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5 Questions For Don Souden

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  • 5 Questions For Don Souden

    5 Questions for Donald Souden

    1. Do you think more Ripper-related fiction will become prevalent or do you see more suspect based books emerging ?

    2. How many hours a month do you spend in Ripperological study?

    3. How do you feel Ripperologist,as well as other magazines in our field,could be best utilized?

    4. Which of your several articles gave you the most enjoyment in composing? Personally,I enjoyed the one on McCarthy & Bowyer very much.

    5. What is your opinion of 21st Century profiling as to its relevance to the 1888 Ripper ?

    Thanks for your time.

  • #2
    Thanks to Don for his time and answers !

    1) I think there is little question that "factual" (non-fiction) Ripper books, especially suspect-based ones, will continue to appear in far greater numbers than fictional treatments of the case.

    There are many reasons for this, not the least being a growing reluctance by agents to take on fiction of any kind because of a similar reluctance on the part of publishers. In contrast, any book that purports to have "the solution" (how often have we seen that?) is much more likely to evoke interest by both publishers and the public. That said, however, I have long believed that fiction might be the best way to lay out a case against a suspect without suffering the shouts of "Where’s the beef?" from those seeking the iron-clad evidence that may never be available. If I ever had three months without worrying about paying bills I would give it a whirl myself.

    2) In actual formal study? Gulp! I’m embarrassed to say darned little. However, if you add up the hours spent editing and fact-checking articles by others, writing my own articles, reading the posts on various Ripper-related fora, and email and IM discussions with friends the number is probably higher that I’d care to know. Of course, there is always something new to be learned, but I believe that just as knowing sports trivia is not nearly so important as really understanding the game, so too knowing the minutiae of the Ripper case isn’t nearly so important as being able the analyze and explain the basic facts.

    3) Interesting question and one that we at Ripperologist are very conscious of now that we are the only full-size magazine in the field appearing regularly. We appear every month and the goal of every issue is to better inform and entertain our readers than the previous month. The inform element is doubtless accepted as a given, but the entertainment aspect is equally important for any magazine. After all, we have a broad spectrum of readership that includes those who will sit down with a stopwatch and calculator to closely follow an article describing, say, the beat timing of a single PC. But, we also have readers just starting to explore the subject and who may put the super-detailed articles aside for later perusal while getting a kick out stories about Ripper movies or interesting aspects of the Late Victorian Period. Moreover, Ripperologist serves an important function for all students of the mystery to present new ideas in an attractive format that permits the next best thing to peer review. We are always interested in articles and can usually promise that those accepted will appear within a month or two.

    4) Oh boy, that is like asking a mother which of her children she loves the most. I’d be hard put to make many distinctions between the several thousand newspaper columns I churned out, far less the few Ripper articles I’ve written. I could probably name a few columns and one Ripper article I wish I hadn’t written, but that’s not what you asked. Certainly the McCarthy article caused some people to think (and I’ve thought of a lot more material since that I could have included) and the one on Ripper myths is constantly being cited because myths die hard. More recently, I have enjoyed the satirical series—The Detectives—I started in the November Ripperologist because I love making people laugh. Still, your question was which gave me the most enjoyment in composing and I would have to say that was "A Life Less Ordinary: The Victims of Jack the Ripper on the Big Screen" I did last month with Jennifer Pegg. The strange truth is that despite the years of writing under my belt, this was the first time I ever collaborated with anyone. It was a new and very pleasant experience. Not only did I have the luxury of doing only half the research and writing, but I benefited from someone else’s ideas (it was Jenni who had the bright notion to use actual film titles for the sub-heads). Moreover, Jenni was a delight to work with. So, collaboration was a new experience for me, but one I hope to repeat.

    5) Ah, I could on for pages with this topic, but I’ll try to keep it short. Modern profiling strikes me as more an art than a science (and we know what kind of a hornets’ nexst can be stirred up arguing about art) and that most profilers are nothing more than savvy cops with degrees after their name. That said, because of the vast cultural differences encountered over time, retro-profiling is dodgy at best—and the greater the temporal disconnect the dodgier the conclusions.