Welcome to the blog! I’ve got Michele Drier talking about times when real life is stranger than fiction.
Millions of people read mysteries—murder mysteries. They read thrillers, puzzlers, police procedurals, private eyes and cozies. The protagonist can be an antiques dealer, a real estate broker, a shoe designer, a private detective, a police, Secret Services or FBI officer.
But there’s always a body, or several bodies.
Readers may scoff at the situations the protagonists encounter and say, “Boy, this author has an imagination. That couldn’t happen in real life!”
Don’t be too sure!
There was the short story we ran about the man arrested for assault—on a horse. He was caught in a pasture with his pants down around his ankles. The horse didn’t testify.
Covering the cop shop doesn’t always result in interesting, bizarre stories, but a lot of the time it involves murder. And beyond the grisly serial killers, the mass murderers, are quirky ones.
The drug dealer whose pals shot him, stuffed his body in a sleeper sofa and were sitting on it watching TV when the cops arrived.
The real estate agent who was shot with a crossbow while waiting for clients in an empty house.
I spent about twenty years, on and off, in newspaper newsrooms around California. I didn’t cover the police beat, but I assigned the reporters who did, and I edited their stories. And what stories.
When I was at the San Jose Mercury-News, there was a rash of serial killings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With typical gallows humor, somebody would say “any new bodies,” every morning and get a sour look. Six young women disappeared and the bodies of another woman and her friend turned up before Edmund Kemper turned himself in. He also killed his grandparents in an earlier spree.
In Modesto, a woman, her daughter and a friend disappeared from a motel on the edge of Yosemite National Park. We were the closest large newspaper and covered the disappearance, the search, the FBI work, the family, the discovery of the burnt car, finding the bodies, the murder of a young Park worker and the eventual capture of Cary Stayner.
As we covered murders over the years I thought this is what I’d use if I ever wrote a novel—how newspapers cover murders, how they play them, how much they interact with the police and how journalists dig to find facts.
Many of the stories are stranger than fiction…you can’t make some of this up.
One of my favorites: My police reporter covered an arraignment. The bad guy pled guilty. She wrote a brief. Then I watched her on the phone, getting agitated. When she hung up she said it was the bad guy, yelling at her for saying he pled guilty. Why? Because, he said, “I told you I was innocent!”
What’s your favorite stranger than fiction story?
About Michelle: Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is on Amazon and the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, is published.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers. All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story and Danube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in fall 2013 and a seventh book later in 2013.
Cindy here again!
Great post, Michele. It’s so true. Some things that happen in real life you couldn’t put in a book without people questioning if it could really happen.
Until next time…