Interview with Michael Lister, author of Blood Work
30 Nov 2016
What can you tell us about your new release, Blood Work?
Blood Work is a mystery novel that combines elements of true crime with fiction. Just this past year, one of Ted Bundy’s former defense attorneys, John Henry Browne, wrote that Bundy had confessed to having killed over one hundred people. Not just the thirty-five or so often attributed to him. I have no idea what the actual number is, but I do believe it’s many more than is known.
And that’s where the true crime facts of Ted Bundy’s case merge with the mystery fiction of Blood Work.
I really enjoy reading and studying true crime and try to incorporate this into my fiction. It’s something I’ve done previously with Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders in Innocent Blood and Blood Cries. And based on the response, I really think my readers like it too.
I find an intersection between reality and fantasy, fact and fiction. I keep everything true and accurate about the real-life cases—all the details about Bundy or Williams, but then find what I believe to be the perfect place for the two to merge in a way that I hope is both credible and thrilling.
I’ve grown up in the shadow of the atrocities Ted Bundy committed in Florida. I was born in Tallahassee to parents attending Florida State University just 10 years before the nightmare Ted Bundy brought on the Chai Omega sorority house, and I’ve always been fascinated by this most notorious of American serial killers.
Before I became a full-time novelist some sixteen years ago, while I was still a full-time prison chaplain with the Florida Department of Corrections, I visited the death chamber and electric chair where Ted Bundy was executed. Standing there where he died, actually touching the instrument of his death, was a surreal experience for me. One that I won’t ever forget. Even back then, as I stood just a few feet away from the Gainesville Ripper, Danny Rolling, and felt the collective, oppressive darkness of death row, I knew one day Ted Bundy would make an appearance in my novels. I’ve alluded to him in at least four previous books, but Blood Work is the first in which he plays a prominent role.
What’s the last book you read?
Michael Connelly’s “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” It’s great!
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
Limiting myself to living writers: Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, and Dennis Lehane.
Who is your favorite fictional character from literature?
I have too many to choose from, but two that are way up there are Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux.
If you could invent anything, what would it be?
A way to infuse humans with empathy. Of course, it’s already been invented it’s called the novel. Now I just need to invent a way to get more people to read.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Find your gift, develop it, then share it with others to make the world a better place.
What scene in Blood Work was your favorite to write?
Blood Work is very much a buddy cop book with a father and son serving as the buddies. The scenes between John Jordan and his father, Jack Jordan, are among my favorites in the novel—tied with the scenes showing the violent crime visits and the people it touches.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” Rumi
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
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