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 Boy Missing: The Search for Kyron Horman. I have written other books
about missing people, but I have never been as emotionally involved for as long a period of time as I was with this one. My hope with Boy Missing was to understand and share how Kyron Horman’s disappearance affected a community, the people who knew and loved him, and those who came to care about him after June 4, 2010. That’s the day when, like millions of others, I began following Kyron’s disappearance.
Authors count on police reports and trial transcripts to tell a complete and accurate story. Because Kyron is missing and his is an open case, there were no police reports, no interviews with detectives, no arrests, and no trial transcripts to rely on.
I have depended on interviews, news accounts, court records, depositions, letters, journals, emails, social media, speeches, and eyewitnesses, as well as information shared by Kyron’s family and friends. An indispensable help has been people with expertise in no-body homicide cases, missing children, and civil lawsuits.
My other books include a true crime memoir, A Murder in My Hometown, about the murder of
a high school classmate, and A Killing in Amish Country: Sex, Betrayal, and a Cold-Blooded
Murder, and If I Can't Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the
Murder of Her Children.
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 three years on Boy Missing and four years on Ted and Ann. It takes a minimum of
two to three years to obtain police records, interview people across the country, and piece
together a story that is, in some cases, a cold case. I work hard to win and keep the trust of the families of missing people by often spending hundreds of hours talking with them.
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 (the pseudonym of several authors who wrote the Nancy Drew series).
I also read and study the work of non-fiction writers I admire, including Joan Didion, Nina
Burleigh, Thomas Mallon, Truman Capote, Bill James, Erik Larson, Ron Rosenbaum, Simon
Baatz, Dave Cullen, David Shields, Calvin Trillin, Kevin Cook, and others. I learn from people who conduct research and write about their methods, including Robert A. Caro and Casey Cep.
There are a number of people who research and write about women who commit crimes, and I am indebted to them: Kathleen A. Cairns, Cheryl L. Meyer, Michelle Oberman, and Geoffrey R. McKee.