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Diary of a Predator: A Memoir Wins An Independent Publisher Book Award

It was gratifying news: Diary of a Predator: A Memoir has been selected as a silver medalist in the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the category “Best Adult Non-Fiction Personal E-Book.”

Altogether, there were 382 medals awarded out of 5,200 entries, so I’m honored by the distinction. And it’s further testament that Diary is not just about the case of serial rapist Brent Brents; rather, it’s a very personal account of how my life was changed forever after being assigned that story.

https://i0.wp.com/www.independentpublisher.com/images/ippy_silvermedal_LR.jpg

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Reader Question: Isn’t There Something That Can Be Done?

This thought-provoking message was sent to this website earlier this week after its author read my book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, which is the true-crime account of the case of serial rapist Brent Brents:

I could not put the book down, read it so fast probably didn’t digest it well.  What heart break and the amount of victims is just unbelievable.  As an entire country, isn’t there something that can be done on the education of children and parents to GENERATE solid parenting?  So much anger and hurt.  Maybe Brents emulated what he felt, experienced, and felt, but at least 2 generations before his are the responsible parties, for the constant abuse that was rained on he and his siblings.  Just find it hard to imagine people live, work, and socialize daily, go home and beat and rape each other  and their children!  It must change!!

  -Nancy

 

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Diary of a Predator Reader: “malicious evil acts…it Has to come from somewhere”

Note from Amy: A visitor sent two messages after reading Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, my true-crime account of serial rapist Brent Brents and the effects covering that case had on me. I combined them and am posting them here because she is exactly the sort of person I wrote Diary for. I love knowing that folks like her exist.

Amy,
Thank you for taking the time to write this moving and very real story. Fortunately, I do not have a disturbing past or work in an industry with those who do. I actually love my life and love my career. However, I was able to relate to you on 2 levels – spending more time working than with my two children and husband and the fact that I, too, believe everybody has a source of reference -some much worse than others.

I recommended this book to all of my friends on Facebook in an effort to help bring more awareness to the source of such evil that exists in our world. Thank you again. You are brave and I have an immense amount of respect for you.

As much as I wish I was an avid reader, I’m not.  It takes a lot to hold my attention and I couldn’t put your book down.  Trust me, this speaks volumes about you as a writer on so many levels.  I absolutely believe without a doubt “he is a victim of our society as much as his victims are also a victim of society, he being the channel for the sickness to move through.”  This is very sad and very true.  I, too, believe he is a good soul, yet broken.

How did I learn about your book?  I just bought a kindle not long ago and like many, I enjoy the conveniences technology has provided so I am able to buy books at the click of a button. 🙂   The title captured my interest and the fact that it has 4 1/2 stars.  For whatever reason I gravitate to the darker autobiographies for the sheer fact that I am intrigued as to “why” these people do what they do – malicious evil acts…….it Has to come from somewhere.

Thank you again for writing this book.  I finished yesterday and so far several of my friends are looking forward to the journey.  As you might expect there are those who are afraid.  I have made it clear that it’s a dark journey with an uplifting twist so they had nothing to fear.

Sincerely,

Stacy Kendall

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A Dream Realized: Barnes & Noble Book Stores Now Carrying Diary of Predator: A Memoir

Diary of a Predator: A Memoir at Barnes & Noble

Diary of a Predator: A Memoir is now available at Barnes & Noble book stores, such as this location in Boulder, Colo. | Photo by Amy Herdy

When I first started working on the true-crime book about serial rapist Brent Brents that became Diary of a Predator: A Memoir my husband told me he would no longer go to bookstores with me.

The reason? I would walk past some of the trite or atrocious titles on the shelves and start to feel depressed. It wasn’t that I thought Diary of a Predator was so much better; I was just convinced it had a story–and a message–that was worthwhile, and I fretted the book would never get a chance.

I hoped, but did not expect, that I would see it on the shelf of a major bookstore. Publishing statistics show there are more than 100,000 new books published every year, yet most bookstore chains (like Barnes & Noble) stock only a fraction of them–about 10,000 titles.

So I was very happily shocked when I got a call from a buyer for Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. She said they planned to put Diary of a Predator: A Memoir in some of their top true-crime-selling stores around the country.

One such store is in Boulder, at 30th and Pear Street. I visited it the other day, and sure enough, there was Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, right on the shelf in the “True Crime” section.  It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when looking at my book there on the shelf. Diary of a Predator: A Memoir is the culmination of a career covering crime and out of that, the five years I devoted to the stubborn notion that this book would inspire and educate people.

And that’s the most gratifying part of all:  Hearing from folks that reading this book left them wanting to be a better person, or spread some good in the world.

So thank you, Barnes & Noble, for helping to get Diary of a Predator: A Memoir out there.

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Gods Green earth is fair Game

I’m including an except below from serial rapist Brent Brents’ journal that’s in my book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, because of its chilling self description.

But first, something from James Gilligan: “The living dead.”

-That’s a term for violent men from the book, Violence: Reflections On A National Epidemic, by James Gilligan, M.D., and it resonates with me because it’s similar to how Brent Brents describes himself.

Gilligan, who directed the Center for the Study of Violence at Harvard Medical School, is the former medical director of the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane and was director of mental health for the Massachusetts prison system.

To call violent prison inmates “the living dead” is not a metaphor he invented, Gilligan says in his book; rather, it’s a summary of how the men describe themselves, that they cannot feel anything, that their souls are dead.

He goes on to write, “They have dead souls because their souls were murdered. How did it happen?”

The answer, Gilligan says, was “a degree of violence and cruelty…in childhood…so extreme and unusual that it gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘child abuse.'”

Which is exactly how Brent Brents was created–horrific and habitual child abuse. And it doesn’t excuse his actions, but it certainly helps explain them, and understanding violence takes us one step closer toward preventing it.

As for the self description written by Brent Brents, I begin the start of nearly every chapter of  Diary of a Predator: A Memoir with an excerpt from one of his letters or from his journal (which is also featured in large portions throughout the rest of the book). This is at the start of chapter One, A Hunter at Work:

I could easily be Bundy i think he had the same fucked up
brain the release was never Achievable. What realy hurts me
deep is that there are a few things and people I can sincerely
care for and love and would never hurt but the rest of Gods
Green earth is fair Game. I am truly a fucked up dangerous
person and were the opportunities to present themselves I
would act. It hurts me to admit this. I am sorry for hurting
all those other people, Truly but how can i be any kind of
Good or decent if i cant stop my mind from Working Like it
does. I look back to when i was a kid and i realy think i went
crazy. Death is the only solution to this.
—From Brent’s journal

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One Survivor to Another: There are People Affected by Your Honesty and Amazing Courage

I received the following message to this website, Diary of a Predator, only yesterday. The television show the writer refers to is “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” which featured an episode on the case of serial rapist Brent Brents called “Beyond Redemption.” :

Name: Joni
Comment: Ms. Herdy

Since first seeing the “Beyond Redemption” television show and having seen it several times since then, I’m compelled to contact you in the hope you can advise me how to proceed.

I read on your blog how respectful you are of Brent Brent’s victims and I’m so impressed by that. The last thing I want to do is cause m0re pain for any of them. This is why I need your help.

There was an Hispanic woman who was a victim of Brents’ that bravely went on the show. One thing she said effected me greatly and that I’ve never been able to forget. She was describing her feelings after the assault, one of which was “I feel stupid.” Like so many others, I have an assault in my past and I never used “stupid” to name my feelings.

But as soon as I heard her say it, I connected with her so strongly. Her affect was very, very flat and I wondered if she’d had counseling. Even now I cry for her.

What I’d like her to know more than anything is that she was never stupid, never deserving of the assault and that I know that profoundly. I will always remember her and wish her well. However, I would never want to force this contact on her or be hurtful or thoughtless.

Can you tell me the best way to proceed? If there is no way to let her know this, I accept that. I just want her to know that there are people out there who she has affected with her honesty and amazing courage.

Thank you so much for your bravery as well. You’ve taken a lot of criticism for your association with Brents.

Sincerely-Joni

So I made a phone call, and then I wrote her back.

Dear Joni,

That was a very kind and thoughtful letter.

You are referring to Margaret, and I still stay in touch with her. And your letter was so touching that I immediately called her and asked if  she wanted to know what it said, and she said yes. So I read it to her.

She was very touched. She still has a lot of fear about talking to people she doesn’t know, so she wasn’t comfortable emailing you back, but she wanted me to give you this message:

“It was really nice of you to remember me after all this time. Sometimes I feel very disconnected, and your letter made me realize I’m not so alone.

What happened to me was awful, but along the way I’ve met a lot of nice people.”

As for my being brave, well, I truly think it’s folks like Margaret-and you–who take the time to connect with others who are the brave ones.

I don’t know if you’ve read the book, but I have a long section in there about Margaret, because she taught me a lot about forgiveness.

Thank you for writing.

Amy

Bearing witness to that compassionate exchange between those two amazing women helps reinforce my faith in humanity.

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He found one of his victims

I was chugging through my day today when a message was sent to this website, Diary of a Predator, that stopped me in my tracks:

“So this morning i woke up, and thought ‘valentines day’ then thought ‘ugh. Brent Brents’.  I did a search and found your site & book.
7 years ago today i had my near-brush with him…  I had just gotten back in town from a vacation and had no idea there was a serial rapist in denver/cap-hill.  It was valentines day and I was driving to my boyfriends house with a gift and expecting to have dinner.
I cut through the neighborhood behind Cheesman, and stopped at a 4-way-stop like no other.  The victimized grandmother flagged me down and i let her in my car, and that night turned into something crazy..  As you know BB affected a lot of people, even me.. my world was messed up and i left that night scared, upset, and mad at myself for not doing or trying to do any more that night.. I hate valentines day, and i know why.  But i don’t dare complain too much because what i went through doesn’t compare to what any of the victims went through.  i’ll never forgive myself for not doing more.
I guess the point of my email is to ask if you know if the Grandmother and 2 grand-daughters are ok now?

Alain”

And I replied:

“Hi, Alain,

My first reaction to your note was, Bless your heart. And yes, he certainly did affect a lot of people, and I can certainly understand that you’ve never forgotten that night. That’s a very traumatic experience. And it doesn’t take away from anything any of the victims went through to acknowledge that. You don’t have to have the traumatic event happen to you in order to be deeply affected by it–there is such a thing as secondary post traumatic stress disorder, and that comes from witnessing someone go through a horrible event. It sounds like you did everything you could to help the grandmother, and that there’s some “survivor’s guilt” there. Just my observation.

To answer your question, no, I don’t know how the grandmother and two girls are doing today–while I was still at the Post, the family declined contact, and I respected that with the book, feeling that to contact them would be invading their privacy.  I let the Denver DA’s office know before the website went up and the book came out so that they could give the victims a “heads up” about it. I do stay in touch with one of his victims, a woman from Aurora named Margaret, and life is a struggle for her every day. So yes, there’s a lot of residual damage.

It’s all so very sad.”

-And then I asked Alain if I could post his comment, and he gave me permission. And he ended his email with this:

“And ignore the haters that are mad at you for trying to understand BB, you really are giving the world a better insight to why people become what they are.  Understanding & knowledge are power to change the future.”

-And so I’m left with this thought: Bless your heart, Alain. And thank you.

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Was His Father Also Abused?

After I asked the question, Is Being a Sociopath a Choice? in the previous blog, I received the following question to this website  about serial rapist Brent Brents:

Do you know his father’s history? Was he also a victim of abuse? It’s an interesting subject. I once heard that a majority of hard core criminals had fetal alcohol poisoning.

–Connie

The answer: I have a limited amount of information regarding Brent Brent’s father’s history.  According to Brent, his father told him once that he had been sexually as well as physically abused as a child.

Brent’s half sister, Shelley, who was removed from the home after her father (the same man, a different marriage) abused her and her younger brother, David, says she gathered family history from two aunts who told her that severe abuse on her father’s side had begun generations before.

I’m inclined to believe he was abused, and that it contributed to his taking out his rage upon his children. If you know anything about patterns, you know they often repeat themselves.  A sad legacy.

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Is Being a Sociopath a Choice?

Someone recently said this about my book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, which is about my experience covering the case of serial rapist Brent Brents:

“Yes, he had a troubled childhood, however so many others do and don’t become a sociopath.”

That line started me thinking: Does someone choose to become a sociopath?  I started looking up research, which points to three factors that contribute to someone being a sociopath:

1. Genetics. Where Brents is concerned, that’s a check. Records and accounts from family members indicate that Brents’ father was a violent, sadistic man. The two children from his second marriage were removed from the home because of his abuse, and Brents and his brother, the product of his father’s third marriage, were removed from the home but records show Brents was returned for unknown reasons.

2. Brain abnormality, either caused from genetics or brain injury. Check. When he was 12, Brents suffered a left orbital blowout fracture (his left eye socket was crushed) and he had seizures ever since.  Research indicates that a sociopath’s brain is different from a normal brain–that it has little activity in the orbital cortex, the area of the brain that controls behavior.

3. Child abuse. Check. Brents’ severe, systematic abuse at the hands of his father is documented in medical records.

I’m not saying these factors are an excuse for the violence Brents upon others. He still ultimately made choices.  But perhaps it could explain why someone like Brents demonstrated such violence and  a lack of empathy–because his brain was predisposed toward it, lacked the ability to recognize the consequences of it on others and the abuse inflicted upon him was his model.

 

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Writing Diary of a Predator: A Memoir

Part three:

When writing a non-fiction book, at some point it’s a good idea to show a draft of it to people who are experts on the topics you’re covering. Since my book was true crime, I figured the best constructive criticism I could get would be from cops.

Actually, I didn’t have much hope as far as the “constructive” part. Since the main storyline of the book centered on the case of a serial rapist (Brent Brents) I expected the conversations to go something like this:

“No, I didn’t read it. And why the hell would you want to write about that sonofabitch?”

Still, I called on four screening candidates; two in Tampa (where I used to live), and two in Denver. A homicide detective, a street cop who was now a private detective, a narcotics detective and a vice detective.

I emailed the first chapter and the summaries of the rest, now filled out by notes, and braced myself for a flurry of contempt, like I was proposing a tax increase on the upper bracket to a room full of Republicans.

Instead, much to my surprise, the reaction was curiosity and encouragement.

“It’s pretty good,” said the street-cop-turned-private-detective. “You need more detail about what he looks like in that first scene,  though.”

“Good for you!” said the vice cop. “I thought it was interesting.”

“Are you alright?” asked the homicide detective on the phone. He called me immediately after reading a section that detailed the emotional difficulties of covering the case. “Yes, that was years ago!” I told him.

And the biggest compliment came from the narcotics detective, who said he was intrigued by the revelations about how Brents’ mind worked, but that he found the parts about the life of a reporter the most fascinating of all.

“You work the same way we do–it’s just you’re going after a story and not the arrest,” he said to me in surprise.  And then he added the line that at this point I was used to hearing: “Put more of you and the reporter stuff in there.”

So I did. And about the time I started thinking things were taking shape and the story was really coming together, I got a call from someone who wanted me to write a different book altogether.

To be continued…

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