Sunday, October 26, 2014

When Real Life and Fiction Collide

Cincinnati Skyline

In 1965-1966, my main interests were boys, learning how to drive and school, pretty much in that order. So I paid little attention to the news, never realizing how what was going on then in my city would mirror the novel I would write many years later.

You see, after my first Malone mystery was published, I learned something that actually gave me chills. From October 1965 to December 1966, a man attacked, raped and murdered seven Cincinnati women. He strangled them, using either an article of their own clothing or something that was readily available to him. With one exception, the women were attacked in their homes. The media dubbed him “The Cincinnati Strangler.”

The Cincinnati Police apprehended Posteal Laskey, a cab driver, after the last attack. He was arrested and convicted of the seventh murder. He never confessed to having committed any of the crimes but the attacks stopped when he was taken into custody. He died in prison in 2007.

If you’ve read Mixed Messages, much about The Cincinnati Strangler will sound familiar to you. Although I didn’t know about the real life case when I wrote my novel, there are so many similarities between what I wrote and what actually happened. Hence, the chills!

In the book, The Westwood Strangler attacks women in their homes and he uses whatever is at hand to strangle them – just like The Cincinnati Strangler. The Westwood Strangler is on the loose in a neighborhood on the west side of Cincinnati. All of The Cincinnati Strangler's victims were attacked within a few miles of Westwood. Without giving away my plot for those of you who haven’t read Unfinished Business, the sequel to Mixed Messages, I’ll let you in on a secret: the total number of victims for The Cincinnati Strangler and The Westwood Strangler is exactly the same!

Was it merely a coincidence that what I wrote all those years later so strongly paralleled what really happened? Or, even though I didn’t consciously remember the news stories, did my subconscious retain bits and pieces for all those years? I guess we’ll never know. 
Leave a comment for a chance to win paper copies of my first two Malone mysteries, "Mixed Messages" and "Unfinished Business."
Jean Henry Mead is the winner! Jean, your books are in the mail. I hope you enjoy them! 

Happy Halloween!

9 comments:

  1. Fact sneaks into fiction when you least expect it. This is an excellent book, and learning about the similarities between the book and life is unexpected and does send chills down the spine.

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    1. Marja,
      I've always known that my writing has bits and pieces from my life and from stories I've heard but this one "threw me for a loop." :)

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    2. This one would have thrown me, too. :)

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  2. Mystery writer Marlys Millhiser once told me that a murder she had written abuot in one of her novels came to pass. Was it coincedence or did her book give someone the idea to commit the crme? That probably crosses nearly every mystery writer's mind at some point in their careers.

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    1. I know what you mean, Jean. That's crossed my mind too. Along those lines, I once wrote a short story and, lo and behold, someone else had written a book with the same plot, which was made into a movie. I hadn't read the book but I happened to see the movie and, of course, it didn't thrill me that it wasn't based on MY story. :)

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  3. That's an interesting blog post. It's kind of scary to think what our subconscious mind holds onto that might later come out.

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    1. It sure is, Evelyn! Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Creepy stuff, Patricia, and oh so appropriate a blog with Halloween coming up. I'm always surprised when I look at your picture (so warm, inviting persona, she must write children's books) to pair it up with the author of your tension riddled mysteries. so why am I not then surprised that your subconscious could hold onto these events and putthem into your book somehow?!

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  5. Lesley,
    I guess it's true that appearances can be deceiving. Think of all the serial killers in history. For example, people said Ted Bundy was like "the boy next door," friendly and personable. LOL

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