It is a pleasure to welcome Emily Webb to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Suburban True Crime we sat down for a chat. Thanks Emily!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
I’m having a cup of Bengal Spice herbal tea, my favourite!
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I started out as a journalist when I was 19 and worked in magazines and then eventually, after living in London for several years and doing lots of different jobs, I worked as a reporter for Leader Community Newspapers in Melbourne. I was there for eight years and did all sorts of reporting – courts, local councils, features and, my favourite – police rounds and crime reporting. I’ve published three true crime books, Murder in Suburbia, Angels of Death (about healthcare serial killers) and Suburban Nightmare.
What kick started the creation of your book, Suburban True Crime?
My books Murder in Suburbia and Suburban Nightmare were out of print by the time I started co-hosting the podcast Australian True Crime with Meshel Laurie and people kept asking me “where can I get your books?!”. So, Suburban True Crime is a combination of these two books – I’ve selected cases from both books and updated them, including interviewing more people where I could. I’ve also added some new cases.
What themes and issues dominate Suburban True Crime?
My particular interest is unsolved crimes in the suburbs of Australia, particularly ones that happened decades ago. I live in the suburbs, like many in Australia do, and terrible, tragic events happen in our neighbourhoods. I find it hard to understand how people can commit crimes, especially murder and sexual assault, and if they’re not caught, go on living their lives for years, sometimes decades. Sometimes these people keep offending but sometimes they don’t.
I’m also really focused on the “ripple effect” that crime has on families, friends, and communities. I hope my writing conveys a focus on this. Some of the cases I’ve written about are unresolved. It’s devastating to know that families have gone years without knowing who murdered their loved one, or parents pass away never knowing what happened to their missing family member. And the cases where someone has been convicted of murder but will not reveal where their victim’s body is. It’s haunting.
How long did it take you to write Suburban True Crime?
It probably took me seven months to get it finished, thanks to a tight deadline from my publisher (this is the only way I can get projects done!) but I’d already done a lot of the writing and spent a long time (years in fact!) thinking “I really need to update my books and republish”. I spent a lot of time updating chapters and finding people to interview who had a connection to the cases I’ve written about.
What research was involved in compiling Suburban True Crime?
For the historical crimes I wrote about I use newspaper archives and I visited the Public Records Office of Victoria on several occasions. For more contemporary cases I research on the internet, had a lot of background conversations and also interviewed people – families of murder victims, detectives and retired detectives, people who were involved in some of the cases in the book… wherever possible I’ve tried to do this.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing Suburban True Crime?
What always stays with me is that awful, unimaginable things can happen to the people we love, and care about…and it changes lives immediately. Life is never the same for survivors of crime and families of people who are murdered or go missing. And it’s not talked about as much but the families of people who perpetrate crime are also affected in a huge way.
I’m interested in the “why?” of crime.
What do you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading Suburban True Crime?
If readers are like me, they are looking for answers about why crimes happen but it’s never that simple because humans are complex. Often, we don’t find out why. I hope that readers of Suburban True Crime get more understanding of the impact of crime on people. That these events really happened. That’s what I like to write about cases that are lesser known or have faded into obscurity over the years.
Can you tell us about your role as a co-host on the podcast Australian True Crime?
I’ve been co-hosting the podcast with Meshel Laurie since 2017 and it’s an absolute privilege. Our podcast is interview-style – we talk to people affected by crime including families who’ve had a loved one murdered, survivors of crime, police, lawyers, journalists, advocates and even families of people who’ve committed crimes. We have an incredibly supportive listenership, and we are primarily focused on creating a space for people to share their experiences so we can all get a better understanding of crime beyond what we see in headlines in the media.
What does your writing space look like?
I don’t have a dedicated writing space. I write from the couch, my bed, the kitchen table. I’ve even used my ironing board as a desk. In fact, my great friend Megan Norris, who is an incredible true crime writer, also uses an ironing board as her writing desk and when she told me that, it didn’t seem so weird!
When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to watch my daughters play sport, walk my two rescue greyhounds, listen to podcasts and audiobooks and potter around at home.
What book is next on your reading pile?
Two books by Australian women authors – Aoife Clifford’s When We Fall and Kylie Kaden’s One of Us.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I’m thinking about writing a follow up to Suburban True Crime and I am researching at the moment.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Emily. Congratulations on the release of your new book, Suburban True Crime.
Chilling cases of murder and crime that have happened in the quiet streets of Australia’s suburbs.
Featuring contemporary cases as well as some shocking historical murders you’ve probably never heard of, Suburban True Crime proves you shouldn’t say “it could never happen here”.
This collection of cases that are hard to believe, except they really happened – and all in the streets and homes of the Australia many of us know and live. The suburbs.
These cases range from recent murders to some historical stories that will shock and surprise. Some of the cases you’ll know and there’s crimes you’ve never heard of. These cases will shock and surprise you including the still-unsolved mistaken identity murder of Melbourne mother Jane Thurgood-Dove and the horrifying story of a man who killed in Australia and then was released from prison, only to kill again in the United States.
There’s also some historical crimes that shocked the community at the time but have now faded into obscurity, including cases of child murder in the 1970s. Think nothing ever happens where you live? Think again.
Emily Webb is a journalist, true crime author and co-host of the popular Australian True Crime podcast.
Suburban True Crime by Emily Webb was published on 2nd May 2022 by Big Sky Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Emily here: