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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.

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.


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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Reader: It Will Stay with Me Forever

This comment was sent to me through the Diary of a Predator website just this morning from a woman in the U.K. who read my book, Diary of a Predator: A Memoir. I’m sharing this letter because it underscores exactly why I wrote the book. It’s incredibly gratifying to know people like her exist:

“I just finished reading your book and I have to say it was amazing.  I am very interested in the criminal mind and am sure I have missed my calling as a criminal psychologist/forensic person and this is the book I have been waiting for.  I watch loads of show on serial offenders, loads of psychology, read true crime, etc, and the ‘why’ has always fascinated me.  I found myself laughing at Brent, crying with you, and getting so angry at the reporter who got him put into solitary that it surprised me!!

I would like to thank you for writing this book, for the courage it took both you and Brent Brents to write it and for the compassion you have.  I am a Wiccan and my husband is a Buddhist, and I am filled with empathy for people who others shudder to think how anyone could have.  We are always trying to grow in that way and to use compassion as our compass and you have shown me a new way to do so, you and other people in the book, such as Margaret and Ellen (I think?  woman who lost her daughter in a car crash).  There is always, always, another story underneath the ones we see on the surface and you have proved that in a way that totally surprised me.  I feared he would kill himself before he found something worthy in himself to himself, and that fact surprised me.  I really felt sorrow and sadness for how his life ended up.  And I hope that he continues to grow in the way he was in the book.  To feel that in spite of what he did his life is worth something.

Amazing.  Thanks for writing this book, thanks for showing it from the side of the predator and thanks to Brent for being so honest.  It will stay with me forever, the story and the lesson. Thanks to you both.  Great courage you both displayed.  Amazing.”

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Writing Diary of a Predator: A Memoir

Part two.

When I first started writing the book, I put together the requisite non-fiction book proposal: I wrote the first chapter, summaries of the rest of the chapters, and an overview.  Then, as I said earlier, the interested publisher got fired, my literary agent never called me back and I decided to give the book project a break.

A really long break.

Every once in a while, I’d open up the Word file and peek at the chapter and the summaries.  It was a standard true-crime book, told in narrative fashion, which is my favorite form of writing and one that I learned at the St. Petersburg Times. And slowly, the heavy rock of discouragement lifted, and I started to be drawn back to the book more and more.

The tweaking began.

And since all writers need feedback, I started cautiously asking different people if they’d give their opinions. I eventually got downright bold about it, emailing the entire thing first to my sister, and then to a close friend.

“Not bad,” they both said. “But you need to put more of yourself in it.”

Ak! That’s not what reporters do.  We are classically trained in, Just the facts, ma’am, and we don’t insert ourselves into our stories.

But these were people whose opinions I respected, so I revealed a little more of what it was like to report on that serial rapist case.

And they became like hungry baby birds: “More! More!”

So I did. And the more I revealed, the easier the self disclosure became. Soon it wasn’t enough to just detail the process and the effects of covering this case, I decided that I needed to include some of my history so that the reader would have context for my reactions and choices.

And then I took a deep breath, and gave the bare bones of the book to an audience I was sure would hate it: Cops.

To be continued…

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A Heartening Response to the Initial Book Reading of “Diary of a Predator: A Memoir”

I’m a journalist, so cynicism comes a little too easy.

book signing

The first book signing for Diary of a Predator: A Memoir, held at the Book Cellar in Louisville, Colo.

And I have to admit I was nervous about how “Diary of a Predator: A Memoir” would be received. It’s not just a true crime book; it’s a dual memoir about a serial rapist and my time as a journalist covering his case, and the life-changing effects that had on me. It’s not your everyday kind of memoir.

To say that I reveal personal details in this book is an understatement. But I felt I needed to reveal my history for this story, in addition to the journalistic process, so that the reader would have context as to the impact this case had on my life.

In other words, full disclosure. And that, especially for a journalist who is used to telling other people’s stories and never her own, left me feeling a bit exposed, like I had somehow pulled my heart out of my chest and laid it on the table.

Signing a book at the book reading

Signing a book at the first book reading for "Diary of a Predator: A Memoir"

But it wasn’t my heart, it was my book, and the folks who came to the very first book reading at the Book Cellar in Louisville, Colo. on October 7 proved to me that they not only understood it but welcomed it. I felt supported and gratified beyond description.

Diary of a Predator A Memoir book signing

I give Ellen a hug at the book signing.

There were lots of people I wrote about in the book who showed up, among them, Ellen, whose amazing story is featured in Diary of a Predator: A Memoir.

Meeting someone like her, and continuing to know her,  inspires me. And the fact that she and the others came to listen and support the book warms me, and gives me hope.

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