True Crime Master Gary C. King

My name is Gary C. King, and I’m an author of true crime stories and books—something I’ve been doing as a freelancer for the past 32 years or so, often between day jobs until a few years ago when I was finally able to leave the regular work force behind and work as a writer full-time.

It was around 1980 when I took over Ann Rule’s job as Pacific Northwest stringer for True Detective magazine and its affiliated “dick” books or magazines, about the time that she wrote The Stranger Beside Me, her “Ted” book about serial killer Ted Bundy. But I digress, and need to get back on target before I go on a tangent. Detectives in the early days were, of course, often referred to as dicks, both in fiction and real life. We, writers and editors alike, loved the moniker and used it frequently.

Dick books aside, I should now point out that I make no pompous or grandiose claims of literary merit regarding the stories or books that I’ve written, though readers do seem to like them, and the niche or genre of true crime has provided job security, at least for me, as people cannot seem to stop killing each other and readers do not, thankfully, wish to stop reading about the horrible things that people do to one another. The True Detective stories were simply old-fashioned, pulp-style nonfiction chronicles that appeared in magazines with garish, often tasteless covers--typically with a beautiful woman on the cover being brutalized or murdered by crazed killer holding a big knife, gun, or ligature. Before I started writing for them, I was embarrassed to be seen looking at them on the newsstand!

The magazines had short shelf lives, as all monthlies do, and typically went out of circulation soon after they hit the newsstands, never to be seen again except by collectors or the writers who wrote them. But they were very popular, often with print runs that ran into hundreds of thousands of copies. The rags, as their editors sometimes referred to them, typically paid $250 per story, and writers such as me and Ms. Rule had to learn how to write several each month under various pseudonyms in order to pay the rent and put food on the table for our families.

Thank God I was able to break into writing books a decade later and I didn’t have to write them for as long as Ms. Rule did—multiple articles a month, some months, of 4,000-5,000 words each became exhausting! But it was a living, and over a period of about 10 years I managed to crank out roughly 400 of them. I’ve never regretted writing them, or the experiences gained from the process.

Meeting the families of victims, which sometimes occurred, was more often than not a very sad but emotionally rewarding experience. I’d always known what sympathy was and always expressed it toward those who had lost loved ones, but early on I learned what empathy was all about, too, when I’d sit with a victim’s family and end up crying right along with them. It’s not a job that I can easily recommend to others, but the numerous “thank-you” messages I’ve received over the years from victims’ families, and victims who’ve actually survived attacks, for writing the truth and telling their stories and those of their loved ones just like they happened—without embellishments or fabrications—has made it all worthwhile.

In addition to publishing 16 books and the aforementioned 400 or so detective stories, I’ve also written extensively for Investigation Discovery’s website, and I have occasionally written a story for Crime Library. After years of being traditionally published, however, last year I decided to go indie and republished four of my earlier titles for the Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers, that I held electronic rights to, and I plan to publish new material in the same fashion in the foreseeable future, including a compilation of my True Detective stories.

That’s probably enough about me, at least for now. But before I forget, I want to thank Kelly Sons for inviting me to participate in this blog tour—it’s my first. I hope that I live up to her expectations. I also want to express my appreciation for her blog. It provides fascinating information about criminals of the fairer gender that I’d personally like to see more of, and she has done a marvelous job of helping fill that need. Keep up the great work, Kelly!

Readers who are interested can join me on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook. You can also learn more about me and my books on my website, www.garycking.com.

Finally, as part of this blog tour I may provide additional details at some point regarding the history of the so-called dick books, gleaned from my own subjective experiences and those who have written objectively about those magazines, and how I happened to fall into the genre of true crime. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

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