Don’t skip the hard work

Back in the 1990s when Virgin Books launched the Doctor Who New Adventures they advised aspiring writers, like me, that writing a book is hard work and warned that anyone who found it easy was almost certainly doing something wrong. This is perhaps the best piece of advice I have received in my writing career, […]

The Best New True Crime Series

This was a good week for the series of Best New True Crime Stories edited by Mitzi Szereto. The third volume, Well-Mannered Crooks, Rogues and Criminals was released and the second, Small Towns, was selected by Book Authority as one of the best new books on Criminology. I contributed to both, benefiting from Mitzi’s skill […]

Two repentant convicts

One of the benefits of researching Jack the Ripper is the introduction to the many fascinating characters who lived around the same time. Their stories are largely untold because they were poor. People like William Onion, possibly Britain’s convicted man, who reformed and became a noted street poet. In my unpublished biography of Onion, I […]

Allegations without facts

“On the twenty-first of May, Frederick Deeming passed away.” Frederick Bailey Deeming was labelled the criminal of the century after his execution in Melbourne on 23 May 1892. A folk song with a fictitious date forever linked him to a greater fiction that he was Jack the Ripper. Deeming killed his wife and four children […]

Well-mannered Crooks, Rogues and Criminals

The latest instalment in Mitzi Szereto’s true crime series is published on 15 June. This anthology of stories about rogues contains my piece on Charles Chadwick, also known as Andrew John Gibson, a notorious international conman and serial bigamist. One of the earliest reviews pays tribute to Raffles, the gentleman criminal created by E. W. […]

Should we judge the past?

Society is changing. Attitudes and behaviours which were once considered normal are no longer accepted or tolerated. This can create issues for readers and viewers of older material. Should we be offended, judgmental or willing to accept that the creators of the work had different values to our own? I have largely taken the third […]

Honesty in autobiographies

I recently commented on Peter Haining’s biography of Sweeney Todd which made the Demon Barber appear real and the growing trend to merge fiction in fact. One of my favourite autobiographies is Left At East Gate, by Larry Warren, which covers the authors involvement in the Rendlesham Forest UFO case. I was unconvinced by the […]

An impossible search?

One of my ongoing research projects is an attempt to identify Mary Jane Kelly, victim of Jack the Ripper. She told her last boyfriend of a birth in Limerick, childhood in Wales, possibly Carmarthenshire or Caernarvonshire, where her father was a foreman in an ironworks. At the age of 16 she married a collier, possibly […]

The Demon Barber

This week saw the release of The Demon Barber, my 64th published story and first contribution to the Doctor Who project. In 1998 members of the Telefantasy Appreciation Society of Canada began planning their own version of Doctor Who, releasing their first story in January the following year. Around the same time, I read a […]