I grew up in a house with no children’s books. But I was uninterested in entertainment geared towards kids, even then – I dreaded Friday night sleepovers at friends’ houses, because I hated Saturday morning cartoons. I wanted to stay up late and watch Charlie’s Angels and Quincy and reruns of Ironside.
As the much youngest child of six, I was surrounded by books and music left around by not only my mother – at the time, she tended towards Agatha Christie, which I devoured – but my brothers and sisters. By the age of eleven or so, I was reading Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter, Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It was true crime I became addicted to early; stories of the lives of killers, well-written books that sucked you into their minds and their crimes.
Happily, this did not mean that I was a budding psychopath. (And my mother was hands-off with my reading choices; by the time I came along, she was just happy I was a quiet reader.) It did, however, make me realize that my curiosity and cast-iron stomach around the darkest aspects of crime might hold me in good stead one day.
In fact, it did lay the foundation for some of my later career choices, and most recently my foray into crime writing – fiction, that is. As a young person reading true crime, I always wanted to know two things: How, and Why. I have since learned that in real-life crime, the Why is usually either mundane or unanswerable. In the world I created with Cracked, I can make the how’s and why’s mysteries, but they will always be answered eventually.
And if not in this book, in the next.
Cracked by Barbara Leslie is published by Titan