Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Something interesting happened to me today. After the heaviness of some of this week’s posts, I decided that today’s would be about something lighter…namely, the books I’m reading in my (very limited) spare time.

One of my all-time favorite authors is John Douglas. Ever heard of him? If not, he’s a most interesting man. Mr. Douglas was one of the FBI’s very first profilers, responsible for setting up their Behavioral Science Unit. This is back in the day when profiling was still viewed as “voodoo” by the majority of law enforcement, so Douglas’ road wasn’t easy. He’s worked on many high profile cases, including the Atlanta child murders, and had the initial idea to interview serial killers and other multiple offenders to learn what makes them tick. If you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs or read the book, Clarice’s interviews with Hannibal Lector were inspired by Douglas’ work. Clarice’s boss/advisor Jack Crawford was also based on Douglas, although from what I can tell, John Douglas is a much nicer man than his counterpart in the movie. Since retiring from the FBI, Douglas works as a guest speaker and a consultant, in addition to writing some fascinating non-fiction. He was hired by the Ramsey family to consult on their daughter’s death, and was one of the first people to publicly state that the Ramseys did not kill their daughter JonBenet (unfortunately, Patsy died before they were officially exonerated).
I became Facebook friends with Douglas not that long ago, so Facebook, that lovely little networking tool, informed me that it is his birthday today. One cannot disappoint Facebook, of course, so I obediently went to Douglas’ page to leave him a message of good cheer. And you’ll never guess what I found!

Amid the other messages was one that was clearly posted by a personal connection. A man (whom I correctly guessed to be Douglas’ son) had responded to this person, to the effect of, “He’d love to hear from you! Here is his cell phone number, and here is his home phone!”

Whoops. Now, Douglas is a man who’s responsible for putting multiple serial killers and other baddies behind bars. Not to mention all those crazy rabid writers out there who would die to have a blurb from him for their books, etc. I’m guessing his private numbers should never be out there for Joe Public to see, especially on Facebook. I also guessed that his son was a Facebook newbie who didn’t know that all of Douglas’ “friends” could see this very personal message. So, doing my good deed for the day, I sent Douglas’ son a Facebook message to alert him.

He wrote back immediately, to the effect of “Oh my God! How do I delete it?” I told him, and we exchanged a few more messages. I got to find out how one of my favorite authors will be spending his birthday, and what kind of dad he is (“the best ever!”). Pretty cool.

I especially find it interesting that this happened on the very day I was going to write about Douglas’ books. And to that end, The Cases That Haunt Us and Anatomy of Motive are must-reads.

What are you reading? TGIF!

Thanks for reading!
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  1. Julius Csotonyi

    Nice save Holli! I’m sure that Douglas’ son was very grateful for your quick thinking. For those of us who are new to various applications like Facbook, it’s such a nice thing to have someone offer advice rather than take advantage of our slips. Conicidences have always fascinated me too. Some of them are easy to explain, and occasionally these sorts of phonomenological wraiths reveal themselves as subconscious processing of information that may at times surface to just within reach of our attention: you’re sitting at a coffee shop and hear somebody say a particular word, perhaps one that sticks out because it is uncommon…and seconds later, somebody else at a different table weaves the same word into their own conversation, even though the conversations had nothing to do with each other. I think this sort of sampling by the brain of its surroundings for incorporation into its own tapestry explains a lot of the “Hey, I was just thinking the same thing!” type of coincidence. The mind is also stupendously adept at recognizing patterns in its environment, amplifying them and superimposing them on our model of the world — indeed, I imagine that this was an invaluable predictive tool used by our ancestors to better survive in a dangerous and complex environment before the advent of weathermen and the like. However, subconscious processing often seems to do little to open inroads into understanding the cause of more elaborate coincidences, which involve more than the synthesis of patterns. A personal example is the day I strode out onto the dock, fishing rod in hand, and just prior to my first cast, experiencing the weird precognitive sense that I was going to get a bite on this first cast. Moments later, I pulled in the fish, never having gotten a bite on a first cast before, and I was not an avid fisherman either. *resume twilight zone-tune*

  2. Story Teller

    Very cool coincidence, Julius! And well said, as always.

    I’m really hoping John’s son gushes about this wonderful writer who saved him from a million wacko calls, but he’s probably hoping Dad never finds out. 🙂

  3. Julius Csotonyi

    Thanks Holli! I suspect that you may be right about John’s son not gushing about the incident. 😉 However…in his gratitude, he may say good things about you to his father nonetheless. This strategy may have the same positive outcome. 🙂

  4. Story Teller

    Hi Julius,

    I certainly hope so! 🙂

    Take care,


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