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JT Hunter Interview Published on: 07, Mar 2018

Grant us a peek into your early life and tell us a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up? Did your interest in literature begin at an early age?

I moved around a lot growing up so I'm not really from anywhere in particular. Yes, I've enjoyed reading for as long as I can remember. Capote's In Cold Blood first drew me into the true crime genre.

What caused you to pursue law? Have you ever met any criminals and had conversations with them? If so, who was the most memorable?

The versatility of a law degree attracted me...it enables you to practice law, teach, and even write books! Most of the subjects of my books were deceased before I wrote about them, but I am able to "talk to them" through the case files, witnesses, and other evidence left behind.

What is one common misconception people have about criminal investigations based on TV shows that just never happen in real life? Having said that, what are some of your favourite crime TV shows or movies?

The so-called "Perry Mason" moment when someone accused of a crime breaks down on the stand under questioning and suddenly admits guilt. My favorite true crime films and shows include OJ Made in America, Catch Me If You Can, Zodiac, and Law & Order.

Are you working as a college professor full-time at the moment? Do you plan on becoming a full-time author anytime soon?

Yes, I would love to become a full-time author someday, although I would miss teaching.

Are all of your novels based on true events and people? Have you ever added your own elements to a story to make it more interesting?

Yes they are all based on and about true events and people. I recreate real events utilizing literary elements and sometimes emphasize some facts over others or make reasonable inferences, but I never just make things up out of the blue.

Where do you usually go to find the research for your books? Which book of yours had the most gruesome history or research material?

Interview witnesses, review trial and hearing testimony, read depositions and other court documents, and analyze police investigative files. In Colder Blood was the most gruesome due to the crime scene photos.

Who was Oscar Ray Bolin? Is there any significance behind the name of the book"Death Row Romeo?

Bolin was a serial killer who preyed on women in the Tampa, FL area in the 1980's. Yes, while on Death Row, he wooed and married a woman who was working on this case.

Of all the serial killers you've written about, which one did you find most complex or interesting?

John Crutchley (the Vampire Rapist) and Israel Keyes. Crutchley because of his appearance of normality, his white collar job, and his top secret security clearance with the US government. Keyes because of the extent of planning and methodical preparation for his crimes and also because he genuinely seemed to care for his daughter.

When did the events behind "In Colder Blood" take place? Have any of the friends or family members of the Walker family contacted you after you published this book?

Approximately one month after the Clutter family murders. Not yet, but I'd welcome the opportunity to talk with them.

Why was John Crutchley called "The Vampire Next Door"? Do you think any of your neighbours could be potential murderers?

He drank his victims' blood before killing them. Well, it's certainly possible....after all, how well does anyone really know their neighbors?

Since you spent a lot of your past dealing with crime and killers, and now you write about them, have there ever been moments where you find yourself in a very dark place because you're always surrounded by it? How do you keep a cheerful disposition in those situations?

Great question, and yes it happens frequently. After each book is done, I take a break from writing to recharge emotionally and psychologically. Otherwise the darkness would take root.

What has been your greatest experiences as a professor/teacher? Do you ever miss being a criminal investigator?

The moment a student's face lights up as he or she experiences a new insight. Each time it happens I'm reminded that I made the right choice.

What are some writing do's and dont's you follow when writing true crime? What is one rule that you never ever break?

DO present the stories in a manner that's respectful to the victims and their families. DON'T stray from the facts and reasonable inferences drawn from them.

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