Interview With Author Eve Lazarus

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m a reporter, author of nine books and the host and producer of the Cold Case Canada podcast. I fell in love with my city’s murky underbelly on a trip to the Vancouver Police Museum and Archives in the 1990s. Axe murders, murder by milkshake, Vancouver’s first triple murder—it was all there. I’ve tried to give those true crime exhibits new life by talking to law enforcement, relatives and friends, digging up never-seen-before photos and documents, and wherever possible, giving the victims back their voice. I run the Facebook group Cold Case Canada where people share their thoughts, and in a best-case scenario, find leads that could help solve a murder.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

For the purposes of this interview, I’ll pick two of my true crime books:

Murder by Milkshake: an astonishing true story of adultery, arsenic, and a charismatic killer, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018

In 1965, Rene Castellani, a radio personality with CKNW, decided to murder his wife Esther so he could marry Lolly, the station’s 25-year-old receptionist. He poisoned Esther with arsenic in her food and milkshakes over several months, and, if not for Esther’s doctor who was determined to find out how she died, he would have got away with it. The couple had an 11-year-old daughter called Jeannine, who became the collateral damage. Much of the book tells the story from Jeannine’s perspective before, during and after the murder took place.

Blood, Sweat, and Fear: the story of Inspector Vance, Vancouver’s first forensic investigator, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017

Inspector John Vance was one of the first forensic scientists to work for a police department in North America when he started in 1907. He was known internationally as Canada’s Sherlock Holmes. During his 42-year career, he helped detectives solve some of the most sensational murder cases of the 20th century. Vance was constantly called to crime scenes and to testify in court because of his skills in serology, toxicology, ballistics, trace evidence and autopsy. In the course of my research I was able to uncover several boxes of his notes, crime scene photos, a diary and newspaper clippings that have been packed away since his retirement in 1949.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I find visiting the scene of whatever I’m working on really helps to inspire my writing. That could be a trip to a murder scene for a true crime book, scouring an old building, a tunnel or a neighbourhood for a history book. The more I can physically touch something and experience it, the easier it is for me to show my readers what I’m writing about.

# How do you deal with writers block?

I don’t believe in writer’s block for non-fiction writers. If you’re staring at a blank page, it means you haven’t done enough research. Go visit the places you’re writing about. Dig into the archives, the special collections department of your public library, look at photos. And if you’ve exhausted all of those things, then get out and interview more people who can give you first-hand accounts of your subject.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

In 2019, I turned my book Blood, Sweat, and Fear: The Story of Inspector Vance into a podcast. I found that I loved everything about the medium—producing, hosting and editing and I’m now into my second season of Cold Case Canada, a true crime podcast based on my book Cold Case Vancouver. Writing for listeners rather than readers is a completely different process. Now I’m constantly thinking in terms of writing in scenes with strong characters and place – with place often taking the role of a character. In other words, using all the tools of a fiction writer to hopefully improve the experience for my readers.

# What are your plans for future books?

I’m currently working on a sequel to Cold Case Vancouver. It’s called Cold Case BC and will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2022.



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