier ones because people are so scared of losing their children to sexual predators, and I felt we could all benefit from knowing why this happens. We, as a society, seem to have so little understanding of these men and how to deal with them. For some, I believe, it is just too repulsive and difficult a subject to ponder, but burying our heads in the sand won’t stop these crimes from occurring. I’m hoping my book will provide some insights that will help prevent such tragedies from happening again.
Do you write in other genres?
Yes, I do. So for those of you who don’t think you can stomach these books – although I want to point out that I take a psychological approach to these stories, and try to stay away from blood, gore and descriptions of violence – I also co-author inspirational memoirs. I have a crime thriller out as well, and am working on another one as we speak.
New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother has written or co-authored eight books, including Poisoned Love (Kensington, December 2011), Dead Reckoning (Kensington, February 2011), Twisted Triangle (Wiley, 2009), Body Parts (Kensington, 2008), Deadly Devotion (Simon&Schuster/Pocket, July 2011), NYT bestseller My Life, Deleted (HarperOne, October 2011), and Naked Addiction (Dorchester, 2011). Her latest true crime project, Lost Girls (Kensington, July 2012), chronicles the rape and murder of two innocents, teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, by sexual predator John Gardner. Rother, a Pulitzer-nominated investigative journalist with more than 270,000 copies of her books in print, has also been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and The Daily Beast. She has done dozens of TV and radio appearances as a crime expert on Nancy Grace, the Jay Thomas Show, E!, the Oxygen Network; Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record,” Investigation Discovery, “America at Night,” American Radio Network, XM and numerous NPR/PBS affiliates. Rother also works as a book doctor/editorial consultant and teaches journalism and creative writing at University of California, San Diego Extension.
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