I grew up in a literary and musical world, with shelves of books and records lining many walls of our home.
When I was young, I had this vague notion that I wanted to be famous someday. But because I was a shy, introspective person who liked to fly under the radar, that later morphed more into a desire to do something with my life that was worthy of admiration and respect.
I took piano lessons for seven years, starting at age seven, but didn’t enjoy playing—nor did I really practice enough to get good—until the lessons stopped.
Writing is rewriting, just like practicing the piano is required to play better and faster. And even though I’ve been a professional writer for most of my life, I’m still learning and growing. Same with my music.
I have always loved a good story, whether I’m reading, watching, researching or telling one. For nearly 20 years, I worked as an investigative reporter, first for a couple of news services in Washington D.C., then a series of newspapers in western Massachusetts, and Southern California. I worked in Ventura for the Los Angeles Times, in Woodland Hills for the Daily News of Los Angeles, then returned to San Diego, where I grew up. My last full-time staff job before I quit the news biz in 2006 was at The San Diego Union-Tribune.
After covering government, politics, mental illness, prisons and jails, and the occasional crime story (it was always interesting when those beats overlapped), I left newspapers to take a leap into the wild blue world of risk and reward, and to pursue my dream of being a full-time author.
Today, I’m living the dream. My days vary depending on book deadlines and many other factors, but I’m usually working on two or three books at any given time, in between doing TV/radio gigs when news breaks or a documentary producer calls. I also coach a limited number of aspiring authors to help them pursue their dream of getting their first book published.
Balance and stress relief are important. I make time to swim in the ocean or pool, and walk by the beach—water of any kind, really. I also enjoy finding new restaurants and wineries with my partner and bandmate, Géza Keller, with whom I sing and play keyboards in the acoustic group, breaking the code.
It takes a lot of time to promote books before and after they come out so I also carve out time to do book talks, panel discussions, and other public speaking events.
Since getting my first book deal in 2004, I’ve published 13 titles, including my latest—the extensively revised and updated DEAD RECKONING—which tells the story of the murders of Tom and Jackie Hawks, who were tied to the anchor of their yacht, the Well Deserved, and thrown overboard—alive—off Newport Beach by transgender killer Skylar Deleon and a crew of misfits.
I’m now working on books #14 and #15. One is about the Rebecca Zahau death case (which many people here in San Diego call the “Coronado mansion murder”), and the other is about the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo.
Here are some quick summaries about my other books:
HUNTING CHARLES MANSON (coauthored with Lis Wiehl): This book takes a fresh look at Charles Manson, the Manson Family, and the murders they committed in the summer of 1969. Approaching this as a cold case, we reviewed all the original source materials and also gathered new facts from interviews and parole hearing transcripts, with an eye toward alternative theories to the Helter Skelter motive. Our goal was to give readers a new perspective on the murders they thought they already knew everything about, and that we did.
“You think you know everything about an infamous criminal case until brilliant writers and researchers like Lis Wiehl and Caitlin Rother come along to expose new layers and new insights. This is a must-read for true crime fans—and those who think they know everything about the Manson case.” – Gregg Olsen, #1 New York Times bestselling author
SECRETS, LIES, AND SHOELACES: A story of hardship and healing: This is my mini-memoir, a cautionary tale that I hope will save lives. It tells the story of my rocky relationship and marriage to an alcoholic with borderline personality disorder, which was marked by domestic violence, 911 calls, and a trip to the psychiatric hospital. Although the marriage ended with his suicide, never fear, my story has a happy ending.
“Caitlin Rother brings the same unsparing honesty and journalistic integrity that make her meticulously researched true-crime novels intriguingly readable. The story is harrowing (shudder). I think literally every woman will see bits of herself in it.” – Janie Siess of Colloquium
THEN NO ONE CAN HAVE HER: A story of murder and a roller-coaster ride to justice for Steve DeMocker, a professor turned investment broker, who was convicted of fatally bludgeoning his wife, Carol Kennedy, with a golf club in Prescott, Arizona, just 35 days after their divorce was final.
“I honestly could not stop reading Caitlin Rother’s Then No One Can Have Her. It’s riveting, revealing and insightful. . . Her closing chapters, written in first person, made my eyes water. What a fabulous, fabulous book!” – Suzy Spencer, New York Times bestselling author
LOVE GONE WRONG: A collection of 10 magazine-length true crime stories about murders in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, with killers including serial killer Pee Wee Gaskins, mass murderer Dylan Roof, and Sue Logue, the first woman to be executed in South Carolina, who had an on-off affair with Strom Thurmond before he became a U.S. senator.
I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU: The tale behind the cold case murder of multimillionaire entrepreneur Bill McLaughlin of Newport Beach, California, by his femme fatale fiancee, Nanette Johnston Packard, and her NFL-linebacker lover Eric Naposki.
“Caitlin Rother presents a fascinating study of one woman’s evil and greed—that ultimately leads to murder. An emotional and gripping tale from beginning to end.” – Aphrodite Jones, bestselling author and host of True Crime for Investigation Discovery Network
NAKED ADDICTION: This crime novel was the first book I ever wrote, and it took me 17 years to get published. After many ups and downs with its original publisher, the book was re-released here at WildBlue Press in 2014.
“With a journalist’s eye for the telling details of life, Caitlin Rother is a keen architect of the most important part of storytelling: character. The people in her prose grip you tightly with their truth.” – New York Times bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly
LOST GIRLS: The story behind the rape and murder of two San Diego-area teenagers, Chelsea King and Amber Dubois, by sexual predator John Gardner. I wrote this book to educate readers about what makes someone like Gardner do what they do. My hope has always been that this book will prevent similar tragedies from happening again by exposing flaws in the system through which this mentally ill man fell through, leaving him out on the street commit these horrific violent crimes.
“LOST GIRLS, by veteran journalist and true-crime writer Caitlin Rother is a deeply reported, dispassionately written attempt what created that monster and predator [John Gardner]. It is a cautionary tale and a horror story, done superbly by a writer who knows how to burrow into a complex case without becoming captive by her sources.” – Los Angeles Times
POISONED LOVE: After covering the Kristin Rossum murder case from arrest to sentencing for the Union-Tribune, I wrote this book about the case of the former county toxicologist who stole the powerful narcotic fentanyl and other drugs, which she used to poison her husband, Greg de Villers, then staged a suicide scene by sprinkling red rose petals over his body. My love for writing books has only heightened since this first one was published in 2005, in fact it’s become downright addictive.
“A true crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. A brilliant job of captivating the inner workings of a female killer.” – Aphrodite Jones, bestselling author and host of True Crime for Investigation Discovery Network
BODY PARTS: This is the story of long-haul trucker Wayne Adam Ford, who suffered a severe head injury while in the U.S. Marines, and later went on to develop numerous sexual paraphilias. Ford picked up prostitutes and troubled women along the road, forced them to have rough sex, revived them with CPR and did it again. Although he admitted to inflicting these acts on dozens of women, he was convicted of killing only four of them, some of whom he dismembered and put their bodies into the aqueduct or a body of water. Knowing he would kill again, he enlisted the help of his brother to turn himself to authorities in Eureka, California, with a baggie containing one of his victim’s breasts in his pocket.
My other books are TWISTED TRIANGLE, WHERE HOPE BEGINS/DEADLY DEVOTION and the New York Times bestselling memoir, MY LIFE, DELETED.
For more information, please visit my website, https://www.caitlinrother.com