Kat: Welcome Cara Lee! So happy to have you visit The Crime Cove today. Congrats on your debut true crime book and latest volume in the Crimes Canada: True Crimes that Shocked the Nation series. Would you share with us what the Crimes Canada series is all about?
Cara Lee: Crimes Canada is 24 book short-read collection depicting some of Canada’s most notorious criminals. One book is published each month from the multi-volume collection through VP Publication headed by crime historian Dr. Peter Vronsky and true crime author and publisher RJ Parker.
Kat: How did you get interested in the case of Luka Magnotta?
Cara Lee: Once I expressed interest in writing a book for the series, my publisher RJ Parker suggested a couple of options for cases I could tackle. Luka’s name was on that list and after doing a quick search online I was immediately drawn to Luka’s story. I had heard about the case when it happened, but I didn’t recognize his name immediately from the list. I knew right away that I wanted to tell this story because it was such a media sensation.
Kat: In my opinion, you have done a lot of good research on this case. How much research is involved in writing a book? How do you decide what to include and what to leave out?
Cara Lee: There was a lot of research involved. This was a bit of a different experience for me because I generally conduct interviews myself when writing any article. For this book, I relied heavily on articles and information that was already published. I started researching the book months before it’s release date and I read everything I could get my hands on through online searches so I was as familiar as possible with the case before I even put pen to paper. I wanted to have a good sense of what happened so I could determine what parts of this story needed to be included. I think my background as a journalist helped me to determine the parts needed to be included in this book. I used a lot of information from the psychological report that was presented by the defense. I think that information really gave the readers an insight to the type of facts Luka was giving his doctors to add validity to his not criminally responsible defense.
Kat: Luka tried to get away with this murder with an insanity defense and putting the blame on a person named Manny. Do you believe Manny really existed?
Cara Lee: No I don’t believe he exists. I think Luka was smart enough to realize it that it might confuse the issue a little if he could place blame on this so-called Manny character. At the very least it would use police resources to search for him and they did in fact do that. In this day an age, I find it hard to believe that with the technology we have available, that police couldn’t find Manny if he was in fact a real person.
Kat: You touched on groupies and it sounds like Luka has his fair share of them. What do you think of his recent ad looking for a friend and lover?
Cara Lee: Honestly, I think his joining the matchmaking website for inmates was another way for him to make the news. It’s been what, six whole months since he was heavily reported by news outlets? The last time he really made the news was when he dropped his appeal of his sentence I think that was just another way for him to get his name in the media again.
Kat: The laws in Canada are very different from those in the USA. Some would argue we are much too lenient to those who pose a threat. Although, Luka received the maximum sentence he could under our laws, he could still be back out on the streets before he’s in his mid-50’s. What do you think of this?
Cara Lee: I really wish "life in prison" meant a lifetime in prison in Canada because I think Luka will reoffend as soon if he is released. There are so many instances of just how screwed up our justice system is. There was a case from my teenage years I recall where a rapist and murderer served just 13 years before being released on parole. It totally makes me sick.
Kat: So a bit about you...Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Cara Lee: I got started in the field of journalism when I was 16 years old. I would spend a few afternoons each week working at a daily newspaper as part of a course I was enrolled in during my last year of high school. It was my experience working at that newspaper which made me realize that I wanted the type of career where I could tell people’s stories, so I enrolled in a two-year journalism program. From there I held positions as a freelance writer, reporter, associate editor and then editor of a newspaper, before moving into the field of Marketing and Communications where I remain today. I still do a lot of the same style of writing – telling people’s stories. Even though I’m in my 30s now and have been in my field for over 15 years I still love what I do every single day. It’s a great feeling when you wake up every day and still want to go to work!
Kat: What were you like at school? I bet you were good in English.
Cara Lee: I was pretty shy in high school believe it or not – I hated to even raise my hand in class to ask questions. Without a doubt my favourite subject was English. I absolutely loved having to read books and dissect them. Math and Biology – not so much of a fan. I’m told that any time someone starts talking Math at me (and I say “at me” because a lot of it goes over my head) my eyes literally glaze over LOL! But once I got to college that’s where I started to excel because all of the journalism courses were really interesting for me. It’s during this time that I started to come out of my shell. That’s the thing about this type of career – you don’t stay shy for long. You have to strike up conversations with complete strangers and having to get up in front of hundreds, or thousands of people to ask questions and take photographs will quickly knock that shyness out of you!
Kat: What draws you to True Crime and do you see yourself writing in any other genre some day?
Cara Lee: As I have mentioned, I was working at a newspaper when I was still in high school. While I would l write articles that were more feature style as opposed to hard-hitting news – it was during this time that there was a missing persons case a teenage girl. It was all over the news in the province where I’m from. Her murderer (who was 16) actually “helped” police search for her for three weeks before he confessed to her murder and led police to her body. Because I was working at the newspaper, I was privy to the details of the case including details that weren’t published at that time. A few years later I read my very first true crime book, which was about that case, and it stuck with me. When I saw that RJ Parker was looking for authors for the Crimes Canada series I thought it was a great opportunity to try my hand at true crime and hopefully people like my style of writing. I haven’t given a lot of thought to writing for a different genre at this point but I rule nothing out. Down the road if inspiration strikes, I could see myself working on a mystery.
Kat: Which writers inspire you?
Cara Lee: Hmmmm that’s a bit of a tough one because I read so many genres. I get my love of reading from my father and growing up I would often read the books he had finished. He liked crime fiction so I read a lot of books from the likes of Iris Johansen and JD Robb. But most recently, I’d have to say RJ Parker. I can attribute my love of true crime to him because it was just in the past year that I really got into reading true crime.
Kat: Why do you think people love to read about true crime?
Cara Lee: I think people want to know what makes a killer tick and that ultimately fascinates them. They want to know what circumstances could bring someone to carry out such acts because it is so far from the realm of what an everyday Joe would do. I think because you or I don’t have a frame of reference for why someone would actually carry out the act of killing another human being, and then desecrating the body further by cutting it up like in Luka’s case, it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around what drove someone to do it. And that’s where true crime authors come in – to give you the details that explain that made this person the way they are.
Kat: What book are you reading right now?
Cara Lee: I just finished Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson last night (it’s one of those books where I had to stay up until I finished it). It’s the type of who-done-it book that I love and just when you think the story has revealed the murderer, out of nowhere it’s like BAM! and totally blows you mind with a twist you didn’t see coming. Love books like that. It’s a romantic suspense as I felt I needed something different from reading about psychopaths but spoiler alert – even this book has them so I just can’t get away from them! I absolutely love the writing style of urban fantasy authors Darynda Jones and Robyn Peterman. When I need a story that will make me laugh out loud, those are the ones I turn to. But the next book I’ll be reading is Serial Killer Case Files by RJ Parker. I have a long day of airplane rides tomorrow and I want a book that will really keep my attention. Plus it might give me some inspiration for my next project.
Cara Lee: I'm doing a radio interview with Al Warren at ZTALK RADIO and that podcast will be available to listen to in August. As well I'm planning a local book signing for the near future.
Kat: Can we expect to see more true crime books from you in the future?
Cara Lee: For sure. I haven’t thought of a topic for my next project. I figured I would take the summer off but hopefully this is just the beginning! I guess my biggest hope is that people like my style of writing. I like to give people the facts as impartially as possible and let them make up their own minds about the case.
Kat: What advice would you like to give aspiring authors?
Cara Lee: I think the biggest roadblock for aspiring writers is just getting started. It’s daunting to take on a project like a book – even for someone who is an experienced writer. The main thing is to set aside some time each day to really dedicate to writing. It may take a while of staring at a blank screen before it starts to flow, but trust me it will.
Kat: Where can readers purchase your book?
Cara Lee: The best place to find it is on Amazon but its also available in paperback from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Here are the direct links:
Kat: Well thank you so much Cara Lee for taking the time to answer some questions for your readers. Really looking forward to what you have in store for us next.
Cara Lee: You're very welcome and thanks for having me. As a treat, I'd like to gift a Kindle ecopy of my book to 3 lucky readers. Simply fill in the attached Rafflecopter form and I'll draw the winners next week.