Q&A with crime writer, Fabien Richard

Crime author, Fabien Richard
I was recently introduced to an exciting French author who is more than a little drawn to Ted Bundy, much like yours truly. Fabien Richard has already published a book in French called “Lady Killer” about Ted from Bundy’s college years until his execution in 1989. Shortly after our first meeting, I was invited to collaborate on a book about our favorite subject titled, “Ted Bundy: Memories of the Beast.” It promises various tales from survivors, the families of victims, and members of law enforcement, and legal professionals who were affected by Ted’s actions over the years. The forthcoming book will be published in both English and French in 2021. I recently had the chance to interview Mr. Richard about his book and what drew him into the malestrom that is Bundy. 

What drew you to Bundy and true crime?

My relationship with Ted Bundy was not actually my first “relationship” with a serial killer. When I was 12 years old, while at the Montreal airport, a cousin of mine bought a book on Jeffrey Dahmer called “The Monster of Milwaukee.” Though I was young, I had been watching horror films in secret for a few years and I understood that the content I was reading was violent including assault, rape, beheading, necrophilia, cannibalism. By reading that book, I had just set foot in a world that would intrigue me ever since. I wondered if there were more monsters like this on our good old planet Earth! I later discovered serial killers of cinema: Hannibal Lecter, John Doe, Jigsaw, Buffalo Bill, Lé Désosseur, and Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.

When I was between 15 and 20 years old, I discovered the stories of the most successful serial killers including Harold Shipman, Gary Ridgway, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Kemper, David Berkowitz, Paul John Knowles, and of course, Ted Bundy.

In 2004, I met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and converted because I no longer wanted to be part of the Catholic church and its protection of so many pedophiles. Without realizing it, I had just gotten on step closer to Ted Bundy in my conversion, meaning I became one of his “brothers” in religion. (Author’s note: Bundy joined the Mormon church in 1975.) One can only wonder if Bundy really respected God when considering the horrors he committed.

For the next eleven years, I traveled throughout the United States. I eventually came across a book in English which really started my interest in the Bundy case. The book was “The Stranger Beside Me” by Ann Rule. My interest in Ted Bundy didn’t stop at this point.

Bundy survivor, Kathy Kleiner

In 2005 and 2006, I went to places where he murdered women like Salt Lake City, Utah, Washington state, Aspen and Grand Junction, Colorado. From there, I spent five years researching Bundy. I had exchanges with survivors of Bundy including Kathy Kleiner, with former police officers like Robert Keppel and Don Patchen, and with psychologists like Al Carlisle. I met other magnificent people, incredible helpers like Kevin Sullivan, journalists like John Sandifer, ex-policeman like Bob Braudis and attorneys like Bob Dekle. I wanted to get closer and closer to the monster, the real-life “lady killer.”

That is how my book, “Lady Killer” was born. It is the cross between a novel, a play, and a diary of life written in the style of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Since the book’s release in February, it has been very successful. In 2021, the book will be adapted on stage in France, Europe, and the United States.

Why Bundy?

You can’t always explain why a character intrigues you or why they create in you the will to analyze and study them. Regarding the Bundy case, since my adolescence, I have been trying to better understand the phenomenon of serial killers. I have never understood why men have a trigger in them that leads them to kill innocent women. Ted Bundy had this kind of trigger, which makes him more interesting to me. I have the desire to better understand him, to better understand his pathology.

A few years ago, I supported the dad of a victim of a violent crime in France, Jacky Kulik, father of Elodie Kulik, brutally murdered in 2002. This fight led me to want to find the answers to the riddles. From the Bundy dossier, I wanted to continue to want to understand the psyche of a murderer whose actions were programmed and who planned the murders in advance as a goal he sought to achieve. 

Why was it important to write a book about Ted Bundy?

I wanted to write a book in French because there were few references on the subject in France. Apart from the excellent work of my friend Nicolas Castelaux (also my editor) in “Ted Bundy: L’Ange de la décomposition” (“Ted Bundy: The Angel of Decay”), there was a literary void.

French-speaking authors too often deal with the same subjects and do not study the subject in depth. I first wanted to pay tribute to the victims of Ted Bundy, this was my first intention. Everyone has already told the basic Ted Bundy story. I wanted to go deeper into the memories of the living victims, into the confidences that Elizabeth Kloepfer made at the time, into the stories of Larry Anderson who lived near Ted Bundy. My book then became like a confession, closer to reality than anything that had been produced in French until then.

Did anything surprise you while you were writing/researching it?

Since I started my work on Ted Bundy and his criminal journey, I have noticed several very surprising things:

– Ted Bundy still interests the general public, including specialists, and everyone seeks to understand this “character” who stepped straight out of a horror film;

– there are an impressive number of groups that are studying the Bundy file, looking to find answers, many groups are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram;

– there are groups of fans, lovers of Ted Bundy, which still scares me so much. I can not understand this fascination for such a despicable person.

What topic does your book cover?

It covers the whole story of Ted Bundy, from his meeting with Elizabeth Kloepfer in 1969, until his execution in 1989. Through 236 pages, I come back to the major facts of the history of the criminal, but with confessions that never had been written this way. The confessions of Rhonda Stapley, Kathy Kleiner, and Larry Anderson arose from private conversations that we had together, and from many emails and live discussions. I want to note that some people doubt that Rhonda Stapley was a victim of Ted Bundy. I am not here to judge the veracity of her facts, but I can tell you she confided in me elements and words that cannot be invented. I want to stand up for the fact that all of the people who opened up to me were sincere and I will always stand up for them as victims and share their personal stories about Ted Bundy. I am neither a judge, nor a lawyer, nor God to judge men, I simply wanted to transcribe the very evil they carry deep down in their souls.

What was your writing process like?

I always write very intuitively. In the case of my work on Ted Bundy it started in 2005 when I visited the United States on a trip to the Bundy crime scenes in some cities in Utah and Colorado. From there, I read everything or watched what might exist in English and French on the subject. This iincluded many books, scientific studies, newspaper articles, and television reports. From notes on thousands after hours of work, I created the outline of my book and how I wanted to sequence my work. I wanted to come back to certain interrogations which, for me, were essential and too often forgotten.

When I write, things come naturally, words flow together without having to think too much. Very often I feel a kind of connection with the facts, with the victims, and with the situations. It sometimes leads me to write dozens of pages in a few hours, as if the words “burn my hands,” and as if I absolutely have to get the message out of my mind. 

What is something interesting about Bundy that you like sharing?

I want everyone to understand the Ted Bundy phenomenon in all of its complexity. Too many people look at things superficially, too many people look at things through their prism, without really opening their eyes. If I can help as many people as possible to truly see Ted Bundy so they will never make him a star or a modern day hero, it will be worth it. 

How important is to showcase the stories of his victims and survivors?

Not paying homage to the victims would be the biggest mistake. Behind each attack or each murder there is a victim. It is important that we pay tribute to those who died. The surviving victims are the only witnesses to the real version of the killer. No one will ever be able to tell you better about the violence of the murderer, to tell you about his attitude or his gaze, his way of moving, his method of attack, or his scent.

How did you locate my blog about Bundy?

One day I was doing some research on Bundy, I was reading articles like I do every day, and I came across your amazing site. I read all the articles and I was like, “Finally, someone who really works hard on subjects about Ted Bundy, someone who gives a real analysis, and someone who isn’t like all those researchers who think they are specialists.” I must thank you for your work and your involvement. You gave me hope that we can study Bundy with precision and sincerity.

What do you want to share about our upcoming book, Ted Bundy: Memories of the Beast?

I would like people to discover a new side of Ted Bundy through unpublished testimonies, sincere confessions, and real words about real evil. Sometimes it’s hard to find out new things about Ted Bundy because we don’t care enough about the people around him. Bundy becomes the hero, but this is a mistake. The heroes in this story are the people around him including the victims, the police, and the families of the victims. Finally, I feel the true hero, those found in everyday life, is much more essential than the main character of the story. Our collaborative work on the book, “Ted Bundy, Memories Of The Beast,” will give voice to the forgotten people, those who are wounded, because they are the personification of a “hero” in this world.

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