Friday, May 24, 2013

'Soul Destruction' Author Draws Inspiration From A London Call Girl

In our ongoing series of WCI interviews, we're talking today with Ruth Jacobs, a novelist who lives near London, about her life as a writer. Jacobs studied prostitution in the late 1990s. She draws on her research and the women she has interviewed for inspiration. In addition to her fiction writing, Jacobs is involved in nonfiction for charity and human rights campaigning in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking.

Women in Crime Ink: Welcome, Ruth. Tell us about your writing background. When did you begin writing, and what inspired you?

Ruth Jacobs: My grandmother was a writer and I’m sure that’s what made me want to write. I wrote poetry as a young teenager then started writing a book at sixteen. I wrote on and off over the years, but it wasn’t until 2010 when I started the first Soul Destruction book that I actually went on to complete my first novel.  That was Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, which was published earlier this year. Last year, I published In Her Own Words... Interview with a London Call Girl, which is the transcript of a video interview I undertook with a woman working as a call girl in London for my research on prostitution in the late 1990s. The woman interviewed was a very dear friend, and as she is no longer alive, all the royalties from that publication are donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity working to end sexual exploitation.

WCI: How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?

RJ: For my fiction writing, I don’t have a fixed time currently, but that’s about to change as I get back into writing the second book in the Soul Destruction series. When I was working on the first book, I had a schedule of writing every evening. It was difficult with two children and a job, but I found the time by keeping the television switched off. I was also completely hooked on my characters and their world, and I couldn’t stay away for long because when I wasn’t writing about them, I was obsessing about them and the story.

WCI: In which genre do you most enjoy writing?

RJ: Crime fiction.

WCI: What draws you to write in that genre?

RJ: It’s the genre I most enjoy reading and having been on a death wish from my teens to mid-twenties, my past can be useful sometimes.

WCI: What is your current project(s)?

With author Harry Dunn
RJ: My novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, was published earlier this year by Caffeine Nights. The story follows Shelley Hansard, a heroin addicted and crack psychotic London call girl who gets the opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends.

WCI: What has the reaction been to your book from readers?

RJ: The feedback has been great with many readers telling me they were unable to put the book down. Other comments have included the book being real and graphic, having a fast-paced plot, unexpected twists, that the story is told in a compassionate way, and that it takes the false glamour out of prostitution.

WCI: What are two of your favorite books, and why?

RJ: Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting is one, but after countless failed overdoses and with posttraumatic stress disorder, my memory is so terrible that I can’t recall precisely why. I would have enjoyed the Scottish dialect because all my family come from Scotland, and I would have also enjoyed the story as that was my world at the time - heroin addiction. For a second book, I’m compelled to say London Fields by Martin Amis who I was obsessed with reading many years ago. Again, with my poor memory, I cannot remember why (Trainspotting was at an advantage as I’ve watched the film countless times over the years), but because of my poor memory and because after so long I remember the name of a character, Nicola Six, that book must have impacted me. I must reread it soon.

WCI: What are your writing plans for the future?

RJ: I’m about to pick back up writing the second book in the Soul Destruction series. It has a title but in case it changes, I’m not sharing it yet. From my experience writing the first book and being led away from my original plot by the characters, I know that could happen in this book too and, if it does, then the title might need to be changed.

I’m involved in non-fiction for charity and human rights campaigning, currently pushing for the Merseyside model to be made UK wide. This will mean all crimes against people in prostitution will be treated as hate crimes. Where it has been running in Merseyside since 2006, reporting and conviction rates have increased hugely. I’ve written a couple of articles about the Merseyside model for feminist websites including Ms Blog, and I’m currently running a series of interviews on my own website.

I have an article to write for an anthology on prostitution so I will be making a start on that project in the summer. A short piece of non-fiction I wrote is being published soon in The Survivor Anthology. And a short story I wrote called Life will be published as an e-book by Caffeine Nights in the next week or two.

WCI: Is there anything else we should know?

RJ: Although I write fiction, my work is very real. It’s important to me when writing about prostitution that it isn’t glamorized as it so often is in other books, films and on television. I want to show it for what it is - a dangerous and traumatic way to earn money. Most women in prostitution have been abused as children. Most women in prostitution have suffered rape multiple times. And most women in prostitution meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. I share many similarities in this, and I hope that enables me to keep my characters real, and my stories true to life. That’s very important to me.

WCI: Where can readers learn more about you and your writing?

RJ: On the Soul Destruction website and on my author website.

Ruth Jacobs' series of novels, titled Soul Destruction, expose the dark world and the harsh reality of life as a call girl. Her debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, was released in April 2013 by Caffeine Nights. It is a free download on Amazon today, April 24th, through Monday, April 27th. Click here to download.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Juan Martinez: A Prosecutor's Success

by Women In Crime Ink

As the jury determines in the next few days whether convicted killer Jodi Arias should serve life in prison or get the death penalty, we thought we'd take a look back at this sensational case and voice our opinions on what went right.

If you've followed the case, you know that after a four-month trial, 32-year-old Arias was convicted of killing ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in his Phoenix townhouse. It was a particularly grizzly murder, with Arias stabbing Alexander 29 times, most of which were in the back, slitting his throat, and shooting him once in the head. Alexander, 30, didn't stand a chance.

While the final phase of the trial -- the sentencing -- winds down, this seems like the perfect time to take a look back and ask this question:

During the trial, what did Deputy District Attorney Juan Martinez do best to win a guilty verdict?

Here's what some of our WCI bloggers had to say:

Donna Pendergast: The facts in the Jodi Arias case speak for themselves. In terms of a prosecution case, it doesn't get much better than this. Her story of self defense was negated by the physical evidence, her false statements and her manipulative testimony, which came across as very calculated.

Jurors are not stupid and they don't like to be played like they are. Although we have seen a few high-profile cases in the news where the verdict seemingly was inconsistent with the evidence, in most circumstances jurors try to do the right thing. They saw right through Jodi Arias and delivered a verdict consistent with the overwhelming evidence. As a prosecutor, I think that Juan Martinez overdid the histrionics, but I can't quarrel with success.

Gina Simmons: Jurors had a chance to witness Jodi Arias lie frequently and with incredible detail over a long period of time. Psychopaths can create detailed pictures with their lies. These self-serving pictures can appear so convincing that jurors might find it hard to believe that they were completely created from imagination. Jurors got a close-up view of a pathological liar. Psychologically, this close-up view might make it difficult for some jurors to give her the death penalty. 

Robin Sax: If this case shows anything at all it's that the public (even post-OJ) has an insatiable appetite for a good crime story. This had it all: Sex, lies, photos, and a frighteningly smart narcissistic defendant. While Juan Martinez was certainly passionate, he did not make the same mistakes many high-profile prosecutors have made in the past, and that is he didn't drink his own Kool Aid. He spent the time proving each element, painting a picture, and presenting a strong case. Of course, Jodi helped with unbelievable lies, horrific evidence and narcissism that spoke volumes.

Katherine Scardino: As a defense attorney, I agree that this was a dream case for the prosecution. I would have handled her defense in a much more realistic manner. First of all, she would never have spent a minute on the stand much less 19 days. Bad lawyering for her. But seems like Guilty verdict is the right one.

Cathy Scott: The interesting thing in this case was how Martinez brought the pieces of the puzzle together for the jury in his closing. Some things he brought out didn't make sense during the trial, at least to me, until he laid it all out in the end. It was brilliant, and it worked.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Excerpt: UK Writer Ruth Jacobs Pens Debut Novel, 'Soul Destruction'

Ruth Jacobs writes a series of novels which expose the dark world and harsh reality of life as a call girl.

Below is an excerpt of Jacob's debut novel Soul Destruction: Unforgivable (released April 29 by Caffeine Nights), which takes readers into the bleak existence of a call girl haunted by the atrocities of her childhood.

In the spring of 1997, Shelley Hansard is a drug addict with a heroin habit and crack psychosis. Her desirability as a top London call girl is waning. During this tumultuous time, she is presented with an opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her and her friends. But in her unbalanced state of mind, can she stop a serial rapist?

Excerpt from Chapter One - The Dead John

“There’s only one kind of dead, the not moving and the not breathing kind, and that’s the kind of dead he is.” Despite her hysteria, Shelley Hansard tried to whisper on the phone from The Lanesborough.

“Not necessarily.” Marianne’s voice squeaked down the line. “Just because things seem a certain way, it doesn’t mean they are.”

“Sometimes it does. Sometimes things are exactly as they seem – and right now, this is one of those fucking times.” Shelley sat rocking on the edge of the bed in the Regency-styled suite. “I’m telling you, he fucking died on me.”

“You’re not a doctor. You can’t go around pronouncing people dead.”

“If you don’t believe me, get off the line and I’ll call someone else.”

“Don’t you dare. You don’t tell anyone. Do you understand? You come straight here.”

Marianne grunted. “Have you got the money?”

“What the fuck does that matter now?” A hot tear landed on Shelley’s thigh.

“Get a grip, Kiki. Start acting like a professional.”

Fighting the urge to look at the motionless body spread-eagled next to her, Shelley pushed herself up from the bed. Her neatly folded suit lay by her feet. She stood, staring down, burrowing her toes into the plush carpet. She knew she should get dressed, but clean clothes didn’t belong on skin that felt unclean.

Taking a step towards the bathroom, she felt unbalanced. Her legs shuddered and her backside hit the floor. Reunited with her brown, pinstripe suit, she reached for her skirt. With trembling hands, she dragged it towards her. Shuffling on her back, she shimmied into it. Her fingers grappled with the hook and eye. Making a hasty exit was important, but making an exception to her rule was impossible. She couldn’t do it.

She managed to stand but, stepping out of her skirt, she collapsed again. Pressing down on the carpet with her palms, she tried to lever herself back up. Her jolting arms gave way. The last limbs to surrender to the convulsionary rhythm that had overtaken the rest of her. 

She didn’t have control over her body. Instead, she had a helpless feeling of being completely powerless. The rush to leave the hotel and the corpse was over. As a periodic convulsionist, she knew the beat could monopolise her for hours. She just had to wait. She knew what to expect. Soon she’d be gone.


On regaining consciousness, her shaking had reduced. She staggered to the walnut bureau where earlier she’d left her handbag, took out her mobile and checked the time: nearly midnight. Two hours lost to another world.

Slipping the mobile back inside her cream handbag, she shut her eyes, realizing what she’d done. She’d called Marianne from the phone in the hotel suite. Under the circumstances, that wasn’t the phone she should have used.

After a shower, with hair wet, she dripped a track back to the bed. She dressed, trying not to look to her right but as she buttoned her jacket, she couldn’t help it. She breathed in deeply, as if inhalation through her nose would draw the tears back through her ducts from whence they’d sprung.

Quietly, she said aloud, “God bless you.”

What was his name? She tried to remember. She couldn’t. She didn’t know him, not in a real sense, only biblically. The last few hours they’d spent fornicating, high on a combination of crack and GHB. In the midst of proceedings, he’d complained of a chest pain. So, when he asked her to make him another pipe, she refused. On gently reminding her who was paying for the evening, and whose desires were to be met, he took the crack pipe from her hands and on the ash-covered foil, prepared himself a rock. The rock that would emerge to be the last ever smoked by the late, greying-blond john.

“Come to me, you... you... you nymph,” he said, beckoning to her as he exhaled his final pipe. “Come over here and pleasure me— my penis. I mean, pleasure my penis. Would you, with your mouth, please?” The client reclined on the bed, unaware that his last words had just been spent on a bungled request for fellation. And from a young woman whose name he didn’t know – at least, not her real name.

Some time in, Shelley became aware that the penis in her mouth was lifeless. She stopped to look up and saw the fixed expression on his face. It wasn’t changing. He wasn’t moving. He looked like a waxwork from Madame Tussauds.

“What are you doing?” she asked, prodding his chest. “Stop fucking around,” she shouted through the hairs in his ear.

After a vigorous shaking failed to extract even the slightest reaction, she put her fingers under his nostrils. He wasn’t breathing. That was when she called Marianne.

About the Author

Jacobs, who lives in a small village in Hertfordshire, England, studied prostitution in the late 1990s, which sparked her interest in prostitution. For the series, she draws on her research and the women she interviewed for inspiration. She also has firsthand experience of many of the topics she writes about, including post-traumatic stress disorder, rape, and drug and alcohol addiction. In addition to her fiction writing, Jacobs is involved in non-fiction for charity and human rights campaign work in the areas of anti-sexual exploitation and anti-human trafficking. She profiles writers in an online column “In the Booth With Ruth.”

Soul Destruction: Unforgivable is in stores now and available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bodyguard for Murdered Rap Artist Tupac Shakur Has Died

Courtesy of

Frank Alexander, a bodyguard for the late rapper Tupac Shakur, has passed away.

Alexander was in a car directly behind Tupac and his record producer, Suge Knight, in September 1996 near the Las Vegas Strip when Tupac was shot. A passenger in a white Cadillac pulled next to Suge and Tupac’s BMW, opened fire, hitting Tupac and grazing Knight.

Six days later, Tupac died from a chest wound. Suge, who was admitted to the hospital for treatment, was released the morning after the shooting. Frank two years later co-wrote the book Got Your Back, about his time on tour with Pac.

I got to know Frank over the years and spent time with him during the taping of the documentary Before I Wake and Tupac: Assassination, which Frank executive produced.

One of the coolest gigs Frank and I had together was on August 18, 2002, when we both appeared on comedian Kevin Nealon’s show “The Conspiracy Zone,” where Nealon, according to the show’s site, hosted “expert panelists discussing popular conspiracy theories.” The topic in this case was Tupac’s murder. On the show with us were comedians Kathy Griffin and Christopher Reid.

The oddest thing that evening was during the taping, which was in Burbank with a studio audience, when another guest, who'd also written a book about the Tupac case, publicly called me “a hack.” In writing vernacular, it was meant as an insult. It came out of nowhere, and I’d never met this guy before, so everybody but the name-caller cracked up laughing, including Frank.

On camera, Kevin Nealon turned to me and said, “I couldn’t tell, Cathy. Was he kidding?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered, and Kevin laughed along with us.

Kathy Griffin cracked a joke about it as well, and then the show continued. It was a lively discussion, and the episode was well received.

Afterward, we all went into the Green Room to eat the spread that Kraft Services had set up for us. Frank, with a group of friends, stayed, as did I. Christopher Reid (formerly known as Kid) was fun to talk with; he had mad respect for Tupac.

The irritated author, in the meantime, practically ran out the studio and through the Green Room, stopping only to ask where his driver was, before heading through a back door to the parking lot. We all laughed again, because it seemed so odd.

Frank was in a good mood that night, as were the rest of us – except for the out-of-sorts author (who will remain unnamed). I thought of Frank at the time as on top of his game. His book, co-written with author and journalist Heidi Coder, had been released in June 1998. And it was re-released in paperback a couple years later. In recent years, he’d worked on indie documentaries while working as a security guard.

I interviewed Frank in 1997 for the first edition of my book, The Killing of Tupac Shakur, and again for the second edition in 2002. About Tupac's murder, Frank told me, "I want to see the shooter brought to justice.” That never happened, despite the wide belief and law enforcement intelligence that points to Southside Crips as responsible for the rapper's death.

Frank Alexander passed away the afternoon of April 28 in his Southern California home. According to the Murrieta Police Department, investigators determined that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. The police investigation determined, per incident report No. 1304M-6390 and interviews and evidence at the scene, it was death by suicide. A formal autopsy was scheduled. But a police source close to the investigation told me, “The autopsy is just a formality in our determination. It was a suicide.”

An administrator with site, says the loss is a personal one: “Big Frank was my friend and brother. We ate together, prayed together, told jokes and kicked it. He used to say, ‘It’s not how long you know a person that counts but how well you connect during the experiences you share that really matters.’

"The last conversation we had was very deep, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around our loss. I never in a million years thought I wouldn’t see him again.” summed up the loss for all of us: “Rest in Paradise, Big Frank. ONE LOVE.”