Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why do you read true-crime books?

Who reads true crime books?

That's a pretty important question to true-crime authors (and their editors), who should know their audiences intimately. But what do we really know about the typical true-crime reader?

Well, the one of most startling facts to me is that the typical true-crime reader is a woman. What, you thought bloody crime stories were only male territory? I did ... until I wrote one. In fact, the number of female true-crime readers is said to exceed the 60% of general female readership of all books (although probably somewhat less than the 99% female readership of romances.)

The numbers hold true in reader responses about my true crime/memoir FALL. Easily 2 of every 3 letter-writers and readers at a signing or other book events are women. True, it's a story about a crime against two young women, randomly chosen and brutally terrorized by a couple of male thugs ... talk about most women's worst nightmare. But I never saw it as a "women's book." Why are women drawn in greater numbers to such stories?

"I know I am in the right career when I hear from women who feel their lives have been saved by something they read in one of my books," true-crime queen Ann Rule says.

Somebody has probably studied this phenomenon, but I'd prefer to hear from real readers -- especially women -- why they are drawn to true-crime stories.

So ... why do you read true-crime? What fascinates you about the genre?


3 comments:

Love, Rita said...

Oh, I was just hoping someone would ask...

I LOVE reading true crime because it exposes all of the flaws inherent in human nature. It allows us the opportunity to experience, through the words of a skilled author, horrors that most of us will never experience. I appreciate the utter banality of my own life after I emerge from a world in which raw emotion and wanton violence have become "the norm".

So, thanks for asking!
(More, please!)

Kelly said...

I am a 30-yr old female and have avidly been reading true crime novels for about 8 yrs now.

I suppose that since I cannot relate to the 'snap' that many killers seem to experience or to their inherent predilection to blood and suffering.. it is as if I feel the need to understand WHY... Why do people kill? I enjoy reading about their childhoods, their upbringings... what are the common denominators here? Why do some spark public interest and some do not?

I think women are also drawn to dramas, especially reality-based dramas - it is exciting in a very sick way, but we are emotional creatures and do feed off of all kinds of emotion.

Another theme that seems to arise is that abusive sadistic men often had abusive sadistic mothers. What the hell! How can we prevent ourselves from being these mothers... breeding these monsters?

Just a few insights for you =)

Ivy said...

I read them. I don't know what draws me to them other than the raw emotion felt while reading something that we know is not made up. Its real. It really happened. Someone experienced it.. Just about everyone feels something when they read something that really happened. It pulls at your emotions in one way or another.