True Crime Gregg Olsen

Dec. 12, 2020

Q&A

Gregg Olsen

Gregg Olsen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of true crime and thrillers. A Seattle native, he lives in Olalla, Washington with his wife, twin daughters, three chickens, cocker spaniel, and mini dachshund.

Q. You write across a number of genres, including mystery, true crime, thrillers, and more. What in your writing can you transport across genre lines?

Gregg: So much of what I write is connected. I find my experience with victims, cops, and perpetrators, weaving their way into my novels. People say you should write what you know. I see that. I have never been in prison, but I have visited many. I haven’t been a victim of violent crime, but I have cried with many who have. I think those experiences give my fiction a dose of realism.

 

Q. Where does the difficulty come in?

Gregg: There real challenge in true crime is that the story is what it is. People say they hate the ending or didn’t like the characters or whatever. The reality is that as a writer of nonfiction, I understand that the story needs to reflect truth. Sometimes truth is disappointing.

 

Q. In researching true crime do you ever shy away from the material?

Gregg: No. Sometimes I only glance at a crime scene photo because it seems invasive to look long and hard. Just a blink. Not always, but sometimes. In If You Tell, my latest true crime release, I wrote about terrible abuse at the hands of a woman named Michelle Knotek. Some people felt that it was too much. That it was too tough to read. I’m sorry they feel that way, but honestly, the book was written because the case had been brushed aside in a plea deal. I included the facts. The facts are ugly. But it is what happened. To gloss over Shelly’s crimes, is a disservice to her daughters and the others she victimized.

 

Q. How do you handle that, and handle it for the reader?

Gregg: I lay it out there. I try not to sensationalize. I let the content speak for itself. Readers of true crime expect things will be uncomfortable to read. That comes with the genre.

 

Q. How does the small town of Olalla, Washington—where you live—impact your writing?

Gregg: Right now, I’m looking out at the gray water, gray sky. Gloomy is good for this kind of writing. I love writing about the Pacific Northwest and feel so lucky to live in a small community where we can help each other.

 

Q. What are you working on now?

Gregg: I have a new thriller coming out in May called The Hive. Right now, I’m working on a new true crime set in Spokane. More about that later.

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