My name is Gary C. King, and I’m a true crime author. Over the years, people have often asked me how I became a writer, why I became a writer, and how I happened to land in the genre of true crime. The answers to the first and third questions are simply that it was an accident, and the answer to the second question was simply that I did not want to work for someone else for a living, and it took me 27 years to arrive at a solution to that dilemma. I’ll elaborate a bit.
Unlike Ann Rule, I don’t have a background in law enforcement, i.e., I didn’t walk a beat in Seattle for a time before deciding to begin writing. The only thing that comes close to a background in law enforcement for me is that one of my brothers, just out of college, decided he wanted to be a cop. His career as a police officer, however, was short-lived. After a few months of being on the force, he responded to a dead body call. When he arrived with his partner, they found a nude, decomposing female lying face down on the floor. When the coroner’s office team
arrived and attempted to lift the body, the woman’s breasts—stuck to the floor from bodily fluids that had leaked out—pulled loose from her body. It wasn’t long before my brother left the force and decided to become a lawyer, but his description of his experience that day always remained with me and was, perhaps, one of the first such incidents I’d heard about and it never left. I was about 14 at the time.
Having been an avid reader during adolescence, I’d read all the James Bond books that Ian Fleming had published before I was 16, along with numerous Agatha Christie mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems, Helen MacInnes novels, and many other wonderful authors too numerous to mention here. I had decided early on that I wanted to be a writer, but I never brought the dream to fruition for nearly another decade.
It wasn’t until I was 25 that a friend of mine at the time, who also held aspirations to become a writer, suggested the detective magazines to me. He had written to the editors at True Detective, obtained a sample copy of the magazine and their writer guidelines, but quickly decided it wasn’t for him. Aware of my love for fictional mysteries, he passed the materials along to me and I quickly decided, “I can do this!” Although the stories that True Detective and its affiliated magazines published were true and not fiction, it seemed like a good fit at the time.
It took me six weeks to research and write my first story. There was a case about two young girls in Ashland, Oregon who had been brutally murdered by a man named Manuel Cortez. Partly because I couldn’t fathom how or why someone could do such a thing, I decided to tackle the case and write the story. When it was finished, I sent it in to True Detective “over the transom,” so-to-speak, without querying the editors first, and fortunately for me it turned out that no one else had written about the case to them. They loved the story, and two weeks later I received a letter stating as much, along with a check for $250 and a stack of their standard query forms. They wanted more from me, and the rest, of course, is history. They titled that first story, “Tortured by the Sadist in the Press Box!” Some 400 stories and 15 years later, True Detective, after more than 70 years in business, ceased publication. By then, thankfully, I had transitioned into book writing and had been published by Penguin USA (and later other of the “Big 6” publishers, including St. Martin’s Press), and therefore wasn’t out of business, too.
However, writing for “Big 6” publishers was not sufficient enough to make a decent living for me and my family. I could never reach the lofty heights of, say, James Patterson or Dan Brown, though that would have been nice. As a result, I held numerous J-O-Bs over the years, including working for the federal government. Nothing I did with regard to a J-O-B was satisfying, so I kept writing, usually at night and on weekends. In retrospect I don’t know how I did it, working like a dog day and night, but I guess I did it because I knew I had to. During my last 10 years in the workforce I was employed as the executive assistant to the vice president of a medium-sized West Coast landscape company. That J-O-B paid well, and I halfway enjoyed the work as I was required to do a lot of the company’s written materials. It wasn’t until I was laid off due to the company’s financial struggle to survive in an ever-weakening economy that I realized I was in trouble. I had to do something, and fast. Writing came to the forefront, again.
Since I own the electronic rights to several of my earliest books, I decided I’d publish them myself. Within no time at all, I knew that becoming an “Indie” author was the answer. The books have consistently sold well, and I knew that this was the best answer I could come up with on short notice after being permanently laid off—and encountering health issues that made meeting deadlines impossible.
So far, I couldn’t be happier as an indie. I’ve taken steps that have improved my health issues (and, admittedly, that has been a tough nut to crack), and I’m now doing what I had so often dreamed of doing when I was young man. In retrospect, I wish it could have all happened sooner.
That is my story in a nutshell. I hope you have enjoyed it, and I hope that it provides a touch of inspiration for those attracted to the profession of writing. If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, please consider visiting my website: http://www.garycking.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Gary.C.King and on Twitter (I’m somewhat of a Twitter fanatic, a “tweeting” fool, I’ve been told), http://www.twitter.com/Gary_C_King.