July 13, 2021

Meredith Doench And Her Favorite Prison To Visit

Meredith Doench And Her Favorite Prison To Visit

Ep:092  Meredith Doench is the author of the Luce Hansen thriller series. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Hayden's Ferry Review, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Gertrude. Her nonfiction essay "South Carolina, 2012" was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize by The Tahoma Literary Review. She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura: Journal of Literature and Photography. Meredith lives in Ohio where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition at the University of Dayton.

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Meredith Doench's Website

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Murder at the Armory by B.K. Asbury

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Transcript
Brad Shreve:

In this episode, Justene recommends a novel where a band of sleuths called the spinster sisters searched for a killer. And my guest Meredith Doench is here to not only talk about serial killers. But explain why she hangs out at a prison too. I'm Brad Shreve and you're listening to Queer Writers of Crime, featuring LGBTQ authors of mystery, suspense, and thriller novels. Justene, Meredith D Doench is my guest today. And it's interesting because this will be the second week in a row that we are focusing on serial killers.

Justene:

Oh yeah. Cause that's such a rare thing on your show.

Brad Shreve:

We haven't had any in a while

Justene:

Oh, that's interesting. I guess, uh, I guess not then

Brad Shreve:

and I can assure you, no one has been as obsessed of serial killers as Meredith. It's a good discussion about that.

Justene:

Excellent. Sounds really good. I'm looking forward to hearing it

Brad Shreve:

And before you do your book recommendation segment, I want to do a shout out. this is to Steve4803. That's the best name that I have Steve4803.. I don't know what the 4, 8 0 3 means. Uh, he put,

Justene:

it means there are 4,802 Steves before him.

Brad Shreve:

You're probably right. Anyway, Steve said, great show. Justine's reviews helped me choose my next book. And Brad knows how to have an interesting conversation with guests. I highly recommend.

Justene:

Excellent. Wonderful, wonderful.

Brad Shreve:

anybody else who would like to leave a review, we won't complain a bit. They are wonderful and they help draw attention.

Justene:

That's right. And if you want to say something, you know, critical we'll, we'll take it into account. It may be something that we disagreed with each other on and we've gone one way. And, uh, your criticism makes the other person say ah-ha I was right. All along told you, so told yourself. So, so don't feel like, uh, we're not open to, even non constructive criticsism

Brad Shreve:

actually, let me say this. If somebody would like us to do something different on this show, send us an email, which we have gotten, that's pretty cool. But if you have some issues with what we do, go ahead and put those on the review there. I see them as two different things.

Justene:

okay. that? sounds fine

Brad Shreve:

I think that's fair.

Justene:

you know, I'm sure people are going to sit there and analyze their, uh, their comments to decide, oh, should I put this in? I mean, guys, whatever you want to do, just, just, you know, communicate

Brad Shreve:

Absolutely. I had like quite a few emails last week about how much fun, Ann McMan was and how fun Chris was last week. So those are wonderful, but tell others in a nice review

Justene:

sounds great. Sounds wonderful.

Brad Shreve:

and that's all I really have to begin. It's your show now?

Justene:

Oh, it's my show now? Well, you know, I, I've probably got, you know, a, uh, a summer full of recommendations for people, but let me, let me give you my main recommendation. This is a very new author and I have absolutely no information on this author. I suspect it's even a pen name. The publication date was July 6th. The author's name is B K Asbury. I don't even know if they're male or female or where they live, or if, uh, you know, there a team of high school students putting out something over the summer. I couldn't even tell you.

Brad Shreve:

with computers.

Justene:

well, I, I don't think monkeys with computers would be this clever.

Brad Shreve:

Eventually they get lucky.

Justene:

that that's right now, this was not to get lucky. This was not to get lucky.

Brad Shreve:

And what's the name of this book? Go there again.

Justene:

I will tell you the name anytime you want to. Let me

Brad Shreve:

Okay, good. I will be quiet now. What is the name of this book?

Justene:

It's called Murder At Armory and you know, with my accent. I don't always say words correctly, armory like a, a place where people used to keep weapons and everything. Most towns, armories are turned over into event space. So it's Murder at Armory. It's a Ty and Matt mystery it is book, one of theTy and Matt mystery series. And if you ever want to make sure that the series does not stop at book one go and buy it or it's on Kindle Unlimited borrow it. make sure this author, you know, has a, burst of response, and do it that way. It does say it's a young adult book? which I'm not sure. I'm not sure if that's really correct. I mean, it says reading ages 12 to 18, I think it's, it's really more of a cozy mystery. So whoever rated a young adult book is probably looking at the lack of sex, but, cozy mysteries also have the same lack of sex in them. I recommend it for the vast majority of our listeners who are indeed adults. Ty and Matt have known each other since they were 13 in Brooklyn. They're now in love and living together. They, decided that they wanted to live in a, a small town. So Ty is a florist and, Matt is a pizza maker. So they went and spent a lot of weekends going down the shore and finding a town that didn't have a florist and didn't have a pizza place. And five years ago, they picked out Ocean View. They now have a flourist shop, which they rent and they live in the apartment above and they also rent, the pizza shop and they rent these spaces from these spinster sisters. And, Hmm, I will tell you, I aspire to be one of the spinster sisters when I grow up. let me start with the mystery and then I'll circle back around to this.

Brad Shreve:

okay.

Justene:

Ty is doing and events. He's doing the flowers for an event. It's a product launch at the armory. And he goes there and the business person who we realize it's just out of money. And once avoid paying for things is complaining about the flowers, which are very high quality, but she's complaining about how she, you know, they're dying, et cetera, et cetera. And they get into this loud argument. Ty storms off. She ends up murdered in the parking lot. And he is, uh, the number one suspect of chief of police in this small town knows damn well, that Ty didn't do it. But then there were people above him in the area who, you know, aren't familiar with the ins and outs of the people in the town were really putting a lot of pressure on the police chief to arrest Ty. get it all taken care of. And so there's a lot of pressure to find the real killer by both all the police, chief, Ty and Matt and their landladies. The spinster sisters, the spinster sisters are rather eccentric. They drive a red Cadillac convertible with white interior playing Norwegian heavy metal music. They enjoy mystery. they have a ham radio, they heard the police banned over it, about the murder. They went to check it out and see, and they just happened to accidentally forgets that there was a notebook there that they picked up and put into their purse and, you know, they just forgot to return it. And now, well, they can't give it back now because they may be charged with obstruction of justice. So obviously the only thing to do is for these four to get together and solve this mystery. And that is where the series takes off the spinster sisters live in this house in which the parlor is modeled after Sherlock Holme's parlor. It's not just modeled after it. It's a, it's a copied a replica of the Sherlock Holmes parlor. They have an office upstairs that is a replica of Nero Wolfe's brownstone, and they are actually very, very good at solving mysteries. And coming up with plans and talking to other people into very, as elderly women, well known in town, who's going to suspect them. I'm not sure that by the time we get to the, the fifth book of the series, it's not going to be one of these, you know, Jessica Fletcher is always at the murder scene and the spinster sisters always happened to show up at the murder scene. But on this first, this first round, they are able to slide in and out of situations with ease because of who they are and how they act. I give this book A delightful recommendation.

Brad Shreve:

A delightful recommendation.

Justene:

oh yeah. It's just charming all the way out. They just, they ended up with a bunch of fiascos and sneaking into places and taking our personas. And it's just a

Brad Shreve:

you know, you, you said you would like to be one of these old spinsters.

Justene:

Yes.

Brad Shreve:

I can really picture you as a kick ass old spinster.

Justene:

Yes, yes, yes. that's what I aim to be. I always said when I get older, I want to be eccentric. That's my goal in life.

Brad Shreve:

well, you've already matched that one.

Justene:

All right. So anyway, I've got a few honorable, you mentioned this week. Let me just kind of, take things that don't necessarily fit into a full blown recommendation. Now, the next book that I am going to recommend is We did some of the same authors early on. I repeated, Frank Butterfield. I recommended a couple of his books and Marshall Thornton. I recommended a couple of his books as we went along. I decided that, you know, once people have discovered an author or a series that I really wanted to introduce them to something that maybe they weren't for me, They either would, you know, pick that up and like it, and then buy something else or not. So I don't usually recommend the same authors over and over. So this is not a full-blown recommendation, but these third book has come out in the Jake, Weston mysteries by Marco Realmonte. The first book was Murdered at White Oak It won. LGBTQ book of the year, when I was in, when it was a finalist, uh, independent author. I recommended that and a full-blown recommendation. I loved it. I thought it was terrific. I put it down and I immediately picked up the second one The Butcher of Oxford. And then now he has a third one out. If you're not familiar with the series. it's a young adult book. Jake does not struggle with coming out. He is out and proud and there's a fair amount of time travel alternate realities in life, which we all know. I love. The third book is called the Michaelmas Killer. Michaelmas is a holiday in England and I will garble it and offend everybody. If I try to explain it. So you either know about it or you can look it up, it starts with the some paranormal stuff. They kind of dispatch the, monster somewhere along the way, early in the book. And then it turns into a straight mystery. And then at the end, it, the epilogue has got some. paranormal back into time travel and book four in the series, really will, tickle my fancy. It promises to be a time travel book where both these guys are finally a couple and they're going to travel through time together. and I'm looking forward to that. But the third book is out is terrific. It's the Michaelmas killer. And I gave you an interesting little tidbit about that. Brad, why don't you let our listeners know what it is so they can hear another voice right now.

Brad Shreve:

Oh, I'm sorry. Well, now I've drawn a blank.

Justene:

Oh, come on. What's the

Brad Shreve:

Oh my God. Oh my God. Yes. There is a care. There is a character in this book and he's a delightful character if for no other reason, because his name, the characters name happens to be Dr. Brad. Adamac

Justene:

there we go. See, people will now start rumors that we're married.

Brad Shreve:

Well, yeah, exactly. it caught both of us off guard. Marko thought it was really funny. He, you know, Two characters in one novel that he knows, well, he just combined us together. So I don't know if he acts like either of us, you would know better than I did, but don't, don't give it away. Yeah.

Justene:

Well, I took a screenshot of that, uh, page and I, I sent it to you and you'll hear like, oh, doctor Adamac that's a, is that just a coincidence or is I'm like, it's not just a coincidence once you take a look at that first name there, Mr. Brad. And he's like, oh, I got it. I got it. All right. So I'm going to give you, I know we're running long. I want to give people one more honorable mention. I'll make this one quick. there is a true crime book and, you know, I was going to pick it up and do it, but you know, a lot of true crime books read like novels and they just have the real details. Excerpts from interviews in the life, but this is a, a history of true crime. It's called indecent advances, a hidden history of true crime and prejudice before Stonewall. It goes from the 1920s. to Stonewall and it traces how, violence against gay men and by gay men has been treated in the press. the study is by decades. He goes. The newspaper accounts, all of the, crimes that he has found, some of them haven't been talked about at all since those original newspaper clippings, and then he places it all in context, it's an excellent non-fiction study of, true crime involving homosexuals. It was originally dealt with it was nominated for the 2020 Edgar Award. for best fact crime. It was on American Masters is one of five essential culture reads. And then it was one of Crime Reads best true crime books of the year. So pick this up if you've got some, if you're not just interested in the story, but if you're interested in how, society has looked at at gay men and murder

Brad Shreve:

if you want a week without a novel and you really want to get into some non-fiction.

Justene:

it is great. It was a terrific book. so that just gets mentioned, and I think we're out of time.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. I want to say one thing though. I actually just recently, for whatever reason, I've gotten several messages from people that said they cannot believe that you and I didn't know each other before the show that we sound like we had, we sound like we had been friends for years.

Justene:

they really need to listen to our first two shows if they, think we're lying about not knowing each other.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I just hope It doesn't get out that even though we're very friendly on the show, we really can't stand each other.

Justene:

Well, there is that.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. Well, I'm going to get on with Meredith Doench. thank you, Justene

Justene:

thank you. Talk to you later.

Brad Shreve:

Hello there Meredith

Meredith Doench:

Hi, Brad I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Brad Shreve:

You know, I'm really glad you're on. We kind of sorta knew each other for a little while there. And then, uh, both of us, read at Queer Noir at the Bar, which was, online reading

Meredith Doench:

Fantastic experience.

Brad Shreve:

Yes, it was. And I kinda got you knownly you a little bit more And then on social media, we started following each other and now I feel like you're an old friend. I, you're 1500 miles away from me, but I feel like we're almost buds.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, it's really cool. I think that the writing world, it might be a part of this pandemic that we've just lived through, but I feel like, you know, there's just so much friendship and support in the queer writing community. And, that's been one of my favorite things of this past year, getting to know so many more crime writers and, people who are writing queer crime, it's been fantastic. You've been a part of that. Yeah,

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, it really has. And Are you familiar with Garrick Jones?

Meredith Doench:

no,

Brad Shreve:

Okay. He's, written some beautiful novels and, uh, he is in Australia and he and I chat pretty frequently. And we got to know each other better through interviewing him. And sometimes we even do video calls and having never stepped foot in Australia. Sometimes I feel like he is a closer friend than some people that

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. Yeah, that's really cool.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I will tell you, I had Robyn Gigl on not long ago. I told her, I rarely read prologues in novels. And when I tell people this, they, they, they really freak out.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

They can't believe that I would skip it. And I'm like, I just go straight to the, meat of the matter. but, I read hers and I was glad I did,

Meredith Doench:

Yep.

Brad Shreve:

Having read the prologue in Dead Eye, your novel, the two of you have now convinced me not to skip prologues any longer.

Meredith Doench:

I hear that a lot. It's really crazy. A lot of people say that, they just can't believe that there's prologues all three of my books and actually the one that's going to be coming out in March. It also has a prologue. So, there's a lot of people who tell me that I, you know, I just, I skip over them because I think they're like the pre-information stuff that I really don't need and jumped to chapter one, but they serve a real purpose. and so I'm glad that maybe I've convinced you to, maybe me and Robyn have convinced you with that.

Brad Shreve:

I will say yours is important. If nothing else to set the tone because it really did.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, thank you. And, and also setting plays such a big role in a lot of the books that I like the Luce Hansen series. And so I think that the prologues sort of set you into the place a little bit too.

Brad Shreve:

Yes. Yes. I am learning that now. Serial kille are an interesting social science study, because people find them repulsive and fascinating at the same time. We can't get enough movies and books about Dahmer and some of the others. I mean, how many times can you watch them? Well, apparently a lot.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

And you can count me and is one of those that's absolutely Fascinated by serial killers.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, I'm definitely in it too. As a matter of fact, yesterday was serial killer Saturday on the ID channel, and I probably spent a good four hours watching stuff that I already had seen before. So I can't get enough.

Brad Shreve:

That doesn't, surprise me in the least none whatsoever. So eventually we're going to start talking about serial killers, but first I have this. My guest Meredith Doench is the author of the Luce Hansen thriller series. Her work has appeared in literary journals, such as Hayden's Ferry Review Women's Studies Quarterly and Gertrude. Her non-fiction essay. South Carolina, 2012 was nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize by the Tahoma Literary Review. She served as a fiction editor at Camera Obscura Journal of Literature and Photography. Meredith lives in Ohio, where she teaches creative writing literature and composition at the University of Dayton. We talked about serial killers before your introduction. I think the listeners by now have figured out that there was a serial killer in your novel, Dead Eye.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually my, Well, my protagonist, her name is Luce Hansen and um, she specializes in tracking serial killers. She works for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is basically Ohio's version of the FBI and yeah, so her, her whole job centers around. Tracking these, serial killers and where they're at and what they're doing, and she's particularly good at her job. and so, I'm pretty much steeped in serial killers a lot of the time.

Brad Shreve:

and I do want to talk about your interests in serial killers but I'm worried that if I get into that, we'll have a three hour show on just that. So, so before we get onto that subject, since you've talked about Luce let tell us about Luce.

Meredith Doench:

Well, you know, she has this really special place in my heart because I've been writing her so long. Um, the first book Crossed came out in 2015 and there's been three books in this series so far. I hope it though. It will be more, but she is, as I said, she specializes in tracking serial killers. She's uh, by the time we get to the third book dead eye, she is the co-director. Of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. So she's moved really high up in her position. but she's one of those people who is really fantastic at her job and really good at what she does, but she is not very good at life. You know, she, she just, she struggles really hard and over the course of the three books, She's grown a lot and changed a lot. but she has a lot of issues with addictions. Um, she has these very strong emotions that tend to pull her down sometimes. And I would even argue that she just struggles with like friendships, even like relationships, friendships, all of that. Life is difficult for her. And I will say that some of that, you know, she had a rough go of things coming up and there's a lot of ghosts that seem to haunt her, that she can't really seem to get rid of. so just for a couple of things to kind of let you know about her, but her. Mom abandoned her and her dad when she was a toddler. Um, she went off to chase a career in Hollywood. It never came to fruition. And, she ended up actually dying of a drug overdose, but she never came back. And so Luce was pretty much abandoned and it was just her and her dad. When she was growing up. Um, and then when she was 15, Luce found her first love Marcy murdered by a serial killer. And that killer was never found at the time. That's the killer is found later in the book Crossed. but at the time when she was 15, The crime went unsolved. and it hit her especially hard, not just because it was her lover. but it was also because she found her and then also they were supposed to have met at a specific time and Luce was late. So she really has spent her whole life feeling guilty or feeling like that was her fault. If she would have been there, maybe she could have done something, you know, she would have saved Marcy, that kind of a thing. so there's that, that's kind of always haunting her. At the time that the first book opens, Crossed her father has also passed away. So she's really somebody who's kind of alone in the world. Um, and probably in some ways keeps herself alone. I don't think that there's, I think there's people who are interested in trying to, include her in things, but she, does keep herself off to herself a lot. That's Luce.

Brad Shreve:

And you'll have to forgive me. I can't remember her love interests name.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. So she meets, Harper Bennett in the second book, who is a medical examiner, for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. So by the third book, their relationship is pretty cemented. I mean, it's, it's a pretty solid. relationship and it's been really good for Luce. It's really softened her and grounded her. Um, but she still really struggled with these addictions And things like that, that Bennett isn't exactly, has trouble understanding.

Brad Shreve:

Not only that, what I saw from it, they clearly are, in love with each other. There's no denying that, but there's, there's that tension because they're, very different. And,

Meredith Doench:

Hm.

Brad Shreve:

Luce is still dealing with that, I guess, struggle to be close to somebody.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I'm curious, I want to keep writing her beyond these books because, or beyond these three, because I, I would love to get, you know, I don't know how long it's going to take to get to a place where she can let somebody in, but I'm, I'm interested in finding out what that, so that's, Luce for you.

Brad Shreve:

So at least in your head, there's more to come.

Meredith Doench:

yes.

Brad Shreve:

Since we've talked about Luce, I'm going to let you do your sales pitch here. Tell us about Dead Eye.

Meredith Doench:

All right. Well, Dead Eye is the third book, as I said. And so each book has its own serial killer that you sort of tracking, so they do stand alone. Um, but they'll stuff about Luce's life sort of, builds but in this particular book, Luce and her partner, Bennett are on vacation in South Carolina, much needed Thanksgiving vacation, and they get the call that there has been an escape from an Ohio prison with one of their most, talked about. really high profile serial killers, who went by the nickname of Dead Eye. Um, he was a serial predator and he had escaped from the prison. so, Luce has to come back and they have to track him and find him. but the timing is really interesting to her because he was known for killing people, during this. time of deer season. And Thanksgiving is pretty much when deer season in Ohio starts. So she's wondering, you know, is he coming back? Is he back for more type of a thing? So that's what it's about and he's somebody who's just a random shooter, a serial sniper in the woods. He does go back to the same location as where he was killing before, which is in Southeastern Ohio. And he uses the. Time of. deer season in Ohio is about five days. Sometimes it's six and he uses those five days To just wreak havoc on this community where people are hunting deer and he's hunting humans during that time.

Brad Shreve:

Well, that's kind of sick.

Meredith Doench:

Yes, it is.

Brad Shreve:

say the least. Now, one thing I'm curious about Luce has been promoted up to co-director, but, uh, she still has a lot of higher ups

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Given Dead Eye and his past. why was she chosen to be the person to kind of lead, tracking this guy?

Meredith Doench:

Well, some of the backstory is, you know, he was already in prison at the time that this book started and he escaped, right. So there was a whole entire investigation that had to find him there that first round after his first killings. And she was a part of that. So she was somebody who worked really closely with that case and knew about him. And that's why, she was called and plus also her level of expertise, kind of like. And her job of tracking, um, really pulls her in. But the thing that really is, makes it difficult for her in this particular case is in the past, when she's been tracking serial killers, they're usually not in such wooded areas. You know, there, this is really rural territory where they find themselves in this book. And she's not used to that. She's switched to cities, that kind of a thing like that. and this kind of pushes her to be able to use more of her senses and to be like out in these woods where, figuring out where these gunshots are coming from, she's never been hunting, you know, those kinds of things. I mean, there's a part where she's been hunting as a kid, but she, she's not a regular hunter or any of those things. It's what pushes her and a lot of different ways

Brad Shreve:

And you talk about the settings being in Ohio. I gotta tell you really took me there. Ohio tends to not be a state people think of when they think of let's go see a beautiful state, and. I had to drive from Cincinnati down to where I lived in North Carolina at the time. And I decided to take the long route. So from Cincinnati. I drove along the Ohio river to West Virginia till I got to the interstate and headed south. And I got to say seeing those old riverboat towns, which was kind of sad because obviously the river boats are there, but it just was a really cool feel.

Meredith Doench:

yeah.

Brad Shreve:

And the mountains it's just an absolutely beautiful state. How significant as a writer is the setting?

Meredith Doench:

Well, for me, it's, it's really important. I mean, I wanted her to work in the state of Ohio, but, beyond that, I just I'm, I'm somebody who grew up in Ohio, so I know it really well. and I also think that Ohio is one of those states, like kind of what you're talking about. most people don't think of it as a pretty state, but the difference in landscape between Southern Ohio versus Northern Ohio is really quite drastic and different. Right. And then there's also, the area that I write about in Southeastern, um, it is very. Hilly and very rural farmland, right at the edge of that Appalachian mountains, you know, it, it's a beautiful, beautiful area too. and so the setting was really important to me because I wanted to use some of those really open spaces to be able to. There's something about, being an open space that can feel very freeing. but it can also be terrifying to you can't necessarily get your. groundings and particularly if you're under fire. So a lot of it has to do with that too. cities, I thought made things a little bit easier for her. And so the setting really kind of pulled into this I, that, there's also a very real reason why I picked this part of Ohio is that, in this quadrant of Ohio, there have been. some active serial killers that have worked that area. And it's a very beautiful place, but it's also a really, almost feral place too. I mean, like things are overgrown, you know, things like that kind of catch my attention that the beauty can be scary too, depending on how you're looking at it. And so, that was one of the things that really caught my attention. Why people would pick this area of Ohio. It's easy to hide bodies, I would think because it's rural, but there has to be more to it. And that's really what caught my attention with, with Dead Eye. I was, you know, that, that kind of thing.

Brad Shreve:

First I want to tell people if they've ever had to drive from like Chicago to the Northeast, don't judge, Ohio on Toledo.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

There's a lot of state south of there, and there's some beautiful areas, but given your skill at really putting me there Is there any writers in particular that you learned that from or studied that

Meredith Doench:

One of my favorite writers of all time is Tana French, and I absolutely love the way she writes, um, crime fiction. Her cases happen in Ireland, but there's ways that her, particularly in her very first book In The Woods there, the way that she uses the wilderness, to be scary and to be something that sort of. Becomes its own character, is just really brilliant. And so all of her books are really, I really enjoy the way that setting works so strongly in those. Um, but she's one of my all time favorite. I also, really love, JM Redmann series, the Micky Knight series that's working. And their setting plays such a role in those. And then like Cheryl Heads, the Charlie Mack playing Detroit, There's a real feel for the city that kind of comes through with those. And so I, Yeah. I think that that's kind of where I got those ideas or where I've been thinking about them a lot. Kristen Lepionka is another one, who writes The Roxane Weary series and that's from Cleveland or from Columbus. And that also gets a real feel for the city too. I just think that the city can become, or the town or wherever their person is writing about it can become a character in itself.

Brad Shreve:

Oh, Yeah, absolutely. You talking about woods can be scary. There's a reason why Little Red Riding Hood and a Hansel and Gretel, all take place in the woods.

Meredith Doench:

Yep. I think they're terrifying, especially at night,

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. Yeah. they can be.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

So from reading the novel, I've never worked on an investigation with a serial killer, but it felt what I would think an operation would feel like. So I'm guessing that you have done your research on serial killers and, police procedures. But before I get to that, what is it that interests you in serial killers?

Meredith Doench:

Well, you know, I, I love to be afraid. Um, but I, caveat that by saying I like to be, Like safely afraid. Right? Like I want it to be like a situation where I can pull myself out of the fear. So like movies and, reading books and things like that. But I think that that's part of it. but I, you know, when I was a kid, I really was more afraid of things like monsters and ghosts. And, you know, I read all the Stephen King books when I was younger. And, all of the things that he built really scare me. towards the end of my high school career, like, you know, when I was getting ready to go into college, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested and, he was from Ohio. His first murder happened in Ohio. It was Northern from where I was, but. That was such, I mean, that just opened up this whole other wild beast of terror for me. Like it just, it, that this person could do these things to another person, you know, a human like me could do these to another person. And I just remember being fascinated and watching the news and the, the clips of them bringing those big vats out from his apartment and, flashlights going everywhere because of course they were doing it at night. And you know, the talk about. the bodies found and the skulls and all that stuff. I remember it so clearly, but it also, it just brought on as new level of horror for me that like, this is horrible. That's what I've, really found that. And so I just wanted to know everything I could possibly know about him. He was my introduction to this serial killer world.. And it sort of just opened this door for all these others that came before him for me to really investigate. I just, I want to know why I want to know how a human can do this to another person, you know? Um, and, and part of it too, I think was, a way to maybe try to keep myself safe from that type of person that maybe if I studied this enough, I would understand. Or I would be able to recognize this person moving around in my society, that kind of a thing. Um, but my next encounter with them was when I was in college, I did my undergraduate and Indiana at Ball State, and there was a lesser known serial killer who was working in Indianapolis during that time who was killing gay men, named Herbert Baumeister. And he was going around. Um, he was picking up men and gay bars throughout Indiana and Columbus. and then taking them back to this house. He had a beautiful house in the Indianapolis area. Nice job, family, kids, everything. He killed the, killed the men in his house and leave their bodies in his yard. Uh, but I distinctly remember this was not something that was talked about. And, I was in the LGBTQ group on our campus. And two men from Indianapolis came to warn our group about this person who was picking up gay men in bars and taking them and killing them. And he, they had sketches. They were just, like a grassroots. group from the Indianapolis area of gay men who were trying to get the word out because the media wasn't and that just God, I mean, that was just like, it was such a huge thing that it just caught my attention. I was scared for my friends. you know, it was just, it was a really, so I think that I've thought about it because it's been kind of part of the background noise of my life almost. You

Brad Shreve:

tend to think of a crazy killer and somebody just running down the street with a knife, and then you. read about folks like this and it's cold and calculated,

Meredith Doench:

Right, right.

Brad Shreve:

who is the guy? Um, he was attractive and, lured women into his van. I think it was down in the Southeast. Mark Harmon played him in a movie I'm totally drawn. Uh

Meredith Doench:

are you thinking about Ted Bundy? You're not thinking about Ted Bundy. Are

Brad Shreve:

not Bundy. You would know if I said his name, but I can't for the lack, me figured it out, but he fascinates me in the sense that he just like, I said, he used what he had, he was attractive and he was charming and he used that to lure women into it. Well, for lack of better word, his lair. And killed quite a few women by doing that and, and. It's disgusting. And yet at the same time, like I said, it's fascinating. Okay.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, right? Yeah. It pulls me right in every time. I'm disgusted by my self I'm pulled in, but it does pull me in every time. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

you know, there's a certain reason why people slow down when they see if that traffic accident. And we hate to admit that people do that, but they do.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

There are quite a few excerpts in your novel that made me tingle or, cringe a little bit, but there's one that really stuck. And I'm going to read it here. Lou says I couldn't deny that Dead Eye's chosen souvenir item as odd, his choice to take the victim's bloody shirt or jacket mystified. Many. However, I saw the clothing as a marker, something he could hang up on his wall the same way someone might hang their blown apart, cardboard sheet from target practice for all, to see. Bragging rights.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

The reason why that gave me chills is because I know you've researched this and the collection of items and the momentos and the calling cards. It seems like a fictional stereotype that you see in TVs and movies. But having read that book and based on your research, I'm going to guess there's some truth there.

Meredith Doench:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you know, the serial killers are well aware now that people are looking for what the souvenirs are that they're taking. So they're taking things that are more random and more weird and things that we might not miss at a crime scene. Right. but. But I was thinking particularly now this was something I purely made up. It did not come from a real case in any way, but I was thinking in my head that, something that would bring back the memory of the kill and the fact that, you know, it's still had some of the blood of the victim on it would be something that they would really use to relive. I mean, cause what they say about these. things that the killers take from scenes is that they relive the crimes over and over with them. And so I thought that a shirt or something that, you know, still had maybe the smell of the person on it or something like that would really be something that would, that would be something that would really keep them want. So that's sort of where that came from, but yeah, these, these tokens and things like that, they take they're fascinating in itself. I mean, you could do a whole, you could do, you know, fall down that rabbit hole of information and you know, of like different things that people have taken from scenes. And, it's really interesting. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

You're talking about, them smelling the victims that gave me the willies.

Meredith Doench:

I know. I know. But I really thought about that when I was putting this together that I just thought like a shirt is pretty personal. I mean, if You think about it, like the fabric against your skin, the, you know, it's, it's going to have some of the smell of you. It's going to have some of your blood if you were shot in it. so I just think it could be something that was very personal, that would excite also the, the killer with it. So I know it's pretty sick, sick, 3d.

Brad Shreve:

You need therapy? I don't know.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, it's pretty gross.

Brad Shreve:

Based on your research of serial killers. What is the most interesting thing that you've learned or were surprised by.

Meredith Doench:

The most interesting thing, I would say How looking at the different ways in which they get rid of their bodies is the most interesting thing to me. because if you think about it for a serial killer, that's their biggest problem is. They've got this human that they need to discard with. And so for me, what was really interesting is looking at different ways that people got rid of them. Jeffrey Dahmer had his own method of, liquefying the bodies basically, and then eating parts of them. But there's been lots of different ways. I mean like thinking bodies, things like that. but I am fascinated by the ways of like people like who. Try to put the bodies just like in the natural landscape. So like the green river killer, leaving them alone, the river, just to. disintegrate basically. there's a lot, there's a couple of different ones like that, who I found that really fascinated by not really trying to hide it. When you would think that this would be something that they would work so hard to hide, but yet leaving them out in the open. Um, I find, I find that to be the most interesting. you would think they would feel so much shame and stuff that they would want to cover it up and hide it. And, you know, so I don't know if that answers your question, but that's what I'm. I sort of thought a lot about

Brad Shreve:

I think it answered the question. Cause it was interesting.

Meredith Doench:

yeah,

Brad Shreve:

I'm curious, have you studied Cunanan at all?

Meredith Doench:

Um, yes, actually I have he's another, yeah. he's another one who didn't he just walked away from them. Right. I mean, he left them where they fell.

Brad Shreve:

yeah. And I'm curious in your research, I don't know how much you've researched on him. you know, Ryan Murphy did the movie on him

Meredith Doench:

Especially a good movie.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, it was really good. and I gotta say, Darren Chris, when it first started, all I could picture was Blaine and Glee. And I said, this is not going to work, but it was a very short time that he was creeping me out. a Testament to his skill because that, that whole, oh, this is Blaine from Glee thing. Did not last, very long, but there's a controversial thing in that film. And I don't know how much you've researched this to know. There's. The scene in Chicago, the famous architect, where he went into the guy's house and basically tortured him and then lived in the house. And that did happen. But in the movie, it was implied that they had had at least at some point some kind of sexual thing going on and, and the police and the family say, there's nothing to show that that was the case. Do you know anything about that?

Meredith Doench:

From what I've read. It was like he was trying to take over this guy's life, just moving into his home and living almost pretending like he's living his life. so I, I read in what the parents were saying or what the family was saying was that there was no evidence that there was a relationship, but there has to be something about this particular person that caught his eye.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah.

Meredith Doench:

and it could easily be that it was the same thing that caught his eye about Versace. Right. I mean, he didn't have any kind of a relationship with Versace, you know, he just knew him from the media. And so it could have been a similar type of a situation or, you know, somebody who caught his eye and he started, I don't know, like admiring the work he did or something like that.

Brad Shreve:

Cause it did bother me, you know, Murphy's known for stretching the truth a little bit. And despite that being an incredible, I think it was a little mini series. Wasn't it? Yeah. Waves, multi episodes. it was beautifully done. It does bother me that he, it was a very important part of the story. In his interpretation and it does bother me a little bit that we don't really know if that's what happened. that's why I was wondering if you knew more.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. no, just, I just, I think I'm in agreement with the family there, that there was no, there's nothing to prove that there was anything between them.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. Okay.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah,

Brad Shreve:

Now on top of serial killers, You teach, you teach a class on prison literature.

Meredith Doench:

I do.

Brad Shreve:

First I have to ask. I think I know what pray tell is prison literature.

Meredith Doench:

Well originally when I started teaching the class, I called it prison literature. because I only wanted it to be work that was completed by people who have been in prison. Like either during the time they were in prison or when they came out of prison. But over the course of the years, I've been teaching the class. I think that this year will be my eighth year doing it. And so I've had to kind of adjust that a little bit so that we have some things that are about like, written about prisoners, who from, you know, authors who haven't necessarily been in prison. but all of the work in the class or all of the things that we look at, look at the life of an inmate in the United States. the historical. Track of, you know, how prisons sort of have evolved throughout the, you know, the United States, and looking at kind of like try to really use a lot of material of people who are actual inmates that have been written better writing. Um, but Yeah. it's a really fun class to teach. I really, really love it. It's a sad class to teach. There's a lot of really heavy, heavy topics that come up with it. but I have really wonderful students, who want to know about this and want to know more they're as curious about all of this as I am. so it's a really fun class.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I'll tell you if I was in Dayton, I would take that class. Cause it sounds really, really interesting.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. And thank you. I mean, it's, it's, it's really fun. It is. A lot of, um, one of the things that we really hit on in that class is that, you know, the historical sense of how prisons have evolved in the United States is really important to understanding where we're at right now. And so many people don't necessarily understand that timeline. And so that's one of the things that I think really drives the course but it's a really fun class. It's yeah. My day job.

Brad Shreve:

Well, sticking with that. You told me your favorite prison to visit is the Ohio State Reformatory. Okay. First of all, how does one go about visiting in a prison and what do you do there?

Meredith Doench:

That must have sounded really weird. Doesn't it?

Brad Shreve:

Yes. Like I don't picture people going and hanging out at the prisons.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, it's not a working prison at the moment. So it, it is one that, um, it used to be the, the Ohio State you know, reformatory for the whole entire state of Ohio. And I think that in 1990, I want to say 1994, somewhere around there, they closed. because they built a more modern prison. really basically in the backyard, like you can, you can look right out the window and see the new prison that's right there. the inmates actually helped to build the new prison while they were living in the reformatory. so it fell kind of into disrepair because once they moved all the inmates out of that older facility, um, it just. Crumbled. It's been bought now by a private group who is turning it into a museum. It's where the movie Shawshank redemption was filmed.

Brad Shreve:

ah,

Meredith Doench:

And yeah. so they use it for movie sets and things like that. But because the, time of inmates, like how many years they've held inmates there, I mean, they go all the way back to like the 1890s. and in some gears as even, I mean, I think there might even be some that were a little bit before. Of cases that came through there. And it's just incredibly fascinating to me to look at the arrest records and, to see what people were being brought in for early on for so long, I wanted to set, uh, a novel at this place. And so I spent a lot of time, looking at the different cells I'm looking at there's, um, Warden has his own house. That's kind of attached to the jail so his whole family lives there with him. I found that really fascinating. Um, so, but there's the historical information. that's available on inmates of what they were arrested for, is just really fascinating.

Brad Shreve:

Yeah. I generally don't recommend touristy places, but if anybody goes to San Francisco, I do recommend taking the tour of Alcatraz

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

I was really surprised how tiny those cells are. I mean, they're tiny.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah, it's amazing. Isn't it? And they put two people in those or sometimes three. Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

I think in TV movies, they'd probably make them bigger to get the cameras in there because it really doesn't capture, how tight that is

Meredith Doench:

Yep.

Brad Shreve:

now on top of teaching literature, do you get involved in genre fiction in your teaching?

Meredith Doench:

I do. Um, you know, it's hard for me not to talk about genre fiction in my teaching because I, I write it and that's what I read. I love it. I love to read it. And that doesn't mean that I don't read other things too, but, I tend to talk about it and in terms of examples and things like that, but this, this coming year, I'm teaching my first ever genre fiction class. So I'm very excited about that. There's been kind of a, um, again, like we were talking about this push pull relationship, you know, kind of like with serial killers, there's also been like this push pull relationship with genre fiction and the academy as well, too. And, I've felt that unfortunately, you know, with my writing and things like that. But I, I think that the tide is really changing and it's becoming much more accepted and, admired even in some circles. And it's been interesting to watch that change happen.

Brad Shreve:

Are you familiar with Orson Scott Card?

Meredith Doench:

I'm not, I'm sorry.

Brad Shreve:

Okay. That's okay. He's a popular Science fiction writer. So if you don't read science fiction, you may not know him, but he's, he's, he's he's very well known. unfortunately. In his writings, he has hints of racism and is very clearly a homophobe. So I don't like to promote this guy, but he and I lived in the same city in Greensboro, North Carolina at one time. And he wrote an article for the local paper. And in the article, he said, if your kids are reading comic books, if they're reading fantasy, if they're reading, scifi get off their backs. They're reading. Just, Be grateful that the reading anything,

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

I presume that you would agree with that.

Meredith Doench:

Absolutely. Yeah. I definitely do. Um, and, and part of that is too, I mean, my reading, like, you know, it was just like, as a kid, I shouldn't say a kid, like when I was a teenager, you know, I just, I just took in everything possible by Stephen King and, I kinda grew up on that, those types of writings too. And I was very, very lucky in grad school. To get, Stephen Graham Jones, who is a horror writer. but he's also an academic, to work with when I was at Texas Tech. And I was really scared about one of the projects that I put forth to him was, a version of Crossed. I mean, it wasn't Crossed in its full format, but it was a version of it. And, there was a little bit of pushback from.

Brad Shreve:

Okay.

Meredith Doench:

Some people in the department and they had some trouble finding readers for it, outside readers, things like that. partly because there were gay characters, but then partly to that, because this was genre fiction. but he was so wonderful and telling me, well, they're missing out, you know, you got to write what you got to write and just keep going. Um, he's been such a huge influence to me as something I keep thinking about a lot with it. I don't know if I would have, I don't know if my career or my writing career would have gone the way that it did without him to, to cheer me on in that way.

Brad Shreve:

yeah, I'm not going to say this is entirely true, but I did read one time that, literature. Novels are thing that everybody loves, but nobody reads. And I do think there is some truth to that sometimes.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Well, we have reached the stage of, I have a question to ask you.

Meredith Doench:

Oh,

Brad Shreve:

Yes, it's awkward questions, authors get,

Meredith Doench:

Okay.

Brad Shreve:

Are you ready for the wheel spin?

Meredith Doench:

Sure.

Brad Shreve:

Alrighty, hold still. And I'm going to spin the wheel here and we're going to see what question you get. Okay. Are you ready for your question?

Meredith Doench:

I am ready.

Brad Shreve:

Have you written anything? I might've heard of?

Meredith Doench:

Oh, That's an awesome one. And my answer is always, no, I don't think so. I actually seriously doubt I've written anything you heard of. That's a really good one,

Brad Shreve:

That's just rude.

Meredith Doench:

it really is. Yep.

Brad Shreve:

Before I let you go, I want to ask you something about, teaching literature and something I've always been curious about, because stories can be so subjective, I had a problem with metaphors. teachers would talk about a metaphor and I'm like, how do you know? That's what they meant? You know?

Meredith Doench:

Yeah,

Brad Shreve:

Yeah, the old adage, sometimes an orange is just an orange

Meredith Doench:

Yeah.

Brad Shreve:

based on that, I'm curious. How do you grade something that so subjective? What are you looking for?

Meredith Doench:

Well, it's a little bit different. Um, for? I mean, I also teach creative writing. and so mostly with creative writing, there's a skill set that we're looking for. If the writer improves with those skills over the course of time, um, like this semester and with literature, it's, you know, I kind of, we have these rubrics that we grade with now, which I don't know if that was something that, was used when you were in school or not. It wasn't when I was, and I remember being really confused about what, particularly the professor. Yeah. teacher was looking for. And I think that these rubrics have really helped to clear things up because the rubrics were given at least the way that I do it. The rubrics are given at the same exact time that the assignment is given. And so it's spelled out exactly what we're looking at, what I'm looking for. And, and those are the things that we're going to work on. So the next couple of weeks I was we're reading these books and, you know, working on your paper. and I think that that helps a lot too. Alleviate some of that questioning of, I don't know what you're looking for. And so I don't know where to focus. Right. It gives somebody, it gives a student a place to focus and it also helps me a lot too, too, like focusing for me and then working on different things for different assignments. And trying to keep it as, subjective as possible. It's really helpful. I, feel like I'm really a very lucky person to have the job that I have because I get to talk about writing all day long and ways of making, writing clearer, stronger, and also getting to talk about books all day, too. I mean, it's really fantastic. and then to be able to write them, you know, it's, it's hard to do both and I do really struggle with. during the school year, I have a really hard time writing. and usually I use that for editing and then use the summers for production of material that I can then edit during the school year. But I have definitely been blessed with a job that I love, so,

Brad Shreve:

That's awesome. A lot of people strive for that.

Meredith Doench:

Yeah. Thank you.

Brad Shreve:

Well, I, I have one more question before I let you go. I want you to get out your crystal ball.

Meredith Doench:

Okay.

Brad Shreve:

What is your view of the future of Queer crime fiction? How do you see it?

Meredith Doench:

Wow. I see it getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It's so awesome right now to be a queer crime writer, because I actually was thinking about this yesterday. it? feels like there's this wave of voices, you know, that are coming through right now. And, Just this wave of them. It's almost like this cacophony that is coming and it's, it's so exciting to be a part of that. I think it's just going to get bigger and bigger, you know? I don't know. What do you think?

Brad Shreve:

I agree with you. I hope we're both. Right.

Meredith Doench:

yeah.

Brad Shreve:

Well, my guest today has been Meredith Doench, and we have been talking about Dead Eye, which is her third novel in the Luce Hansen thrillers. And I goes, without saying, there will be links in the show now. So head over there and thank you very much, Meredith, it's been a pleasure to have you on.

Meredith Doench:

Thank you so much, Brad.