8 Real Crimes That Inspired Works of Fiction

The story behind classic crime novels (via Stylist)

Did you know Emma Donoghue’s Room was based on the Fritzl case? Here are the stories behind the world’s most popular books.

1. THE TELLTALE HEART by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

In 1830, a brutal crime inspired author Edgar Allan Poe. The murder of Captain White, a retired shipmaster, rocked the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. In the dead of night, a hitman – hired by White’s nephews who were set to inherit his wealth – stabbed 82-year-old White to death. It provided inspiration for Poe’s gothic short story in which an anonymous protagonist stows his murder victim (thought to be his father) beneath the floorboards but can still hear the corpse’s beating heart, a sign of his guilty conscience.

2. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie (1934)

Snowstorms and midnight murders may have been embellishment, but Christie’s famous novel has its grounding in real-life crime. In the book, the murder of a three-year-old girl by fugitive Cassetti is based on the actual 1932 kidnap and murder of the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. A maid employed by Mrs Lindbergh’s parents was suspected and after being harshly interrogated by police, committed suicide. But ex-convict Bruno Hauptmann was eventually sentenced to death for the murder.

3. PSYCHO by Robert Bloch (1959)

Both Thomas Harris’ The Silence Of The Lambs (1988) and Bloch’sPsycho were inspired by the real-life crime of Ed Gein – arrested in 1957 for the murders of two women in Wisconsin. A police search of his home uncovered furniture and clothing made of skin and female body parts. He had been raiding graveyards to cultivate parts for a ‘woman suit’ which psychologists believed he planned to wear while pretending to be his dead mother. Inspired by this, Bloch felt compelled to write his novel about motel owner Norman Bates, who murders his mother and takes on her personality.

4. THE GODFATHER by Mario Puzo (1969)

While Puzo found the main inspiration for his gangster tale in the ‘Five Families’ Mafia organisation of New York, the novel also includes many allusions to other real-life mobsters. Johnny Fontane is based on Frank Sinatra and Moe Greene on gangster Bugsy Siegel. Don Corleone, however, is said to be inspired by Puzo’s mother, an illiterate Neapolitan matriarch who raised Puzo and his siblings in New York’s slums. “When the Godfather opened his mouth, I heard the voice of my mother,” said Puzo. “She was a wonderful woman, but a ruthless person.”

5. THE BLACK DAHLIA by James Ellroy (1987)

Ellroy’s classic novel is based on one of Hollywood’s most infamous unsolved crimes, a case he became obsessed with as his own mother was murdered. In 1947, waitress Elizabeth Short’s body was found mutilated and dumped in a car park in LA. Newspapers soon sensationalised the case; she was nicknamed “Black Dahlia” (because she always wore black) and portrayed as an “adventuress” who “prowled Hollywood Boulevard”. This fictional novel explores how the lives of two detectives working on the case are destroyed by the investigation.

6. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver (2003)

In 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado, It was in the weeks following that Lionel Shriver decided to write Kevin. In fact, Kevin’s fictional murder spree supposedly takes place 12 days before the Columbine shootings, and Shriver even references the event in the book, with Kevin, who opens fire at his fellow pupils, repeatedly calling Harris and Klebold “weenies” and “morons” and grumbling from his prison cell that “any idiot can fire a shotgun”.

7. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson (2008)

Long before Larsson wrote his novels, a gruesome crime shook Sweden. In 1984, the remains of prostitute Catrine da Costa were found in a bin bag. Three weeks later, another bag of her body parts was found less than a mile away. The case piqued the interest of then-journalist Larsson, a life-long opponent of violence against women. In fact, the novel’s Swedish title was Men Who Hate Women. Two men were charged with murder, but were later acquitted due to lack of evidence.

8. ROOM by Emma Donoghue (2010)

The acclaimed author conceived the award-winning Room after reading about the Josef Fritzl case. In 2008, the world was appalled when Elisabeth Fritzl, 42, told police she had been held captive by her father for 24 years in a dungeon below their home in Austria. Fritzl had assaulted and raped her several times and as a result she had given birth to seven children by him – among them was five-year-old Felix, who became the inspiration for Donoghue’s Jack, who is held captive along with his mother in Room.

Posted: 16 April 2012

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C.S. Lewis - On Writing

Writing advice from C.S. Lewis
  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Find out more about C.S. Lewis, born 29 November 1898, died 22 November 1963

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

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Literary Birthday - 13 April - Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty was born 13 April 1909, and died 23 July 2001

10 Quotes

  1. A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.
  2. Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.
  3. Human life is fiction’s only theme.
  4. Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.
  5. I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.
  6. It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. 
  7. It doesn t matter if it takes a long time getting there; the point is to have a destination.
  8. Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer’s own life.
  9. Gardening is akin to writing stories. No experience could have taught me more about grief or flowers, about achieving survival by going, your fingers in the ground, the limit of physical exhaustion.
  10. If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.

Welty was an American author of short stories and novels about the American South. Her novel The Optimist’s Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973.

Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

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16 Things Calvin and Hobbes Said Better Than Anyone Else

On life’s constant little limitations

Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

On expectations

Calvin: Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria!

On why we are scared of the dark

Calvin: I think night time is dark so you can imagine your fears with less distraction.

On the unspoken truth behind the education system

Calvin: As you can see, I have memorized this utterly useless piece of information long enough to pass a test question. I now intend to forget it forever. You’ve taught me nothing except how to cynically manipulate the system. Congratulations.

On the cruel reality of commercial art

Hobbes: Van Gogh would’ve sold more than one painting if he’d put tigers in them.

On the tragedy of hipsters

Calvin: The world bores you when you’re cool.

On the tears of a clown

Calvin: Isn’t it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humour? When you think about it, it’s weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it’s funny. Don’t you think it’s odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?

Hobbes: I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot of life.

Calvin: (after a long pause) I can’t tell if that’s funny or really scary.

On the falling of sparrows (or providence’s lack of a timetable)

Calvin: Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.

On why winter is the cruellest of seasons

Calvin: Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.

On the gaping hole in contemporary art’s soul

Calvin: People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.

On playing Frankenstein with words

Calvin: Verbing weirds language.

On realising God is more Woody Allen than Michael Bay

Calvin: They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines.

Hobbes: Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell if we’re living in a tragedy or a farce.

Calvin: We need more special effects and dance numbers.

On why ET is real

Calvin: Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

On looking yourself in the mirror

Hobbes: So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?

On the future

Calvin: Trick or treat!

Adult: Where’s your costume? What are you supposed to be?

Calvin: I’m yet another resource-consuming kid in an overpopulated planet, raised to an alarming extent by Madison Avenue and Hollywood, poised with my cynical and alienated peers to take over the world when you’re old and weak. Am I scary, or what?

On the truth

Calvin: It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring! 

Source: Book Riot 

Source for Image

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