An interview with Jimmy Lee Shreeve about his new book…
First published 2007.
1) Blood Rites is at times a gruesome read. How did researching and writing the book affect you, personally?
Well, I began by being horrified and appalled by the blood spilt in the name of religion and sorcery. But eventually your mind puts up a barrier allowing you to deal with such subjects, and brutality, insanity and gore become commonplace and everyday. This is necessary – otherwise you would go mad. You simply couldn’t stay sane when contemplating the hell-hound, homicidal craziness that homo sapiens sometimes sink to.
2) You draw comparisons with what is acceptable and unacceptable by today’s society very well in Blood Rites. Do you feel “cults” such as Satanism are now becoming more “mainstream” the more information is being made available and so losing their “mythic” and “evil” status?
Yes, I think that’s absolutely true. But there are still rogue Christian fundamentalist groups hell-bent on defaming and slandering pagans, occultists and alternative belief systems in general. They’re getting desperate because their aeon, which began with the advent of the Christ myth, is drawing to a close. A new aeon is beginning. And it will blow all the fundamentalists’ heads apart – Christian, Islamic, all of them. The good thing is, it will be a far better time for the majority of us. Man will no longer worship unseen entities that are supposed to be more powerful than us. Instead we will steal the fire from the gods and become divine ourselves. The “new Prometheans” will be unbound and free to do as they will…
But that could be some time off. In the meantime, fundamentalism rears its head everywhere, even in the “Adam”, torso in the Thames case. Some of the experts who advised Scotland Yard on the case, those who said the killing was a ritual sacrifice, were rampant born-again Christians. One was Colonel Kobus Yonker, the founder and one-time head of the South African Police Service’s Occult Unit. He saw “Satan” in everything, and was a totally crazed fundamentalist. He could well have hi-jacked the Adam case as a way of re-igniting the completely discredited “Satanic Ritual Abuse Myth” of the 1980s and 1990s.
This is certainly the conclusion of a group called the Subculture Alternatives Freedom Foundation, or SAFF, a UK-based organisation founded in 1988 to protect minority religions from victimisation and suppression. They have done convincing research showing that fundamentalists Christians were behind bringing police to the conclusion that Adam’s killing was the result of a Juju sacrifice.
I don’t know whether SAFF are correct or not. But the big issue is that Christian fundamentalists should not be involved in advising police on so called satanic or occult crime. Apart from anything else, the vast majority of pagans, satanists and occultists are decent, honourable people who don’t commit murder or acts of atrocity. In fact, SAFF have statistics to show that extremist Christians and other fundamentalists have the monopoly on committing blood-curdling atrocities.
Quite bluntly, I place more trust in people who evoke demons (which could be seen as the conflicting aspects of ourselves) or the great god Pan, than I do in extremist Christians.
3) To whom do you hope Blood Rites will most appeal?
Well, Blood Rites is not a conventional true crime book. For a start, it defends Satanism, paganism and magick. And I even go down into the bowels of Hell to meet up with the Lord of Darkness. It is also written in a new journalism, narrative style – like Mark Bowden did in “Black Hawk Down”. And it has echoes of the late “gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson. So god or satan only knows who the readers will be. In fact, we can only pray, for the sake of my career, that there will be readers…
4) Have you had any responses, negative or positive, from those who deal with the topic of the book on a daily basis (EG: Police, practitioners etc.)
Currently, I haven’t had any feedback. But I suspect I’ll get some from the detectives on the Adam case. So why not keep this question open and I’ll reply in a few weeks? The result could be interesting.
5) True Crime as a “genre” though always popular has grown ever more so recently (as can be seen by your radio show). Why do you think this is?
The obvious answer is that people are fascinated by the murderous depths our own species can sink to. Much like people who visit car accidents. They have a gruesome fascination. And maybe it is a way of appeasing their fears. But I’d say it’s really about the beast inside. We are all murderous werewolves at heart. But we’re too scared of being locked up in jail to let the beast loose and indulge our maniacal lusts for blood, murder and mayhem. So we buy true crime books and listen to disreputable radio shows like mine instead.
So I’m doing an incredibly important job by keeping the murder rates down. When you think about it, I should be given a state allowance like the Royal Family – after all, they do nothing to appease humanities’ homicidal tendencies, and here am I keeping people’s beasts safely locked within.
6) Have you ever been tempted to write a novel based on what you’ve learned through research?
On Christ, I thought I was writing novels… No one told me otherwise, not the publishers, the newspapers or the magazines. Just goes to show that you can’t believe anything you read. But seriously, yes, I am considering writing a crime fiction novel. It’s main character is an anti-hero, not a cop or private eye, because they’d have to toe-the-line. Although he’s not based on me, I’m thinking he should be an investigative journalist – one who often snorts a line of cocaine (like Sherlock Holmes, who injected it) while ferreting into crimes. And I think he should be a fan of the artist and magician Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956), which means he would be casting spells and drawing sigils (talismans) to help him get ahead of the investigative game. He would be a mix of the rational and irrational.
Come to think of it, he sounds just like me…
7) At what stage did you think “I’ll write a book about human sacrifice in the 21st century?” and from then until completion, how long did your research take to compile and complete?
I didn’t plan to write a book about human sacrifice in the new millennium. It was the last thing on my mind. But back in 1999 I used to write lots of articles for a paranormal magazine. I happened to discover that human sacrifice was still going on in places like South America and Malaysia, so I did a piece on it. Being someone who has been interested in magick and the supernatural since childhood, I was amazed that people still killed as part of their magickal or religious rites – I thought it went out with the Aztecs or the Celtic “wicker man”.
After writing the article, I kept an eye on the news wires. And all too often a case of human sacrifice would crop up, usually in far-flung areas. But then the Adam case hit the headlines in September 2001. I couldn’t believe it, human sacrifice had apparently hit our shores. Even then I didn’t think about writing a book about it. The only reason I did eventually blast out a proposal was that no one commenting on the case had any direct, first hand knowledge of magick. As I happen to be a newspaper journalist too, I thought it was a good combination. I could take a rational investigative approach, mixed with direct, personal knowledge of the many diverse paths of sorcery.
As to how long Blood Rites took to write and research. Well, the writing itself took six months. While the full-on research took an intensive three months. But my wife helped enormously on both research and copy editing. She also made sure that I kept the whole thing balanced, and didn’t let my opinions run away with themselves.
8) Other than entertaining your ancestors on Halloween night, what do you do to relax? What are you currently reading, listening to and watching?
I’m currently reading Ramsey Dukes’ “Little Book of Demons” and W.B. Yeats’ “A Vision”. Music-wise, I’ve been listening to the symphonies of Vaughan Williams and to acid Jazz. Movies, well, tonight I’ll probably watch Kung Fu Hustle from Stephen Chow. But when it comes to crime, I’ve long been a big fan of Elmore Leonard, James Crumley, Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler. I don’t read true crime because it is too gruesome for one as sensitive as me.
9) Give three tips to anybody thinking about writing a True Crime book.
Number one: Select a victim. Two: kill them. Three: write about it.
Alternatively, do the following:
Step one: Get yourself into national newspapers and magazines writing about crime. If you can’t do that, go for the local media. And if that fails, set up a popular crime website like the remarkable Chris High.
Step two: Find a strong subject, then write up a solid proposal/outline, with a couple of sample chapters.
Step three: Send your proposal to literary agents. If no-one takes it up, hit the publishers yourself. If that fails, keep trying. DO NOT give up.
10) What’s next for Jimmy Lee Shreeve?
The follow-up to Blood Rites will most likely be a book about cannibalism, again “as goes on today and terrifying close to home”. Maybe it’ll get me on TV as a celebrity chef…
Author and journalist