My name is Lavinia Thompson; Lav for short. I am a 33-year-old Canadian mystery author with a lifelong true crime obsession. I have a journalism diploma but chose to pursue creative writing instead. As I always say, I am a garden witch who is obsessed with murder, true and fictional.
My first crime fiction series is called “Beyond Dark”, which follows Alyssa Rawkesby, a tormented criminal profiler who specializes in female serial killers, handling both her haunting past and a new rookie partner. I also have a novella series called “Martha Holmes Mysteries”, which follows private investigator Martha Holmes as she navigates a sudden divorce and a life-changing case that alters the direction of her career.
I run a true crime blog on Medium, under the publication “Degrees of Monstrosity”, which focuses on female killers and their psychology.
How many books have you written?
Many, though only three are currently published.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of them?
I started out writing dark fantasy when I was younger, switched to a book series about a girl who wanted to be a rock star, and then navigated into mystery. I did a lot of writing before settling on mystery/crime fiction as my genre. I plan on revisiting the previous books one day. I also write poetry on the side, as an outlet for my trauma and mental illness.
Where are your books set?
Both “Beyond Dark” and “Martha Holmes Mysteries” are set in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Do you plan every step of your novel before you begin, or do you write spontaneously? (I do a little of both).
I also do a little of both. I’ll plan major plot points, the start, and the end, and always start with a solid idea for the characters. Series are convenient because you always have the main characters already set, and you just have to update them depending on their character growth. I also have a good idea of my antagonist when I start. For everything else in between, I am spontaneous.
Which character that you’ve created holds the dearest place in your heart?
Oh, this is a hard question for any author, I think, after we’ve written numerous books. The characters from my rock star story are still very dear to me for different reasons, but really, I think Alyssa takes this one.
I was at rock bottom with my depression in the two or three years following the fall out of my marriage. I struggled to write and struggled to function through daily things like my job. And if I couldn’t write, then I wasn’t sure I still wanted to go on. It was then I decided to switch from my beloved rock star story to the mystery genre. The vague idea for Alyssa had been in my mind for many years, but I didn’t bring her to life until early 2019. Writing “Belladonna”, the first “Beyond Dark” book, is what brought me out of that darkness and gave me the will to keep going. It’s weird how sometimes a character can save your life.
Do you find writing a cathartic process?
Oh, 100 percent. It’s the main reason I write. I started as a kid because of the trauma and abuse happening around and to me, it gave me an outlet when I had nothing else.
You have a blog about true life female serial killers. Where did your fascination for them come from?
We are surrounded by male serial killers when it comes to the true crime community. Names like Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer get tossed around endlessly. I guess you could say I got tired of hearing and reading about them. Female serial killers have a completely different psychology than men. They murder those closest to them, not complete strangers. They are discreet and rarely gruesome about it. There is something so much more terrifying about knowing the women closest to you could turn on you like that. A mother, a wife, a grandmother, a nurse, a teacher. All of these roles that are supposed to be nurturing, loving, doting, altruistic, and it becomes so dark when you realize how easily they can overtake vulnerable people the way they do.
When I started “Beyond Dark”, I knew I wanted to focus on fictional serial killers, but I didn’t want to write a lot of sexual violence as we see so often with males. I started the first “Beyond Dark” with the Belladonna Killer, and decided to continue the theme of female serial killers from there.
Which person in your life has had the most influence on your writing?
I can’t name just one person for this one. My high school English teacher really nurtured my love for writing when I was younger, and it was one of the first times I felt seen by someone. My mother is the reason I love true crime. She let me watch “Law and Order” and true crime documentaries when I was little. My writing group on Discord always provides inspiration and encouragement. I like to think as writers, we pick up pieces of influence from many people, not just one.
What research have you undertaken for your books?
Criminal psychology, forensics, settings, organized crime (for a spinoff I am planning), and lots of little things. For the first “Beyond Dark”, I had to go in depth in understanding how the poison worked and impacted victims. For “Martha Holmes Mysteries”, I had to research how being a PI and being a cop differed, because there are many things PIs can’t do that cops can. PIs can only do so much before they are obligated to involve law enforcement. All of that is important for keeping her character realistic.
What author has influenced you more than any other?
I grew up reading like the likes of Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, so one could say Carolyn Keene or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a big influence on my mystery writing. For true crime writing, Ann Rule, hands down. She always had a way of balancing facts from cases with respect to victims and their families.
Which fictional crime solver is your favourite?
Sherlock Holmes, naturally. His mind always fascinated me.
If you could be told the name of a killer from any unsolved murder in history, which case would it be?
The Zodiac or Jack the Ripper.
What are the problems of writing crime novels set in the modern day? (Portraying police procedures accurately for example)
A huge criticism about the crime genre, be it books or TV (“Law & Order” or “FBI”, for example) is the glorification of cops at a time when they are under so much scrutiny (and much of it deserved). Dick Wolf tackles a lot of issues in his shows, like racism, homophobia, domestic violence, and so forth, and one side he is criticized for glorifying cops, and on the other, he gets criticized for the content being too “woke”, as some people call it (being alert to social injustice such as racism). Balancing that, I think, is a huge challenge for crime fiction and mystery authors, and to portray those issues in an accurate, respectful manner, should we choose to tackle them at all in our fiction.
Martha Holmes, one of your characters is a PI. Is this a career you’ve ever thought about for yourself?
Not really. I chose the PI route for her because I wanted to write content that wasn’t as dark or gruesome as “Beyond Dark” gets into. It’s a lot lighter on the dark psychology content, and even includes some romance on the side as Martha processes her divorce and gets back into dating again.
If one of your books was picked up to be made into a movie, who would you like to see staring in the key roles?
I haven’t thought much about it for Martha Holmes, but I think Sela Ward would do a brilliant job as Alyssa. Ward was in season one of “FBI” and she was amazing.
If you had to choose between your books making you a wealthy author, or them really making a positive difference in someone’s life, what would you choose?
I mean, both would be ideal. Honestly, I’d take the wealth. I don’t write specifically to make a difference in anyone’s life, but to entertain.
Where can fans find you on social media?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, the usual haunts. It can all be found via my Linktree: https://linktr.ee/laviniathompson