25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Lee Mellor

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Lee Mellor

Lee Mellor is the author of Cold North Killers: Canadian Serial Murder (Dundurn Press), a book that details Canada?s serial killers and analyzes their crimes, childhoods and downfalls. Turning his attention from writing about serial murder, he has written a completely new book, Rampage: Canadian Mass Murder and Spree Killing (Dundurn Press), which was published this month. Detailing 25 Canadian mass murderers and spree killers, this book answers the question of why they committed their crimes.

Today Lee takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, which gives authors the chance to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. In this interview, Lee, who happens to be pursuing a PhD in the study of multicide and sexual violence at Concordia University, tells us about how he will eventually be the only PhD in "serial murder," describes the "real" television show he has in the works and reveals his personal philosophy.

Lee Mellor?s Dirty Dozen

1. Confession: I am actually quite wary about providing these answers as I thought you were sending me a list of predetermined questions. Now my faulty superego is attempting to separate what other people would find interesting about me from the jumble of experiences and impressions that have culminated in "me." Unfortunately, important contributing factors are not necessarily interesting. For instance, I've had a number of experiences which have left me cynical. But who gives a shit? That's totally unexceptional. You're probably more interested in my eccentricities and crazy antics during my journey from bohemian-befriending outlaw country singer to cop-connected true crime author. Unfortunately, my present situation as a quasi-respectable citizen means I can't divulge the really good stories. Nevertheless, I'll try to keep this interesting. Have I failed yet? Did I mention I think I have paranoid personality disorder?

2. In high school I ran for my general council as a joke, because the thought of me ever being emotionally invested in any kind of club or institution is laughable. To my surprise, I won. I never did show up for any of the meetings, but did get my photograph taken for the yearbook group photo with a rather insidious look on my face, as I clutched a plush monkey toy. The same stuffed animal was later found armless and face down in a puddle on top of Bowmanville High School's roof, observable through a large window facing east. If memory serves me correctly, this crime scene photo also made it into one of the high school yearbooks. Such was my abhorrence for anything organized, that I was also sarcastically nominated for "most school spirit" at my prom. My fellow students did so as a joke, one that I found highly amusing. It's too bad I didn't win — the acceptance speech would have been memorable, to say the least.

3. Ted Bundy once said "I'm the only PhD in serial murder." Not true actually — Ted never got a PhD. That would be extremely difficult for a psychopath. They become bored, distracted and are in constant need of excitement. Unlike Ted, I actually am pursuing my doctorate in serial murder through an Individualized Study Program based out of Concordia University in Montreal. I am fortunate enough to be working with some real heavyweights, including Dr. Eric Hickey of Alliant International University. Currently, I am writing papers on detecting psychopathic behaviour at crime scenes, the use of sociological theory in understanding serial murder and constructing a typology of homicidal necrophiles. This is what I do all day, except when I procrastinate by filling out questionnaires. To my knowledge, sometime within the next five years I will actually become the only PhD specifically in "serial murder."

4. Another fun project I have in the works is a real television show called "The Skeptic Tank.? The reason I use "real TV" instead of "reality TV" is that we don't fake anything and try to pass it off as reality. There's no makeup, no lights, no scripted character conflicts. Pure cinema vérité. Essentially, it's a paranormal investigation show, where none of the crew believes in ghosts whatsoever. We just finished filming our first vigil at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts where Andrew and Abby Borden were axed to death on August 4th, 1892. We've chopped a preview together and are looking for investors or interest from television stations. Please send any professional inquiries about the show to the producer, Garran Pennington, at [email protected].

5. On my 30th birthday I celebrated by throwing a music concert in my backyard (I live part-time on a lake in the country), with performances by some of my wonderfully talented friends. I hedonistically procured 34 different species of animals, all of which I ate in one day along with many of my guests. The list included: pheasant, rabbit, crocodile, duck, muskox, salmon, tuna, mussels, chicken, cow, pig, octopus, kangaroo, camel, wild boar, lamb, goat, turkey, frog, deer, moose, ostrich, emu, elk, horse, goose, buffalo, lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, crab, squid and Cornish hen.

6. I have a series of fictional detective novels, two horror novels, two fantasy novels and a philosophical work called The Myth of Nothingness gestating in my imagination. I'm getting a little bored of the non-fiction stuff, so look for one of these to emerge sometime in the next six years. After I write my textbook...

7. I frequently get letters from the loved ones of victims whose murders were featured in one of my books asking if I know the current whereabouts of the killer. "Is he still alive? If so, is he incarcerated? Where is he incarcerated?" The sad truth is that often I don't. Transparency in the Canadian court and judicial system is a joke. The fact that the victims' relatives aren't automatically notified whenever an offender changes institutions or dies bothers me, and I believe it is something that should be addressed by the current government.

8. My personal philosophy: If you're still trying to be "cool" by the time you're 25, chances are you're probably not. In fact, this whole idea of "coolness" is a total farce. We are all born crying, struggle through life on different levels, and die in our own waste. Rather than striving to be cool, try to be interesting. The best way to exist as an interesting person is to first be interested in existence. Another way of putting it is "instead of affecting a mysterious persona, delve headfirst into mystery." Worked for Indiana Jones.

9. Things that piss me off #1:

I'm walking down the street and somebody asks me for a cigarette.
"No, sorry, I don't smoke," I say honestly.
"You're lucky," they reply in a victimized tone.

Yeah, luck — that's the difference. That's why you have an addiction and I don't. It's got nothing to do with the fact that I made a conscious effort not to get hooked on smoking because I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a relatively ineffective drug that substantially increases my chances of lung cancer. People need to own up to their poor decisions. Bad luck is developing lupus, or growing up in an abusive home. You won't get any sympathy from me for problems that you can change instantaneously through sheer force of will. Don't get me wrong: I don't have anything against smokers, only people who can't or won't admit to problems they have created for themselves.

10. Paradoxically, while vacationing in Cuba, I developed a penchant for cigars. And fresh pina coladas. And Latinas. And Cuban music. Do you think Castro would invite me to be Cuba's first criminal profiler? There's gotta be serial offenders on that island somewhere. I wonder if the government keeps that information suppressed.

11. I have long hair and a beard for the following reasons: 1) I'm a Leo, called Lee, and was born in England (a national symbol is the lion). Therefore it is a poetic necessity for me to sport a mane, 2) When I look in the mirror I prefer to see "viking," "pirate" or "civil war soldier" than "salesman," 3) I use it to test people. If somebody is incapable of taking my mind seriously because of my appearance, it is usually a sign that they are repressed, unimaginative and/or unintelligent. Helps figure out who you want to be around and who you don't. The people passing those judgments often don't understand that they themselves are also under scrutiny.

12. I'm always open to meeting new people, am very approachable and not hard to track down online. So if you feel compelled to contact me, by all means do. There are links to all of my relevant social media on www.leemellor.com

Lee Mellor was born in the United Kingdom and raised in southern Ontario. The author of Cold North Killers: Canadian Serial Murder (Dundurn Press, 2012), he is also a noted singer-songwriter. Currently, he is the pursuing a PhD in the study of multicide and sexual violence at Concordia University, where he holds a B.A. in history.

For more information about Rampage: Canadian Mass Murder and Spree Killing please visit the Dundurn website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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