Saturday, October 22, 2016

John Norman Collins Trolls Strike Back

Early on in my writing of Terror in Ypsilanti, my primary goal was to pay a debt to history and restore the real names of the victims which were changed in the novelized treatment The Michigan Murders. John Norman Collins's name was also changed to mask his identity--a courtesy he does not deserve. Many of the people in law enforcement who worked on these cases and others in the know were dissatisfied with Edward Keyes's version. Too many assumptions and presumptions.

Even John Collins criticized the liberties Keyes took with the descriptions of his family and his motivation for committing these crimes--his mother. Collins claims he never read the Keyes book, but how else could he comment on it? In Terror in Ypsilanti, I went easy on Collins's family. They never killed anybody.

Over the five years it took to research and write this book, I received nasty emails from a number of people using fictitious names. For example, one goes by the handle Disrobing Furball. Some complaints came from Collins acolytes and some from fraternity brothers who took exception with any re-examination of these cases. Some few of these guys have reason to feel uncomfortable. They knew or suspected Collins of these crimes early on but remained silent.

Now that my nonfiction treatment of this subject matter is out, these same people have surfaced on my Amazon book page giving me particularly nasty reviews. They stand out because my reviews are overwhelmingly positive, but these have a distinct pernicious quality and are thinly disguised personal attacks. I would regard their comments more seriously if they were informed, and they had placed their real names on their reviews. But they hide behind pseudonyms. All I can say is consider the source.

In a recent Detroit News article [September 27, 2016], Collins claims he hasn't read my book but is quoted as saying it is "HEARSAY AND SPECULATION." For five years, he has refused to speak or meet with me but uses a go-between when he wants to communicate--knowing I'll get word of it. The woman he has chosen for this duty has been corresponding with Collins for years and speaks with him every Tuesday over the phone for fifteen minutes. She and I have been communicating for the last several years and have developed a cordial relationship.

Last Tuesday, Collins phoned and told her he was "Super Pissed! But my Ypsilanti and Center Line friends have my back." Now, I know the source of the toxic reviews. As an author, criticism comes with the territory, and I expect to get my fair share, but personal attacks are a horse of a different color. I welcome all fair and honest remarks and reviews.

Amazon Terror in Ypsilanti page:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Terror in Ypsilanti Media Exposure--On the Air and On the Net

On October 1, 2016, AM1700 Ypsilanti talk show host Mark Maynard interviewed me about my true crime book Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked. If you were unable to attend one of my recent book talks, this interview is the next best thing. The running length is forty-nine minutes. 

The Saturday Six-Pack with Mark Maynard:

If you don't have a spare hour to listen to my radio interview, Investigation Discovery Crimefeed featured Terror in Ypsilanti in its September online edition. One of my readers put me on to it last week. Here is the link in case you missed it too: 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Drew and Mike's Terror in Ypsilanti Podcast

Corner Brewery book talk in Ypsilanti
Thank you to the people who came out to hear me speak about serial killer John Norman Collins last week. Both of my Ypsilanti venues were standing room only, and I sold out my entire Michigan stockpile of Terror in Ypsilanti books. Many people whose names appear in the book were in attendance--several from law enforcement and many who contributed information vital to the factual telling of these terrible events.

AM 1700 Ypsilanti interview
In addition to my book talks, I was able to land a front page article in The Detroit News reported by Kim Kozloski on September 27, 2016. On the tail end of my tour, I gave two media interviews, one on AM 1700 broadcasting from historic downtown Ypsilanti and the other by popular Detroit area podcasters Drew and Mike.

If you were unable to attend my book talks, you may be interested in listening to the following podcast link. My interview starts one hour and twenty-three minutes into the show.

Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked is available in a quality paperback edition on Amazon and other online retailers. The e-book is also available on Kindle, KOBO, Nook, and other digital formats. Autographed copies can be purchased from my website

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Terror in Ypsilanti - September 2016 Book Talks

Me speaking at Brewed Awakenings in Saline--April 2016.
photo: Ryan M. Place
For anyone who missed this post the first time around, several Terror in Ypsilanti book talks are planned at the end of September for Southern Michigan. If there is enough demand, I will return in the spring and schedule more. Here is what I have scheduled:

  • September 24th - St. Cece's Brewery [6-8 pm], 1426 Bagley Avenue, Detroit, in Corktown. Over 21 only! Sponsored by Book Club of Detroit.
  • September 27th - The Corner Brewery [5-7 pm], 720 Norris Street, Ypsilanti. Over 21 only!
  • September 28th - Adrian District Library [6:30-8:30 pm], 143 E. Maumee Street, Adrian
  • September 29th - Ypsilanti District Library [6-8 pm], 5577 Whittaker Road, Ypsilanti.
  • October 1st - 1700 AM Radio interview at 6:00 pm.
Autographed copies will be available but limited to stock on hand. Signed copies can also be purchased at my author website listed below. Come to one of my book talks if you can. I'd like to meet many of you in person and try to answer any questions you may have. 

For more information about my books or to buy an autographed copy, check out my author website: 

Also available at
Kindle, KOBO, B&N Nook,
Google Books, and ibooks  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Victorian Theater and The Limelight

In the Victorian period, the expression in the limelight meant the most desirable acting area on the stage, front and center. Today, the expression simply means someone is getting public recognition and acclaim.

The limelight effect was discovered by Goldsmith Gurney in the 1820s based on his work with an oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Scottish inventor, Thomas Drummond (1797-1840), built a working model of the calcium light in 1826 for use in the surveying profession.

The calcium light was created by super heating a cylinder of quicklime (calcium oxide) with an oxy-hydrogen flame that gives off a bright light with a greenish tint.

Eleven years later, the term limelight was coined to describe a form of stage illumination first used in 1837 for a public performance at the Covent Garden Theatre in London. 

By the 1860s, this new technology of stage lighting was in wide use in theaters and dance halls around the world. It was a great improvement over the previous method of stage lighting, candle powered footlights placed along the stage apron. 

Limelight lanterns could also be placed along the front of the lower balcony for general stage illumination providing more natural light than footlights alone. 

A lighthouse-like lens (Fresnel lens) was developed that could direct and focus concentrated light on the stage to spotlight a solo performance. Actors and performers must have felt they were living in the heyday of the theater.

The term green room has been used since the Victoria period to describe the waiting area performers used before going on stage. Theater lore has it that actors would sit in a room lit by limelight to allow their eyes to adjust to the harsh stage lighting, preventing squinting during their stage entrances.

Although the electric light replaced limelight in theaters by the end of the nineteenth century, the term limelight still exists in show business, as does the term green room.

Today, the green room celebrities use before appearing on talk shows is not usually painted green. The room still performs a similar function as in the Victoria age--to prepare a performer to go on stage.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Zug Island Novel Gets Facelift

July 2017 marks fifty years since the Detroit Riot left its indelible mark on American history. Anyone who experienced this week of bloodshed and arson can never forget it--43 reported deaths, 7,000 arrests, 4,000 injuries, 2,500 buildings looted or burned to the ground, 5,000 residents left homeless, 16,682 fire runs, and a river of fire ten blocks long.

Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel tells the story of two young men, one white and one black, who push the boundaries of race as they explore each others culture. Set in 1967 against a backdrop of industrial blight and urban decay, Jake Malone and Theo Semple get a crash course in race relations as they stumble in and out of rhythm on Detroit's mean streets discovering the face of racism comes in every shade of color.
Kirkus Reviews, a publishing trade magazine, said of Zug Island, "The novel is tightly written with a dramatic plot, well-rounded characters, and clear insights into social history. An engaging, dynamic story that grapples intelligently with the themes of race, class, and morality."

My newly revised 2nd edition has a new cover and includes several enhanced scenes. Since writing Zug Island in 2011, I've learned more about the Detroit communities of Delray, Black Bottom, and Paradise Valley, and the enhanced narrative reflects that. Also new is a segment on the Algiers Motel murders conspicuous by its absence from the original. 

Copies are available online from, B&N, and Kindle. 

Autographed copies are available at my author website:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

John Norman Collins Kelly & Company Interview

In 1988, serial killer John Norman Collins gave a television interview from Marquette Branch Prison in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Years before Ted Bundy, Collins was luring young women to slaughter. From the summers of 1967-1969, Collins murdered a minimum of seven women and left them along the country roadside terrorizing residents in the college towns of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. On July 31, 1969, Collins was arrested for the murder of Eastern Michigan coed Karen Sue Beineman.

In my nonfiction account of these murders Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked, I reveal the backstory of this rare Kelly & Company [Detroit morning talk show] interview interspersed with commentary by people associated with these cases. John Kelly hosted the studio portion of the show and his co-host [wife] Marilyn Turner flew up to Marquette Prison to conduct the prison interview.

All of Collins appeals had run out and his attempt at an international [Canadian] prisoner exchange failed. This was Collins's last chance to take his story to the public and make his case that he was railroaded by an overzealous prosecutor and a rogue county sheriff. 

Collins was in control of the interview until Marilyn Turner blindsided him with "Did you love your mother, John?" With that single question, Turner cut through his self-protective stratagems. For the rest of the interview Collins was sullen and disoriented. When the studio audience was polled at the end of the show, votes ran 2 to 1 against Collins. John's roll of the dice to manipulate the media came up snake eyes.

John Kelly and Marilyn Turner1988 Kelly & Company John Norman Collins interview [44 minutes]:

Terror in Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked true crime book: also available on Amazon, B&N, and other online booksellers. A Kindle edition will be available soon. It takes a couple of weeks for a new title to work its way into the system.