From True Crime to Fiction


Today’s blog is written by Gregg Olsen, author of new YA thriller RUN. His background is in True Crime, and here he talks about how his research has informed his fiction…

I’ve lived a life of crime. Not committing any, of course, but talking to those people who have.

The list is daunting: A man who killed his pregnant wife, and then later his son; a mother who smothered her children; a woman who had her boyfriend kill two of her husbands. (That’s right – two).

All of my work is infused with bits of reality that I’ve gleaned over the years. My latest true crime release is about a young mother who went missing and the subsequent murder of her sons by their father. Susan Powell’s story and my book made the UK news this week, and amongst the comments are some snide and cruel remarks about Susan and why she didn’t leave her husband before things escalated to such immense proportions.

This message is for my younger readers, the ones who enjoy a good crime story (like I hope you’re enjoying RUN at the moment). I’m fascinated by what propels the normal to the unthinkable.

Let’s take Susan’s case. Why does a young mother stay? Why does a teenage girl fall in love with a boy who has serious mental health issues? The answers are tragically simple and heartbreakingly tricky at the same time: love, and the good nature of a girl like Susan Cox Powell. She fell in love with Josh Powell and she probably thought she could help him, support him, and make him happy. Heal him. Be his soul mate.

Does any of this sound familiar? In RUN, Rylee plays back moments in her life in which she senses something was wrong, when she suspects things were not as they seemed. She gets an inkling somewhere deep inside that there might be danger lurking.

Susan Powell did that too. But despite red flags, things her parents told her, warnings made by friends, she persevered. She thought love could conquer all. In hindsight we know that it didn’t and that it doesn’t. You have a meter in your soul that warns you.

Pay attention to it.

Follow Gregg on twitter @Gregg_Olsen