Tuesday, April 23, 2019

5 Podcasts & YouTubers For the Crime or Mystery Writer

By Bonnie Randall 

Part of the How They Do It Series 

JH: Today's online world offers a tremendous amount of research opportunities for writers. Bonnie Randall shares some of her favorites today.

Want a fun way to learn authentic investigative procedures, build insight into the emotional impact of crime, or maybe just satisfy your own appetite for real life mysteries? Then check out the following—my Top 5 Podcasts & Chans – and how they’ve informed my fiction.

1. Missing Maura Murray

If you are writing about a cold case, particularly about a person who vanished many years ago, then this heart-wrenching, confounding podcast is for you. The case of Maura Murray is filled with a lot of promising corridors leading to no discernable solutions to its escape room, and is an excellent (albeit tragic) example of how a real-life mystery truly can be littered with opportunists, red-herrings, shady characters, and a passage of years with no lucrative leads. 

The Maura Murray file is the epitome of how truth really is stranger than fiction, and I sincerely pray that one day she will be found, and that those who love her (and have grown to love her) will find peace in her discovery.

2. True Crime Garage

If you are crafting a protagonist who is not Law Enforcement, yet is nonetheless a passionate detective, then Nic and The Captain are a must to tune into. These two deep-dive into some of the most notorious and provocative cases out there, and while you may not always agree with their conclusions (I, for one, subscribe to Occam’s Razor, and therefore think the West Memphis Three are guilty, guilty, GUILTY!), you will nonetheless appreciate their rawly hewn insight, Nic’s tenacity to uncover the details, The Captain’s caustic sense of humor, and how laypersons can, indeed, be passionate advocates for justice (and mighty fine detectives). 

Sidebar: did you know that many cold-case detectives actually inject themselves onto the chans and into the comment sections / twitter feeds of YouTubers and podcasters? It’s true! And it is not just because of the theory that the bad guy will lurk in the shadows of such places. Many detectives are a part of these chans because of the keen insight, time, and devotion the ‘armchair detectives’ offer. Don’t forget—Michelle McNamara, posthumous author of I’ll Be Gone in The Dark, was a true-crime blogger who ended up being instrumental in uncovering the identity of ‘The Golden State Killer’.

3. The Vanished Podcast

Another podcast that focuses on missing persons, The Vanished walks through the minutiae of procedural investigation (always helpful in terms of buttressing whatever other procedural / law enforcement research you are doing) and also features interviews with family and friends of the missing—thus offering lucrative insight into emotional response, vocal tone, and how both of these elements change over the passage of time. 

For example—there is a different pitch of sorrow to the voice of someone whose loved one has been missing for years as opposed to months, a shift from frantic to melancholia for the person whose loved one has been gone from days to years.

4. John Lordan’s Brainscratch and/or Searchlight

When you are looking to create a thorough, discerning narrator or a protagonist who is simultaneously as compassionate as they are open-minded, then anything on John Lordan’s YouTube channel is something you need to experience. A veritable scholar of any case he chooses to cover, John never jumps to conclusions and is not given to flights-of-fancy—yet he is also not one to rule out that, sometimes, literally incredible things do happen in this world. The series of videos John produced to cover the baffling Elisa Lam case was the 100% inspiration for my novella, No Vacancy.

5. Any Interview with David Paulides and His Missing 411 Project

If your mystery needs an injection of eerie, or smatterings of the supernatural, then you want to listen to virtually any interview via podcast or YouTube with David Paulides. A former law enforcement officer, David has spent years investigating the inexplicable volume of people who have vanished within the confines of National Parks in both the US and Canada. I will not venture to deliver any spoilers with regard to his work, but I will tell you that, after you listen to what David has to share—in particular the list of commonalities within the missing persons files he’s researched—you will never, ever, hike alone in a National Park again.

Now, with all that being said, how about you? Is there / are there podcasts or YouTube channels that have been immeasurably helpful with each of your respective genres? Have you listened to any of the ones I’ve listed here? Please share!

PS: I have a new web domain for my own blog! Check out bonnierandallstories.com – I am releasing my paranormal romantic suspense novel Within The Summit’s Shadow next week, and will have a collection of cool articles about it there. Check it out!


Bonnie Randall is a Canadian writer who lives between her two favorite places—the Jasper Rocky Mountains and the City of Champions: Edmonton, Alberta. A clinical counselor who scribbles fiction in notebooks whenever her day job allows, Bonnie is fascinated by the relationships people develop—or covet—with both the known and unknown, the romantic and the arcane.

Her novel Divinity & The Python, a paranormal romantic thriller, was inspired by a cold day in Edmonton when the exhaust rising in the downtown core appeared to be the buildings, releasing their souls.

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About Divinity & The Python

Divinity - Where deception and desire both hide in the dark...

The Cards Forecast Work

Shaynie Gavin is so much more than the sexy siren who mixes cocktails at The Python. A carpenter with a business plan, Shaynie is trying to amass enough funds to launch her own dream - Divinity, a place where up-cycled furniture from the past is sold alongside Tarot readings forecasting the future - and all in a setting that could not be more perfect: a former funeral parlor. Shaynie's belief that Divinity is attuned with the passions, the loves, and even the lies of its departed souls, allow her to feel satisfied when the cards she draws there reveal Wands, the Tarot's symbol for work. And yet...Shaynie would be so grateful if the Tarot would also, just once, illuminate a Hellnight from her past. A lost evening whose scars still slither over her skin, Hellnight haunts Shaynie. Yet when she calls the question of that chilling evening into her deck...

The Cards Forecast Love

...and love appears in the form of pro hockey star Cameron Weste. Weste is haunted by scars and superstitions of his own, and he wants Shaynie's Tarot to answer far deeper questions than she first guesses this sexy Lothario to be capable of. Who knew Weste was this intense? The Tarot, apparently. And yet...

The Cards Forecast The Devil

When Cameron Weste lands in her life, a stalker surfaces too, dropping clues to a connection between Shaynie, Cameron, and her lost, brutal Hellnight. Suddenly every card warns of deception, and nowhere feels safe. Shaynie and Cameron have to fight for their love - and their lives - as The Devil, their stalker, is determined to turn the Death Card for them both.

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