What Were they Thinking?

I didn’t get round to sharing this link on here when it was first recorded. Col and I had the ‘pleasure’ of discussing The Castle of Otranto with the incredible author Violet Fenn. I’ve used speech marks around the word ‘pleasure’ not because I don’t enjoy chatting with Violet (she’s awesome) but the choice of reading material felt like a cruel and unnecessary punishment.

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers

Just a reminder that Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is currently available for pre-order. The book is going to be released on Valentine’s Day and it tells the story of two brothers connected by a shared passion.

In the novel, this is how we meet the elder of the two brothers: Derek Turner.

“I’m getting a message,” Derek declared.  “It’s from someone with the initial J. Does that mean anything to anyone?”

He stood alone on an otherwise empty stage: a dishevelled man with thinning curly hair, wearing a rumpled grey suit and assuming a slouching posture. Yesterday’s five o’clock shadow made his jawline fuzzy. A blinding spotlight bathed him in whiteness, as though he had just been helped down to the stage by the hand of God or the transporter beam from an alien spacecraft. Derek drew a deep breath and refused to let his nervousness show. He had never been nervous on stage before and he wasn’t going to start with such theatrics now.

He intended spending his first half hour on stage at the Swansea Playhouse doing cold readings. Clive’s remote voice was in his ear, whispering occasional words of encouragement and commentary, whilst Derek cajoled the audience with cold readings to get them to accept his abilities as a medium before he started using any of the hot-reading information supplied through his brother.

“The initial J,” Derek repeated.  “Does that mean anything to anyone here tonight?”

There was a moment’s hesitation.

There always was.

No one ever wanted to be the first to say they believed: that was just a sign of foolish gullibility. But someone would bite soon enough because the majority of them were in the room wanting to make contact with someone who had died and it was an unwritten law of every Conversations with Dead Friends show that, if the punters didn’t bite early, they’d never get another chance.

“The initial J,” he prompted. He glanced toward the left of the auditorium and said, “I’m sensing it might be someone on this side of the room.  Does the initial J mean anything to anyone here? I think it’s someone who passed after a long illness.”

A hesitant hand went up. “My mum died from a long illness,” a weak voice told him. “But the letter J doesn’t mean anything to-”

“I’ve got the letter J and a long illness,” a voice to his right declared triumphantly. Derek turned to them, thinking that this sounded like the winning call from someone playing a game of ‘Dead Relative Bingo’.

Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is currently available for pre-order and will be released on Valentine’s Day 2022.

Monday Morning Update

These last three months have been a whirlwind of research and writing.  In an attempt at authenticity and accuracy, I’ve learned more about serial killers than I thought it was possible for someone to know without actually being a serial killer. To some extent this has been a disturbing journey because some of these individuals make for grim reading.

For example, Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer and sex offender who committed the murder and dismemberment of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts—typically all or part of the skeleton.

And then there’s Ed Gein, who is classified as a murderer rather than a serial killer because he was only convicted on two charges of murder. I’ve read accounts that suggest he might have been responsible for his brother’s untimely death. But that’s only speculation and remains an unproven accusation. However, Gein also exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin, all of which adds to my argument that studying his activities made for some grim reading.

Not to mention Peter Kürten: a German serial killer, known as ‘The Vampire of Düsseldorf’. He committed a series of murders and sexual assaults in 1929 in the city of Düsseldorf. In the years before these assaults and murders, Kürten had amassed a lengthy criminal record for offences including arson and attempted murder. He also confessed to the 1913 murder of a nine-year-old girl in Mülheim am Rhein and the attempted murder of a 17-year-old girl in Düsseldorf. Kürten committed the majority of his crimes using a hammer although he did occasionally vary his MO by stabbing or strangling.

It’s been a fascinating experience learning about these warped individuals. But it’s also been a disheartening journey as I’ve uncovered aspects of man’s inhumanity to man that I never imagined I’d encounter. 

The book is currently available for pre-order and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing how it’s received.

Monday Update

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I’m currently writing a book about serial killers and psychics.  Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is now available for pre-order and should be released on Valentine’s Day.

For my own amusement I’ve been having some fun with this and taking genuine quotes from some of these sick and twisted murderers and presenting them online as inspirational quotes.  The results, I feel, are darkly amusing.  If you find any of these offensive, I apologise for causing upset.  If you find any of these amusing, feel free to share them with like-minded friends.

And please remember that Conversations with Dead Serial Killers is now available for pre-order and should be released on Valentine’s Day.

The Problem with Serial Killers: BTK (Dennis Rader)

Dennis Rader murdered 10 people in Sedgwick County, Kansas between 1974 and 1991.  He was given the name BTK because of his trademark MO which followed the cruel and simplistic process of Bind, Torture and Kill.

Rader was born in 1945 and, although this is a year before the Boomer Generation began, he made a typical boomer mistake that led to his incarceration: he didn’t know how to operate a computer.

Rader had been flaunting his superior intellect over the authorities pursuing him by sending letters to the police and to newspapers. However, as we all know, writing isn’t easy and involves things like words, grammar, spelling and pens. Much easier for the busy twentieth century serial killer, with the writing abilities of a Love Island contestant, is sending messages on floppy disc.

However, Rader wasn’t stupid and decided to ask the police first to ascertain if sending them a floppy disc would be safe for him, or if there was any danger of them tracing his identity/location from such a form of communication (or ‘commication’ to use Rader’s word).

The police responded to his question through a newspaper ad and told Rader it would be perfectly safe.

Rader, who could win a gold medal if stupidity or gullibility was an Olympic sport, believed them. On February 16, 2005, he sent a package containing a purple 1.44-Megabyte Memorex floppy disk to KSAS-TV in Wichita. He also included some trinkets to prove he was the genuine BTK.

According to an article in the Atlantic:

“The disk contained one valid file bearing the message “this is a test” and directing police to read one of the accompanying index cards with instructions for further communications. In the “properties” section of the document, however, police found that the file had last been saved by someone named Dennis. They also found that the disk had been used at the Christ Lutheran Church and the Park City library.

Landwehr (the Wichita detective responsible Rader’s capture) says Rader had taken pains to delete any identifying information from the disk. But he made the fatal mistake of taking the disk to his church to print out the file because the printer for his home computer wasn’t working.

“It’s pretty basic stuff,” Landwehr says about the reconstruction of the deleted information. “Anybody who knows anything about computers could figure it out.”

A simple Internet search turned up a Web site for the church, which identified Dennis Rader as president of the congregation.”

Which, again, takes us to the conclusion that Dennis Rader is as thick as shit in the neck of a bottle.

The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker

The Ash & Col Podcast is, once again, live. This week we’ve been talking about one of my favourite horror shorts: The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker.

It was interesting going back to this story because, whilst it’s an effective piece of writing that works well as a piece of horror literature, revisiting the story allowed me to see some of the inconsistencies in the narrative that I hadn’t noticed the first time around.

This is a link to all the podcasts.

If you do listen, please remember to tell friends, hit the like/subscribe button, and participate if possible by suggesting future titles that we might want to consider.

The Problem with Serial Killers: John George Haigh

The Acid Bath Murderer

John George Haigh was born on 24th July 1909 in Stamford Lincolnshire. Whilst he is known as one of the UK’s most despicable serial killers, it should be remembered that he was a stupid fucking idiot with the brains and likeability of fish in the office microwave.

Haigh was brought up in a fanatically religious household. References to ‘the Lord’ were used frequently to remind Haigh that he was always observed by a disapproving deity. Haigh himself claimed that his childhood was bleak and lonely. He had no friends. A tall fence ran around the house, erected by his father, to prevent social contact with the outside world.

Haigh’s parents belonged to the purist anticlerical religious sect known as the Plymouth Brethren. Bible stories were the only form of entertainment allowed in the house. Even participating in sports of any kind was forbidden. According to Haigh Snr, the world was ‘evil’ and the family needed to keep themselves separate.

Personally, I tend to agree with this verdict of the world, but I don’t think it’s an appropriate way to raise a child, unless you want the little idiot to grow up to become as stupid as Haigh.

Haigh was convicted of killing six people, although he claimed to have killed nine. He got his soubriquet as ‘the acid bath murderer’ from his particular form of disposal: placing corpses into acid until they were mostly dissolved. However, I’m calling him exceptionally stupid because Haigh believed this method of body disposal meant he would be exempt from the law.

According to the Crime and Investigation website:

“It was while he was incarcerated that he thought up a new scheme to become rich quickly, instead of toiling for a living. His plan was simply to go after rich, older women. Haigh had also convinced himself that if there was no corpse, then there could be no conviction. Such a belief no doubt prompted him into working with sulphuric acid in the prison’s tin shop where he experimented on mice and made studies of the effects of acid on animal tissue. After Haigh was released from prison, he set out to carry his heinous plan.”

And it’s this notion of no body/no crime that puts him at the top of my list of stupid people who’ve gone on to garner fame as serial killers. He was clearly greedy, manipulative and evil in every way that matters – but he was finally (and deservedly) hanged because of his incredible stupidity.

I’ve included a couple of images in this blog post that illustrate that there are no longer any idiots in the world who make insanely stupid misunderstandings.

Ashley Lister is currently working on a novel that involves researching the history and MO’s of a range of nefarious serial killers. This blog post is another excerpt from his notes.  Conversations with Dead Serial Killers will be available early in 2022.