Saturday, October 06, 2007

Criminologist R. Barri Flowers

Hey everyone, today we’re excited to have a GREAT special guest blogger, author and criminologist R. Barri Flowers. He’s published multiple books in the mystery and romance genres as well as bestselling true crime books. And he’s agreed to let the Killer Fiction readers pick his brain today, so I hope you all came loaded with lots of questions. Mr. Flowers, take it away…

Hello, all. My name's R. Barri Flowers, author of criminology books, true crime, and mystery novels (with some romance fiction under a pseudonym for good measure).

How nice of Gemma and the other gals at Killer Fiction to invite on as a guest blogger.

With the lion's share of my writings in the criminology field, I'm what's known as a literary criminologist. That is, I am one of those who writes the criminal justice and criminology textbooks used in colleges and universities by professors and students alike.

I take pride in making a contribution to higher education and hope that through my books and articles, graduates in the criminal justice/criminology/criminal law fields come out with more relevant knowledge than when they went in.

So what goes into criminology writing, you might ask? Well, lots of research, verification, studies, surveys, tables, graphs, notes, references, and information on crime, criminals, and criminal justice or lack thereof.

The fundamental questions in the study of criminality consist of: why are crimes committed, who commits them, what are the precursors, how are crimes solved, is their differential enforcement of the law, and can criminals really be rehabilitated?

With twenty-five such books covering the range of criminal behavior, I have written about virtually every type of popular perpetrator in crime fiction, including serial killers, psycho killers, female killers, mass killers, domestic-related killers, team killers, juvenile killers, terrorists, rapists, molesters, sadists, property offenders, drug-related criminals, and more.

Some general conclusions are as follows:

* Firearms are involved in two-thirds of the homicides in the U.S.

* Drug use is pervasive in our society and often a factor in the commission of other crimes, such as murder and sexual assaults.

* Crime is largely intraracial and not interracial in this country.

* Identity theft and cybercrime are two of the fastest growing crimes in the country.

* Two-thirds of all rapes and three-quarters of sexual assaults are committed by an intimate, acquaintance, or family member of victim.

* Males, not too surprisingly, constitute the higher percentage of violent, sexual, property, and drug offenders.

* When it comes to serial killers, a common theme in thrillers and romantic suspense, men rule the roost. However, more women have been serial killers throughout our history than one might imagine, such as black widows who kill their mates for financial gain.

* Females are slowly making inroads into traditionally male-dominated crimes, including homicide and property offenses.

* Men are predominantly the aggressors in domestic violence and women the passive victims. However, the actual incidence of verbal and physical abuse in relationships is more evenly divided by gender.

* Though we hear most often about men being arrested for child molestation, women may actually be just as involved in child sexual abuse but are more easily able to mask due to traditional female sex roles in society, such as child rearing and homemaker.

* Teens and young adults have the highest rate of involvement in violent crime.

* The laws are not always applied equally when it comes to arrests, conviction, and incarceration, often varying by offense, gender, race, ethnicity, and/or location.

My other main area of focus as a criminologist is on true crime. The genre was popularized by Truman Capote with his book, IN COLD BLOOD.

Though true crime books are nonfiction, they are separated from typical factual books by employing fiction techniques in combining a police procedural with mystery and suspense.

I wrote a bestselling true crime book, THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS (St. Martin's Press, 1996). It chronicles the sexual homicides of husband-wife serial killers, Gerald and Charlene Gallego.

The book is a basis of an upcoming episode of the popular Dateline like Canadian investigative crime TV series, Crime Stories, shown on A&E's Biography Channel.

Writing true crime differs from criminology books and a decidedly academic approach in that it involves reading transcripts, interviewing witnesses, law enforcement, and others in piecing together the time line of the crime, investigation, evidence gathering, apprehending the suspect, the trial, and outcome.

It certainly keeps me on my toes moving between these two branches of writing on criminality. Having a basic understanding of the dynamics of criminal behavior certainly helps the cause in doing true crime books.

Similarly, my expertise as a criminologist laid the perfect groundwork for a foray into crime fiction, with several novels, including the most recent, STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006) and JUSTICE SERVED (Dorchester, 2005).

I enjoy the creative side of writing mystery fiction and using one's imagination and creative juices to blend with strong characterization and plotting in building to a dramatic climax.

Inspired by such crime novelists as James Patterson and John Grisham, along with male romance writers Robert Waller and Nicholas Sparks, I have also tried my hand at writing love stories.

Under the pseudonym, Devon Vaughn Archer, I have written four romance novels. The latest, CHRISTMAS HEAT (Kimani Romance, 2007), will be published in December by a Harlequin imprint.

Overall, I remain a criminology and true crime writer, first and foremost and am happy to lend my talents to the study of crime and criminals; along with trying to get a handle on how we can best deal with criminality in American society.

Feel free to ask me whatever suits your fancy and I will try my best to answer.

And visit my web site and pages on CrimeSpace and MySpace:


R. Barri Flowers


Anonymous said...

Hi, Barri!

What a coup for Killer Fiction to have you as the guest blogger. It looks like you've written it all -- romances, thrillers and true crime. Here's my question:

What Must Have resource would you recommend for someone writing romance-mysteries, so we can get the crime procedure/protocol correct? Is there even such a thing?



Christie Craig said...

Hi Barri,

Thank you for joining us at Killer Fiction.

I have a question for you. When you have escaped convicts from prison, who (what local authorities) all gets involved? Does this vary from state to state?

Estella said...

I don't have a question, but enjoyed reading the statistics you posted.

catslady said...

Lots of information in your post and I found it fascinating. For a new to me author, which one of your books would you think a new reader should pick to start with? and are any of your books series (such as a reoccuring detective, etc.) or stand alone? Thanks

Lucy said...

Like Estella, I don't have a question but enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Barri,
I've read your crime novels and your non-fiction, but I didn't realize you were also Devon Vaughn Archer. I'll have to try those too. I'm printing out your blog. Such good information for those of us trying to get it right in our mysteries.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Faye and everyone.

I understand that there were some technical difficulties on site, preventing me from getting in till now.

As for a must have resource, one that comes to mind is Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Howdunit). It is published by Writers Digest Books and is jam packed with helpful info for romantic suspense writers on police processes, investigative techniques, etc.

Another great reference for those writing mysteries involving forensics is Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers, published by St. Martin's Minotaur.

Aside from these sources, for those of you who are simply seeking ideas for killers and motives, I would recommend my own nonfiction book, Murders In The United States: Crimes, Killers And Victims Of The Twentieth Century. Now in paperback, it chronicles true tales of some of histories worse or most unusual killers--including women and couples.

Hope these help.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Christie:

When someone escapes from prison, you have just about all law enforcement involved in trying to recapture--including correctional authorities, police, FBI, and U.S. Marshals.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Catslady:

For mystery lovers, I would recommend you start out with STATE'S EVIDENCE (Dorchester, 2006). It is a legal thriller as well as police procedural with a healthy dose of romance and suspense.

If you favor a heartwarming, nostalgic romance, you should definitely try CHRISTMAS HEAT (Kimani Romance, December 2007).

A good sampling of my fiction can be found in the Amazon Shorts program, where new short stories include the mystery, "Gone But Not Forgotten" and romance, "Doing the Right Thing."

Happy reading!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Lorena:

Glad you could drop by.

I believe that you have it right in your mysteries, friend. :>))

I love faith-based mysteries and you write them better than most.

I have enjoyed this blogging and am happy to impart a bit of knowledge and info.



Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks for coming to chat with us Barri. Sorry again about the server troubles. Ugh, wouldn’t you know it would happen on our special guest day. *thunking forehead*
I’ll definitely be picking up one of your books when I start in on my next mystery. I’m always looking for killer inspiration. ;)


ReadingIsSoMuchFun said...

Hello Barri,

I am glad to learn about a new to me author. It's a pleasure to have you hear and learn more about you. After this comment I make I am going right over to check out your website.

I enjoyed your post alot of great information I enjoyed reading this post.

Right now I don't have a question. I am sure I will once I check out your website :)


Christie's *NEW* Partner In Crime HeeeHeee Christie will know why I posted this part *G*

Nathalie said...


it is the first time thta I hear a criminologist writes mystery romances... it seems a bit of a paradox! But then you also write non-fiction.

Thanx for the suggestions listed above.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Barri,

Thanks so much for answering all our questions.

Crime Scene Christie
(waving at my partner in crime)

Anonymous said...

Hello, all:

How nice to have spent some time with you ladies. Had fun.

Although I am a literary criminologist, I've always been a true romantic at heart--loving such classic films as Casablanca, My Fair Lady, an Affair to Remember, and Roman Holiday.

I am also a big fan of film noir such as Laura, Double Indemnity, Notorious, and the Maltese Falcon; as well as great noir fiction, including those hard-boiled novels authored by Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, and Mickey Spillane.

These early influences helped shape my interest in crime fiction as well as romance and romantic suspense novels.



Bethany True said...

Thank you thank you thank you for joining us!

Lily said...

That was a very nice post... Thanx!

ChristyJan said...

Thank you for the fascinating and informative post.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys. I wanted to thank Barri for mentioning my book, Police Procedure and Investigation, A Guide For Writers.

Also, please feel free to contact me with your police/CSI questions.

Unknown said...

شركتنا من المتميزون في اعمال الاصلاح بدون هدم او تكسير من خلال شركة ركن البيت التي تقدم الكثير والكثير في عمل اللازم وتصحيح الاخطاء التي تسببها تسريبات المياه فنحن مثلا

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بجدة تقدم خدمة لعمل الاصلاح بدون اي خراب ونقدم النصيحة للعملاء بالابتعاد عن الاعمال التي تؤدي الي هذا الخراب فتعاملك مع شركة كشف تسربات بجدة لديها الخبرة الكافية تساعدك في الحفاظ علي منزلك كما اننا نتمكن في اننا سوف نرتقي بخدمة لاننا نقوم بالعمل السليم لها كما يوجد لدينا خدمات العوازل التي تمنع التسريبات من الاسقف لكم والحوائط والخزانات من خلال شركة تسمي الاولي في مجالها لذلك نحن نقدم شركة عزل خزانات بالرياض التي تعتبر في عل الخزانات الارضية من الداخل بواسطة مواد متميزة كما نقدم لكم شركة عزل اسطح بالرياض لعمل العوازل التي تمنع جميع التسريبات في الاسقف