by Kristi Belcamino
Over the past decade, I've tossed around the idea of writing about something profound that has affected me as a person and a mother - my dealings with a serial killer.
I fictionalized part of my story in my first book, Blessed are the Dead, but there was more to be said.
As a reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area I spent countless hours interviewing a man who kidnapped and killed kids in the hopes that he would reveal whether one girl he took, Xiana Fairchild, was still alive and where she was.
I would drive each night to the jail and talk to him. We also talked on the phone and exchanged letters.
When they found Xiana's remains, my goal became to get him to tell me details that would mean he would never see the light of day again.
Eventually he was convicted of her murder and confessed to others. The FBI suspects he killed at least ten people.
This winter I joined forces with Xiana's mother - Stephanie Kahalekulu - to write Letters from a Serial Killer. Stephanie, the girl's great aunt, was not Xiana's biological mother. However, as we know, sometimes that doesn't matter. She was more of a mother than many people ever are. Stephanie raised Xiana from her birth in prison to when she was seven years old, shortly before she was kidnapped and killed.
We wanted to share our stories about our dealings with the man in the hopes that it would bring healing to something that still affects us nearly every day.
The greatest gift to me, besides Stephanie trusting me enough to co-write this book (despite dozens of other offers to write about it over the years), is when she told a reporter that now she feels she can finally put this monster out of her life now that she's written this book with me.
After we wrote this book, I didn't sent it to my publisher. I decided to self publish it. For a few reasons. For starters, it didn't fit into what would qualify as a traditional nonfiction true crime book nor a memoir. It is about a third the size of what a publisher would want.
I didn't want to fill the book with more than I was willing to say in order to get a publishing contract. At the same time, because this is such an intensely personal book, I wanted complete and utter control of every aspect of it, from the cover to every single word. I was less interested in what someone else's idea of what would make the book marketable - to me that didn't matter. What mattered was writing this book with Stephanie and finally getting it all out on paper, which has always been my free form of therapy.
To our surprise, the number of pre-orders for this book and the media interest has been impressive. It comes out today and has already been featured on two radio shows, written about in three newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, and on one San Francisco TV station. In addition, we've received calls from producers in Los Angeles about featuring us and on our book on true crime TV shows. A little overwhelming.
Here are what some early readers have said:
"Heartbreaking and horrifying, Letters From a Serial Killer delves into the thinking of a monstrous murderer - but it also reveals the brave struggles of the women who faced him in order to find justice for his victims. It's a powerfully emotional true account that simply must be read." - Claire Booth, author of true crime book, The False Prophet
"An unflinching look at the mind of a notorious Northern California predator who shattered young lives - and invaded the psyche of the reporter who dared to confront him.Together with an anguished victim's mother, Kristi Belcamino fought for answers, at great personal and professional peril. Letters from a Serial Killer is required reading for the armchair criminal profiler. But be forewarned: this book is not for the meek."- Henry K. Lee, author of Presumed Dead: A True-Life Murder Mystery
"In this heart-wrenchingly honest, gripping, and at times disturbing look at the inner workings of a missing child case, Kristi Belcamino and Stephanie Kahalekulu pull back the curtain to what it is truly like to go through an experience that changes the lives of all those involved."- Art, Books, & Coffee
"I was lucky to read an ARC of this book. I really did not know what to expect when I started reading this, but I was quickly enthralled. I found the prologue emotional and moving. At the end of Chapter 12, something happens which is very powerful and chilling at the same time. Throughout this, I had to keep reminding myself this was not fiction but real! This whole story comes across as raw, truthful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Kristi gives a great account of the life of a crime/police reporter and things I never really thought about. To sum this book up – it is a raw, truthful, emotional, moving account from a loving mother and the relentless crime reporter, both of whom never gave up finding the truth for this little girl." - Sharon Long, reviewer for Mystery Playground
If you would like to find out more here are some links:
House of Mystery
And here is where you can buy the book:
LETTERS FROM A SERIAL KILLER EBOOK (out Tuesday)
LETTERS FROM A SERIAL KILLER paperback