The spark for my novel The Killing of Mindi Quintana was the true-life story of convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott. Abbot became a cultural icon and literary shooting star when his book of prison letters, In the Belly of the Beast, was published in 1981.
One irony of the Abbott case is that this evil man’s letters, irrationally justifying his lifetime of violent crime, resulted in public sympathy, literary acclaim, and even his parole. Another irony, tragic, is that within six weeks of his release Abbott killed again, the night before a laudatory review of his book. A final irony is that Richard Adan, the 22 year-old waiter Abbott stabbed in the heart for refusing him use of an employees-only restroom, was pursuing his dream of becoming a writer himself.
We tend to invest our violent criminals with special qualities—they’re poets, they’re rebels, they have greater souls, or they bravely act in the face of society’s most sacred rules—our antiheros. Only, in truth, they are almost never heroes of any sort, and kill because they are less not more. The jailhouse literary sensation and our other celebrity killers, bask in the limelight of their little lives turned big through evil acts, and blossom and flourish in our misconceptions of them.
The Killing of Mindi Quintana deals with the injustice of fame and acclaim through murder. It takes issue with our attribution to our violent criminals of special talents, bravery, charisma and charm. In my novel, a frustrated department store clerk kills and becomes the object of public fascination. He pens the book about his victim everybody wants, and drags her through the mud. A new celebrity murderer takes the stage. A comeuppance is in order.
-By Jeffrey A. Cohen, author of The Killing of Mindi Quintana (to be published April 25, 2010)
Follow the book tour for The Killing of Mindi Quintana.
My review of The Killing of Mindi Quintana is here.
I would like to thank Jeffrey A. Cohen and TLC Book Tours for making this guest author post possible.