I haven’t been doing a ton of reading in the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been doing anything particularly constructive though, either. What I have been doing though, is binge listening to tons of podcasts.
Now, I’m not saying that listening to podcasts isn’t constructive. There’s a ton of great shit out there, man. It’s just that usually when people listen to stuff like podcasts or audiobooks or whatever, they are doing something else.
Maybe they’re on the bus, or driving, or walking, or cleaning, or cooking, or literally anything else. But me? I’m usually just curled up on the couch with earbuds in and eyes closed.
What podcasts have I been listening to? Thanks for asking!
First I was listening to Lore. Lore is this great podcast about myths, legends, and folklore. Writer and producer Aaron Mahnke brings eerie tales to life in his oddly soothing voice. Then I was listening to S-Town, the new podcast from the makers of Serial and This American Life. When I finished that, I moved onto the CBC’s Someone Knows Something and listened to the first season. Then… I started listening to My Favorite Murder. (And yes, it hurts me to MISSPELL “favourite,” leaving out the “u.” But they’re Americans—I can hardly blame them).
My Favorite Murder is the greatest thing. Two really cool comedians, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, shoot the breeze for a while then discuss their favorite murders. It’s all very fun and chill, and then super weird and depressing—but all in the best way possible. I’m obsessed and have been binge listening like CRAZY.
On My Favorite Murder, they call fellow like-minded folk—those who are also completely fascinated by murder—muderinos. Well Georgia and Karen, I’m a murderino. Pretty much always have been. But like many of your listeners, I’m sure, I haven’t really publically embraced this before. I thought people would find that creepy and weird. Welp, even if they do, who cares. I mean, f*ck politeness, amirite, murderinos?
I was always interested in creepy stuff. As a kid, I loved anything by R.L. Stine, and I loved the shows based on his books. Some of my other favourite shows were Tales from the Crypt Keeper, Freaky Stories, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? Loved it.
I can pretty much trace my interest in true crime back to 2002. I was 11. A girl only a couple of years older than me, sharing my first name, was all over the news. I couldn’t stop paying attention.
On June 5th, 2002, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City, Utah home. Right out of the bed that she shared with her little sister. From the beginning this story chilled and gripped me. I was following the news—and I was not a news-following 11-year-old.
Your house is supposed to be home base, a safe zone. Your bedroom, especially. But someone just crept into the Smart home and carried off 14-year-old Elizabeth.
When they found her nine months later, everyone was shocked and relieved. In most cases of abduction, the victim is never seen alive again. We knew what happened to her was horrible and that she must have endured some pretty terrible things… But at least she was alive to tell the story.
The books and the shows
Afterward, I sought out fictionalized versions of crime—I used to love watching Cold Case and Without A Trace with my mom (now it’s Criminal Minds). I would watch all the CSIs and chat about them with my fellow preteen friends. I would also watch A&E on the sly—devouring episodes of The First 48 and Cold Case Files. Even then I felt that there was something a little odd about being obsessed with murderers and crime. When it came to books, I read every Mary Higgins Clark book I could get my hands on.
I was always particularly obsessed with historical mysteries and cold cases. I would spend hours reading about the Grand Duchess Anastasia. When I’s tell everyone about it, most people only found it vaguely interesting. I loved the story of The Princes in the Tower, and, with the aid of Philippa Gregory, I am convinced it was a Tudor conspiracy!!!
In high school, I started getting into serial killers. I read The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson and again, told everyone about it. H.H. HOLMES, GUYS. Nobody cared and everyone thought I was weird. I was like, guys! But it’s in this cool book! But nope. I was a lonely murderino and stopped telling people about stuff. Which was especially hard for me because I talk a lot.
When Elizabeth Smart’s memoir came out in 2013, I was so excited. I couldn’t believe I was going to get to read about this in her own words. When I mentioned to my friends that it was coming out, no one ever remembered the kidnapping. The only people who vaguely recalled it where people who were adults at the time, like my parents. I guess I was the only 11-year-old in my neighbourhood gobbling up freaky news stories?
I’m not that weird
The more I listen to My Favorite Murder, the more I feel vindicated in my interests. See? There are more people like me! I’m not that weird!
In the past year or so I’ve also become more into feminism and feminist thought. This lens helps me get even more interesting shit out of this podcast. Women seems to make up the majority of the listeners. Women love this shit, guys.
But why? I find that so interesting. The things that get pondered in regard to this question interest me immensely. Like, women think about murder more often because we are constantly in fear of being victims. In learning about murderers, what they do, and how to protect ourselves, we are reclaiming these stories and our fear. SUCH AN INTERESTING THEORY, OMG.
And like Karen and Georgia say, f*ck politeness. Women have been socialized to be polite and not stir up trouble. But when your gut tells you something is off, don’t worry about being polite and appeasing the creepy stranger. Scream now, apologize later if they end up being a normal person. It’s better than getting murdered.
So remember, guys:
Stay Sexy. Don’t Get Murdered.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.