Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know why Rebecca writes the way she does, what she does in her free time, or what she’s working on now? Read the questions and answers below.
What is your latest book?
My latest book is "A Murder in My Hometown," about the murder of a high school classmate when we were seniors in Corvallis, Oregon. It is part true true crime, part memoir of life in a college town where we grew up divided into the haves and have nots. His murder was never closed, and I set out to find out why.
My other books include "A Killing in Amish Country" and "If I Can't Have You," both with Gregg Olsen.
Why do you write true crime stories?
Although I worked in what we call 'daily journalism' for years – meaning you are reporting day in and day out and have many deadlines every day – I always knew I wanted to have a chance to work on a story in depth. My first book, "Ted and Ann," was the result of a story I did for The Seattle Times about Beverly Burr, a mother whose young child had disappeared in 1961. I came to know Bev and asked if I could continue to visit her and write a book about how she and her family lived with never knowing what happened to Ann. There had been a myth that she might have been Ted Bundy's first victim, but that angle had never really been investigated. I decided I would do it. Since then, I find myself drawn to stories that fit into the true crime genre.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I spent four years on "Ted and Ann." It took time to obtain police records, interview people across the country, and piece together a story that is more than 50 years old. Gregg and I have spent more than two years on "If I Can't Have You." That has been challenging because so many sad events occurred after Susan disappeared. The story kept changing. It's been an honor to get to know Susan's parents, her sisters and her friends during the process.
Who are your favorite authors?
I usually read fiction while working on a true crime book. Right now I'm reading or re-reading the work of women who were writing noir or pulp fiction in the 1930s and later, including Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell (Barbara Vine), Dorothy B. Hughes, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, Olive Higgins Prouty, Valerie Taylor (Velma Young), Vera Caspary, and Faith Baldwin. And let's not forget Carolyn Keene!
I also read and study the work of non-fiction writers I admire, including Thomas Mallon, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Bill James, Erik Larson, Ron Rosenbaum, Simon Baatz, Dave Cullen and others.