I met Leanna Renee Hieber last year at RT when she helped shoot the video interviews RT Magazine did with a bunch of authors. (She and director Morgan Doremus had me cracking up between takes, which is probably why I look like I am high or a complete ditz and WE ARE JUST GOING WITH THAT THEORY, thank you.) I adored them both immediately. They are the kind of women you wish lived right around the corner, because you just know you’d have a blast hanging out.
Which turned out to be amazingly true. Leanna and I hung out a bit this year at PASIC and again at national and she is just one of those amazing, talented people you immediately root for. Especially since her book — The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker — is terrific.
What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent—and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…
[This is where I get to say, “I got an ARC, I got an ARC, nyah nyah nyah nyah, nyah.”]
I know, I am so mature. But while we’re waiting for this book to come out TUESDAY, AUGUST 25TH, Leanna agreed to blog for me, and I know you’re going to have fun with this one.
So I am pleased to give you Leanna Renee Heiber:
“Everyone’s Favourite Serial Killer”
No, I don’t mean Dexter. I mean the other one, the real one. Jack the Ripper.
How does one deal with such a household name? From movies to graphic novels, fiction to non-fiction, the killer is a superstar and has made his presence known in every artistic form.
I’ve been on the classic Jack the Ripper walking tours through Whitechapel, and found myself enrapt, and spooked, and I left those alleys feeling no closer to knowing the truth. All the London walking tours are led by exceedingly knowledgeable guides who have very passionate opinions on all that’s been written and proposed about Jack and the murders, but they themselves are hesitant to present conclusions. Resources like www.casebook.org will have you immediately steeped in a vast wealth of valuable information proving that Jack remains, by far, the most popular of all unsolved mysteries.
Why? I believe our fascination with Jack has many factors. It was an immediately famous spree of horrific murders at a time when ‘serial killing’ didn’t have a sensational list of names attached. It remains mysterious and unsolved. It came at a time we now regard as quite ‘civilized’, an era we highly romanticize. The Victorian era fascinates us as being so very different from ours. Yet we can certainly recognize true horror, no matter the era.
If an author decides to take a crack at including Jack the Ripper in their book, it can easily become daunting. I don’t, frankly, have an opinion about who Jack was. My favorite Jack narrative is Alan Moore’s From Hell, but that doesn’t mean I believe Moore’s take on Jack’s identity. Because I’ve no sense of who, I made Jack supernatural, an unfortunate side-effect of the much larger problem of a war between the mortal and spirit world that’s about to rage at the center of London.
While Jack is a bit of a sidebar in The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I do use details of the murders, locations and victims within my fantasy narrative. During my research I found my fascination with the Ripper case as strong as it was the day I’d first heard the name and surprised at how easily upsetting and shocking it still remains. The Victorian photograph of Mary Jane Kelly’s body, the final and most severely mutilated corpse, haunts me to this day.
What fascinates you about everyone’s favourite serial killer? Why Jack? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction accounts of Jack the Ripper? Do you have any theories?
— Leanna Renee Hieber is an award winning author, professional actress and award-winning playwright. Her greatest loves are ghosts and fantasy fiction. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, first in a Gothic Victorian fantasy series with Leisure Books/Dorchester Publishing, launches 8/25/09 visit her at www.leannareneehieber.com