As a crime fiction writer it’s a given that I’m morbidly fascinated, no not fascinated, obsessed by all things criminal, especially true crime. An avid fan of YouTube channels and podcasts, in my opinion there’s no better way to spend a long drive, train journey or stormy Sunday night.
Listening to true crime stories helps me immensely as a crime writer, not only with in-depth research but also serving as a catalyst for many characters and ideas to scatter throughout my prose.
Out of the hundreds of true crime channels and podcasts the Truly Criminal docu-series on YouTube is well and truly (pun intended;) head and shoulders above everything else out there. Extraordinarily well edited cases of murder, death and mayhem are dealt with in a respectful but thoroughly in-depth manner.
Any self-respecting crime author should be making them a preferred channel and binge-watching the series pronto.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to talk to the two crime geniuses behind the channel. Check out the interview below and then head over to YouTube to see what they’ve got on offer. You will probably be shocked, disgusted and horrified by the crimes documented but you won’t be disappointed in Truly Criminal.
Hi Truly Criminal,
I’d like to start off by saying I’m a massive fan of your YouTube channel and you’ve been a huge inspiration and aid to my literary efforts. Thanks a lot for agreeing to the interview with us here at Punk Noir Magazine. Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started documenting the worst in true crimes and making them such addictive and fascinating viewing?
Mia: It was always my goal to try and make mini documentaries, as opposed to just a video talking about a true crime case. I want to make content that I would want to watch, and as someone who grew up watching Forensic Files and Unsolved Mysteries, I was really impacted by that. True crime documentaries are upping their game all the time and we want to emulate that. I’m passionate about telling victim’s stories and I want to tell them in the most tactful and compassionate way possible, which always makes me want to make the quality of what we do the best it can be.
Alice: Last year when the world went into lockdown, we suddenly had a lot more time on our hands which gave us the chance to finally make content. Like Mia, I always wanted to produce the kind of content that I enjoy watching and as someone who has also long been fascinated by true crime, lockdown was the perfect opportunity to learn how to do that. I think it’s important that the gravity of the situations we are discussing is never glossed over or lost on us – it’s always in the back of our heads that these were real events that happened to real people. Having that always in our minds has, I think, made our content what it is.
What is the one true crime case that fascinates you the most?
Mia: I’m fascinated by so so many it’s so hard to pin down just one! But one person I found particularly interesting was Dee Dee Moore, who was convicted of killing a man named Abraham Shakespeare back in 2009. The lies she told and the lengths she went to to cover up what shed done and keep such elaborate stories going, genuinely left me with my mouth open. She is one of the most deluded and bizarre people, a compulsive liar that thought about nothing but herself. It’s really a sad and disturbing case, but fascinating at the same time. You only have to watch a clip of her on YouTube to gain an understanding for the kind of person she is.
Alice: Russell Williams. We covered his case a while ago and it’s honestly one of those cases that has stuck with me. On the one hand, he seemingly had it all: he was a high ranking military officer who had, as part of his service, flown the Canadian Prime Minister, as well as members of the British Royal Family. He was happily married and was well respected in his community. On the other hand, he was someone who committed the most appalling crimes imaginable, murdering two women and sexually assaulting several others. He was capable of unbelievable cruelty and seemed to relish in terrorising and terrifying his victims. That juxtaposition I find so hard to understand.
How about cold cases? Which cold case frustrates you the most?
Alice: The disappearance of Nicola Payne. Growing up in Coventry, less than 15 minutes from where she went missing, has meant this case has always felt different to me. She went missing before we were born but our parents remember it vividly. She went missing in such an open area and was never seen or heard from again. There have been multiple arrests and a trial in which the accused where cleared, as well as searches that have turned up nothing. What makes this case stick in my mind is how close to home it is. I’ve always thought of Coventry as small and the idea that someone could vanish here is somewhat unbelievable to me. It’s so frustrating as whenever the police appear to be making headway, it seems to go nowhere. I really hope there will be answers one day.
Mia: Asha Degree. That case is so very sad and completely baffling. A 9 year old disappeared in the middle of the night, in the middle of a storm, taking only her backpack; which would later be found discarded by a barn. She would be 31 now and still no trace of her has ever been found. I would love for her family to get answers about what happened to her.
-And if I could pick just one more?…JonBenet Ramsay. It’s frustrating and tragic too, and every time I look into it I come away with more questions. I think a lot of people have an idea or an opinion about what could have happened that night, but it would be good to finally get a solid answer. A lot of people know about the case, and it’s been covered so many times, but it’s sort of become a drama in itself, because of how strange the story is. But, at the end of it all, a six year old girl was brutally killed and she deserves justice.
What are your plans for the channel in the future?
Mia: I want to make longer documentaries, hopefully further down the line doing investigative journalism by interviewing people and putting together content like that.
Alice: I would love to branch out and do some more series, like the one we did on crimes involving high profile celebrities, called Deadly Fame. A series on cults would be fascinating. I also love content looking at strange and disturbing things that have happened that aren’t necessarily true crime; like weird videos that nobody can explain or strange phenomena that has no answers, so maybe something like that would be fun to do.
What is an issue you care about deeply?
Alice: In terms of crime and criminal justice I’d say access to legal aid and ensuring that people have adequate resources to access the criminal justice system in a timely and affordable manner. More broadly, I care a lot about support for people living HIV/AIDs. It’s an illness that still carries so much stigma and misinformation and even though it impacts millions around the world, the lack of resources for those affected and education about HIV/AIDs in general is something that must change.
Mia: In terms of crime, I’m on the same page as Alice. There’s so many cases we’ve looked into where victims have been really badly let down by the justice system for various reasons. Dominique Dunne comes to my mind straight away, for example.
More broadly; climate change. It’s a scary time, and it’s really a case of now or never to get things sorted.
What novels are you reading now?
Alice: I’m reading Shiver, a collection of short manga horror stories, by Junji Ito. I also recently finished The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. I think I’m pretty hard to scare, but I was reading it at about 2AM and I had to stop because I was getting so freaked out.
Mia: Social Warming: The Dangerous And Polarising Effect Of Social Media by Charles Arthur. It’s absolutely fascinating and I bought it after watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix (which if you haven’t seen it, go and watch it. It’s incredible.)
What music are you listening to now?
Alice: My Spotify playlist had pretty much anything and everything on it. My most listened to are probably Queen, Green Day, Hozier and Bruce Springsteen.
Mia: Honestly a bit of everything! I love to just choose random playlists and hit shuffle. My taste is hard to pin down!
What did you last eat?
Mia: A tuna panini
Alice: A chicken wrap
If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 criminals alive or dead who would you choose?
We’d probably say the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit thieves. It’s the most ridiculous story of a group of men, with an average age of 63, who launched a heist in Hatton Garden and stole £14million (less than half of that was recovered!). It was made into a drama by ITV which was brilliant and showed why the plan to a certain extent was always doomed to fail and that they would inevitably be caught and prosecuted. We’d love to go for a pint with them all and ask ‘why?’ What were they thinking? What on earth was going through their heads? They would have a few interesting stories to tell us…
What would you like written on your gravestone?
Mia: I tried my best.
Alice: I wanted to be cremated, so I don’t know why I’m here.
Stephen J. Golds
Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.
He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.
He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.