Darkness and Light

Fall, 2022 / No. 50
Photograph by Aaron Hawco
Aaron Hawco

When Taddle Creek profiled Lynn Crosbie in its first issue, in 1997, the author had just released Paul’s Case, a collection of fictional letters to the serial killer Paul Bernardo that Crosbie called an “imaginative investigation.” The book received a great deal of media discussion, much of it negative, and Crosbie faced multiple threats of violence. She recently spoke to Taddle Creek about how the book’s reputation has stayed with her throughout a career that now spans more than a dozen books. 

“I would say people remember me most for writing that book: ‘Author of the controversial Paul’s Case.’ Oh my God. Why don’t you just say ‘Lunatic who wrote a disgusting book we hate’? 

“I did develop a reputation for writing things that were too dark, too dire, and not sellable, as such. I do write about dark things, and I can get creepy, but so what? In any other market that’s an asset.

“I continued to write books like Missing Children, which explored pedophilia. I went on to examine sexual violence and abnormal subjects, and my sometimes disquieting taste emerges from, among other things, my fascination with artists like Jean Genet or Charles Baudelaire—people who aren’t afraid to examine the human condition and understand that the darkness is part of the light. 

“I think the unfair part was I was condemned for writing a book no one read.
I wasn’t the only person—there were three sensational books out about the murders and they talked about every detail of the crimes. And I never talked about the crimes. I talked about trying to kill the killers.

“It’s a little frustrating because I wrote it so long ago. But it’s still better than being known for writing a book about a butter churner’s daughter. I’m proud of it. It’s a young book, but it’s a good book. I’ve seen a couple of comments online: ‘I thought it’s about Bernardo, but it’s fucking crazy. It’s all drawings and shit. She doesn’t even talk about the murders!’ Which was exactly the point—to keep my eyes only on the criminals, not their vile deeds. The serial killer people just want to read disgusting perverse acts against young women, and they’re not going to find it in my book. I don’t want anyone reading that story. Those girls don’t deserve that.”