Some crime writers will do anything to make their books chillingly authentic including befriending a serial killer in San Quentin State Prison, notorious as the largest male death row facility in the US.
Candice Fox didn't know what she was signing up for when she arranged to meet the San Quentin inmate for the first time
She found herself in a padlocked cage in a room with the uncuffed killer.
"You are in there with him.
"There was no warning until they opened the door and said go in.
"I didn't want to be rude so I went in and thought this is how I die."
The serial killer wanted Ms Fox to be his girlfriend and told his "tragic and vulnerable version" of the story.
She had a friendship with him for several years as she tried to understand him.
He has influenced many of the characters in her novels but not any one single character "because I didn't want to give him the air time".
A "callous and calculating" sociopath, there are shades of him in Ms Fox's Gathering Dark novel which has been optioned for development as a television series.
The ABC drama mystery Troppo is based on Crimson Lake, another of Ms Fox's 12 novels on bookstore shelves
Ms Fox has taken writing pretty seriously since she was a teenager.
By the time her first work was published, aged 26, Ms Fox had four failed manuscripts and more than 200 rejection letters.
"I stopped counting after 200 because it was too depressing."
She learnt the hard way that books about the supernatural and vampires are very difficult to get published.
So she turned to writing about crime based on growing up in a "pretty weird" household.
Ms Fox's mother had four children, adopted two and fostered 155 kids while Ms Fox was growing up.
"Everyone of those foster kids had a crime story associated with them so I knew a lot about crime."
Ms Fox's father, a parole officer with a collection of police magazines, added to her knowledge.
Ms Fox is one of eight guest authors who will be presenting at the Sisters in Crime two-day writers festival this week in Cobargo and Merimbula.
She will also be offering half-hour speed dates at which people can have one-on-one pow-wows.
Ms Fox invites people to "ask me anything you want, give me your opening pitch, ask any prickly questions about publishing".
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