I’ve always been a true crime freak. I have no basis for how I became this way, so I just let ‘er rip and went on a 30 year wild ride as a federal agent.
My book, “A Hunt for Justice” (www.ahuntforjustice.com) is a creative non-fiction in the true crime genre. Since I used The Hero’s Journey as a template and implemented many other fiction techniques, my book reads like a mystery.
“A Hunt for Justice” explains how I went undercover in Alaska posing as a big game hunter. I infiltrated an international ring of poachers and took them down. Lots of terrible things happened along the way, but like all heroines, I emerged as a stronger person.
Had my book been written as a fiction piece, I would have had the protagonist falling in love with the case agent—placing their marriages and jobs in serious jeopardy. I’d also have one of the hunting guides or obnoxious hunting clients hitting on the protagonist in this remote Alaskan camp where she’d have nowhere to run. Or, I might have her sleeping with her informant. Oh my! Sexual tension, especially if it’s forbidden, makes for great fiction. You all know that!
Crime writers are always trying to create genuine and compelling crimes for their plots. Look no further! Great crime stories are all around you. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Take for example Col. Russell Williams commander of a large air force base near Tweed, Canada who in 2010 was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, forcible confinement. Wow!
Williams was the epitome of a severely disciplined military officer. His image was that of an imposing square-jawed man whose uniform looked like it had been painted on him. On top of this he was a crack pilot and was known for flying dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth, around the world.
His wife was the perfect “Mrs. Colonel,” active in the officer’s club and several other do-gooder organizations. Her self-esteem was inextricably tied to her husband’s rank and privileges. When her husband went down, she crashed and burned.
Williams makes for a near-perfect criminal character. When he wasn’t flying, saluting and marching around, he was stealing women’s lingerie—the sexier the better. The “victims” didn’t report their losses either due to embarrassment or perhaps didn’t consider the thefts to be significant.
As many criminals do…Williams’ crimes escalated. He started breaking in to women’s homes and sexually assaulting them. Part of his MO was to film everything with his trusty, government-issued video cam.
Still not satisfied, Williams’ crimes escalated another notch when he started dragging women off to rape and assault them. When he committed murder he was tracked down and arrested.
When the cops searched his home and garage they found hundreds of pairs of underwear displayed on large boards like a butterfly collection. They also found video tapes of him in action along with pictures of him posing in women’s underwear. Trust me the picture of him in a bra is not pretty!
Williams pleaded guilty and is now serving a life sentence.
As a fictional character, Williams has many traits that writers can exploit. On the outside he’s sterling, but his secret night-life leaves one stunned. This case provides a tremendous amount of basic fodder for writers to make a character like Williams their own.
In an internet article I read about Williams I learned about some of the successful interrogation techniques the cops used on a man very full of himself. The article also referred to William’s body language and how it deteriorated throughout the interrogation.
My mind races when I think of all the possible embellishments that could be added to this incredible story of a killer in command. The framework is there…..but it could be told so much better, by a writer!
Lucinda D. Schroeder is a retired federal agent with 30 years of experience. She holds a degree in Criminology and is the author of “A Hunt for Justice.” Schroeder is a Savvy Instructor on crime related topics. Here is her schedule of classes:
January 2-29: Firearms for Writers
March 3-April 1: How to Try a Murder
April 30 – May 27: Inside the Criminal Mind
July 15-June 11: The Language of Liars
September 17-October 14: Undercover Work for Writers
If you’d like a synopsis of these classes, e-mail me at Lucinda203@gmail.com
Hope to see you in class! Cheers, Lucinda
*Edited by Teresa Crumpton*