Ann Rule in 1984 with “The Stranger Beside Me,” her best-selling 1980 study
of the serial killer Ted Bundy. Credit – Doug Wilson (nytimes.com)
Ted Bundy and Ann Rule
Ann Rule (1931-2015) was an American author of true crime books and articles. As a woman in a genre typically reserved for men, she pioneered true crime journalism through the lens of a woman. This unique perspective allowed women to be part of the conversation about serial killers, and not just as victims in a pile of crime scene photographs.
She is best-known for The Stranger Beside Me, about the serial killer Ted Bundy with whom she worked. Incredibly, Rule and Bundy worked together at a suicide hotline centre in Seattle, Washington. They worked alone, side by side in the locked facility. He was protective of her, walking her to her car after their shift each night. She considered him a friend, until the truth was later revealed about his crimes.
Afterwards, in the 2009 edition of her book she described him as, “a sadistic sociopath who took pleasure from another human’s pain and the control he had over his victims, to the point of death, and even after.”
After writing about her experience with Ted Bundy, she went on to write over 30 bestselling books about other killers and true crime cases. While not necessarily a brilliant writer, Ann Rule was enormously popular and captured our collective fascination with true crimes.
Grab the 20th anniversary edition of her most famous book here:
True Crime Writing Tips from Ann Rule
Along with publishing bestselling books, Ann Rule also spoke at conferences to aspiring authors about how to write great true crime.
One of her trademarks was the intense research she did for all of her stories. Here are 10 writing tips, gathered over the years from her many appearances.
- Get to know law enforcement and their techniques
- Attend classes, including in criminology, psychology
- Go to trials
- Try to obtain the court documents from the court reporter or the prosecutor, or purchase them
- Give all the details. Put your reader there with the physical details (see, smell hear, etc)
- Add your own feelings about the events, as well as the victim and/or their families
- Choose the most “intricate, convoluted cases because then you don’t have to pad”
- Avoid over-publicized cases unless you have something more interesting to add
- Unless you are trying to solve the crime, choose stories that are completed. Otherwise you will have to wait for court proceedings to be finished, sometimes years.
- Choose cases carefully. Those gory details will be filling your mind, and your life.
Ann Rule in her Own Words about Writing:
Ann Rule Books in Order
After the success of the Bundy book, which she wrote under her own name, Ann Rule wrote several books, including some under other name Andy Stack (The Want-Ad Killer, Lust Killer and The I-5 Killer). She began alternating hard cover books with multi-case soft cover books called the “Ann Rule’s Crime Files” series.
Below are her highest-rated, bestselling books according to Amazon readers. The list contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase we get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks!).