Mark R. Vogel, a resident of New Jersey, has completed his second book, The Ripper's Time. Recently, Mark and I spent some time discussing the new novel and his career as a writer of fiction.
Moroney: Why do you think that after all of these year the case of Jack the Ripper continues to fascinate readers?
Vogel: There are three reasons why the Ripper case maintained its popularity. First, the case was never solved. Second, the viciousness of the crime, the horror of it was so terrible that people remain interested in it. Finally, the Victorian Era, itself, adds a mystique to the piece. The fog, the times, it's a fascinating period of history.
Moroney: Why do you think this case was never solved?
Vogel: The reason this case was never solved was that in the 19th century people did not understand the nature of a serial murderer. The investigators were conducting a door to door search, but they were looking for a lunatic. They thought that the kind of person who did this kind of thing was obviously crazy. Today we understand that serial killers are often like a Ted Bundy, suave, cunning, and able to fool their victims. John Wayne Gacey and Jeffrey Dahmer are other examples of killers who seemed normal to outsiders. I think that the police conducted very thorough interviews at that time, and in all likelihood, they even spoke to the Ripper. They just didn't recognize him for who he was.
Moroney: Are you in love with Catherine Eddowes? Is that why you choose her for Professor Willows?
Vogel: No! I'm not in love with Catherine Eddowes. I picked her because of the accounts of her life, that she was not a prostitute, that she had long term relationships with two men, and she had children with them. She was different, not one of the “unfortunates,” as prostitutes were called then. So it seemed to me that she would have been the one to whom Henry would have been attracted.
Moroney: Talk about Henry Willows, your protagonist. How did you see him?
Vogel: Henry is a nerd, but I liked his vulnerability, his regular guyness, his weaknesses. Until Catherine is involved, he is shy, reserved, and afraid of life. When he meets Catherine, he finds his fortitude, his passion. He awakens to life.
Moroney: I know that you are an epicure, and I was wondering why you don't weave more of that interest into your novels.
Vogel: That's an interesting idea. Of course, I do touch on it when Willows and Catherine go to the French restaurant and they order certain wines and food.
Moroney: Why did you choose the time machine as a way to transport Willows back in time?
Vogel: I wanted a semi-realistic way for Henry to be able to go back to the Victorian Era. I bought a great book called The New Time Travelers by Daniel Toomey, which is where I found one little nugget that I incorporated into the novel. A lot of the book was over my head, but it was helpful in giving me the idea that I needed.
Moroney: How long did it take you to write this book, and did it achieve what you hoped that it would?
Vogel: It took me two years to write the book, and it did achieve what I had hoped. There will not be a sequel to this one, although I am currently writing a sequel to my first book, Crestwood Lake. The second book in the series is called Crestwood Lake II: Van Haden's Revenge. It's still in its early stages, but it's coming along.
Mark's books are available at Amazon.com and his website is markvogel.info.
Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at email@example.com.
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