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The Crime Book
Cathy Scott, true crime author of The Killing of Tupac Shakur

Cathy Scott | True Crime Author & Investigative Journalist

We recently caught up with Cathy Scott to chat mobsters, murders, and motives. Cathy is a bestselling true-crime writer and investigative journalist, and author of the books The Killing of Tupac Shakur and The Murder of Biggie Smalls. She is the foreword writer for The Crime Book.


Your work in five words:

Challenging, rewarding, creative, fulfilling, telling.

Three objects you couldn’t do without:

Pen/paper, iPhone, MacBookPro.

Your favorite fictional criminal:

Annie Wilkes from the 1987 novel Misery.

Your books The Killing of Tupac Shakur and The Murder of Biggie Smalls received international attention. What drew you to these cases as a subject?

I've always been drawn to the underdog and, as both a newspaper reporter and an author, I am drawn to unsolved cases. In the Tupac case, the evidence appeared to be there, but the case remained unsolved. So I wrote a book about it to expand what I covered in a newspaper. Then, six months later, Biggie was killed in an eerily similar murder, and it was a natural step to write his biography and murder story as well.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing true crime?

Getting official and legal documents is often a challenge, but one I tackle with passion.

Your career has no doubt given you privileged insights into the workings of the criminal mind. Can you say what makes ordinary people commit extraordinary crimes?

Some people can plod along in life with nothing out of the ordinary happening. But put a unique scenario in their path, something that impedes them, and they can act out in deadly ways. Greed can sometimes be one of the motivators.

 

Who is the most fascinating person you’ve met in your career?

I've had the privilege of meeting and interviewing many fascinating people, including Walter Cronkite, Magic Johnson, Ann Rule, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to name a few. But the person I met and admire the most is Jane Goodall for the lifelong work she has done to protect chimpanzees.

What has been your single strangest day on the job?

A crime scene in 1997 after mobster "Fat Herbie" Blitzstein was murdered. Men with black suits milled around, a departure from seeing homicide cops and CSI workers. The media was barred from getting even within viewing distance of Blitzstein's townhouse and a spokesman did not walk up to the media to give us a briefing. It turned out to be federal agents, under whose jurisdiction murder does not fall. So it was an odd scene, and it turned out that the feds were present because gangland players from a Los Angeles-based crime syndicate had Blitzstein murdered.

The world has changed enormously since the deaths of Tupac and Biggie in the '90s. How do you think social media and the internet are influencing true crime writing now?

Had Tupac and Biggie been killed today, there would be smartphone video of the deadly events, and their crimes would no doubt be solved.

 

What’s your proudest accomplishment?

I'm humbled, and probably proud, of the work I did in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. I worked for four months as an embedded reporter for an animal welfare magazine, which turned into the book Pawprints of Katrina (Wiley). I was in boats and then on the ground, writing about the rescue of 7,000 animals, but also participating in the rescues – a departure from a typical reporting assignment. It was incredibly inspiring working side-by-side with hundreds of volunteers who temporarily left their lives and their families to rescue and take care of other people's pets.

Do you ever get frustrated by unsolved cases?

I don't typically get frustrated, although it can be challenging to land interviews with family members of victims and gather police and court documents, which makes my job tougher. But I love a challenge.

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