Ramsland, Katherine 1953-
Ramsland, Katherine 1953-
Born January 2, 1953, in Ann Arbor, MI; daughter of Henry (an electrical engineer) and Barbara (a homemaker) Johnston; married Steven Ramsland (a mental health agency director), May 26, 1979. Education: Northern Arizona University, B.A., 1978; Duquesne University, M.A. (clinical psychology), 1979; Rutgers University, Ph.D., 1984. Received master's degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, professor of philosophy, 1980-95; DeSales University, Center Valley, PA, professor of psychology and forensic psychology, 2001—. Trial consultant, public speaker, and crisis counselor.
American Academy of Forensic Sciences, American Philosophical Practitioners Association, American Psychological Association, American Society of Trial Consultants, Horror Writers of America, Soren Kierkegaard Society.
Engaging the Immediate: Applying Kiekegaard's Theory of Indirect Communication to the Practice of Psychotherapy, Bucknell University Press (Lewisburg, PA), 1988.
The Art of Learning: A Self-Help Manual for Students, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1992.
The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's Supernatural Universe, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
The Witches' Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
The Anne Rice Trivia Book, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
The Roquelaure Reader: A Companion to Anne Rice's Erotica, Plume (New York, NY), 1996.
Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Steven Ramsland) Quesadillas: Over 100 Fast, Fresh, and Festive Recipes, Prima Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.
Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.
Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self, Walking Stick (Cincinnati, OH), 2000.
The Forensic Science of C.S.I., Boulevard (New York, NY), 2001.
Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse after Death, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2001.
Ghost: Investigating the Other Side, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
The Science of Vampires, Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology, Writer's Digest (Cincinnati, OH), 2002.
(With Gregg O. McCrary) The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators among Us, Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
The Science of Cold Case Files, Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2004.
The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers: Why They Kill, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2005.
(With James E. Starrs) A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.
The C.S.I. Effect, Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Beating the Devil's Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation, Berkley Boulevard Books (New York, NY), 2007.
(Editor) The Anne Rice Reader, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
The Heat Seekers, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Blood Hunters, Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.
Katherine Ramsland has written many books that explore various aspects of forensic science and the darker side of criminal investigation. She is also the authorized biographer of "Vampire Chronicles" author Anne Rice, and an established expert on Rice's work, as well as on contemporary gothic subculture. After publishing Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice, Ramsland went on to pen several guides to Rice's writings, all with Rice's full cooperation. Ramsland has also published Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, about the famed horror writer. Though Booklist reviewer Ray Olson found Ramsland "mostly just synopsizes and biographically interprets [Koontz's] fiction," he appreciated the book's readability and popular appeal.
Ramsland's first book on true crime, Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today, was published in 1998. It is an account of her investigation into the disappearance of journalist Susan Walsh, who vanished while researching vampire cults in New York City. Trained in clinical psychology and philosophy, Ramsland brought what a Publishers Weekly reviewer described as "remarkable empathy" to this project, and which the contributor hailed as "immensely insightful and exciting" and a "model of engaged journalism." Reviewers for Library Journal and Booklist expressed similar enthusiasm for the book, which presents contemporary vampires as individuals who are sometimes disturbed and frightening, but who are also often misunderstood. Though Ramsland never solved the Walsh mystery, critics pointed out that her speculations as to the journalist's fate remain intriguing.
The subject matter was less dark in Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self. In this book, Ramsland guides readers through exercises intended to develop greater personal fulfillment. Central to this approach is journal writing, through which readers can identify and clarify their thinking. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly considered it a "nurturing and pragmatic" work that provides a "solid foundation for understanding the concept of bliss," as well as an understanding of the developmental stages associated with its search.
In her 2001 collection Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse after Death, Ramsland offers readers "an amusing if grisly compendium of everything we never wished to know" about the dead and the social customs of funerals, according to a Kirkus Reviews writer. For this book of anecdotes, the author interviewed directors of funeral homes, looked into the history of funeral rituals, researched famous, well-preserved corpses—such as Vladimir Lenin's and Eva Peron's—and explored the special world of tagophiles, or people who are obsessed with gravestones. The Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that although there are no profound insights into the nature of death in Cemetery Stories, the book is full of "shovelfuls of intriguing tidbits" about end-of-life matters.
Ramsland began working on Ghost: Investigating the Other Side while researching Piercing the Darkness. One of her "vampire" contacts had given her a ring that he claimed was possessed. Although Ramsland herself felt that there was nothing unusual about the object, others seemed to react very strongly to it, and the author began trying to unravel its secrets. Her initial skepticism toward the notion that the ring had inherent power gradually transformed to belief as her investigation progressed, and that transformation is made "all the more spinetingling" because of her initial resistance, stated a Publishers Weekly writer. Delving into the world of ghost hunters, psychics, and the like, Ghost is "credible, smart, sane and funny," according to the Publishers Weekly contributor.
Having written extensively about Anne Rice, the creator of a vampire novel series, and about the world of contemporary vampires, Ramsland turned to possible explanations of the vampire phenomenon in her book The Science of Vampires. Her study considers everything from fictional depictions of vampires, to contemporary subcultures who identify with the vampire image, to case studies of murderers who displayed vampiric traits in their crimes. A Publishers Weekly reviewer pointed out that despite its title, The Science of Vampires is "not a scholarly book aimed at the scientific community," but rather an interesting and useful collection of folklore and popular portrayals of vampires.
Ramsland collaborated with Gregg O. McCrary to write The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators among Us. The authors base the book on ten vicious crimes and detail the investigative analysis of these acts. They discuss the process of profiling, which involves collecting evidence, scientifically analyzing it, and using the information to develop a psychological profile of the perpetrator. "The book offers plenty of shockingly grisly and strange details to fascinate and horrify," advised a Publishers Weekly writer. It is "surprisingly lively," joked David Pitt in Booklist.
Ramsland focused on serial killers throughout history in The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation. Discussing the psychological circumstances that lay the groundwork for the development of a killer's psyche, she gives readers concrete examples, proceeding chronologically from ancient Rome up to the present day. Her book "is a chilling reminder that the darkness that exists in human nature is not, as some might think, the product of modern society," commented a reviewer for Forensic Examiner.
Ramsland explored the realities and fallacies of forensic science as shown on popular television programs in her books The Forensic Science of C.S.I., The C.S.I. Effect, and The Science of Cold Case Files. In The C.S.I. Effect, she compares and contrasts the techniques shown on the program C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation with the ways the crimes probably would have been investigated in real life. In addition, she discusses the ways in which C.S.I. has had an effect on juries in real-life trials because of the ways it informs them, and misinforms them, about police procedures and evidence handling. The book is "a fascinating must-read for CSI fans and anyone interested in criminal justice," stated Kristine Huntley in Booklist.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, January-February, 2003, James E. Starrs, review of The Forensic Science of C.S.I., p. 84.
Booklist, February 15, 1997, Kathleen Hughes, review of The Anne Rice Reader, p. 994; November 15, 1997, Ray Olson, review of Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, p. 537; July, 1998, Mike Tribby, review of Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today, p. 1827; October 1, 2001, Margaret Flanagan, review of Ghost: Investigating the Other Side, p. 270; July, 2002, David Pitt, review of The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology, p. 1815; July, 2003, David Pitt, review of The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators among Us, p. 1851; February 1, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of A Voice for the Dead: A Forensic Investigator's Pursuit of the Truth in the Grave, p. 923; September 15, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of The C.S.I. Effect, p. 11.
Forensic Examiner, May-June, 2002, review of The Forensic Science of C.S.I., p. 46; summer, 2006, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, p. 69.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of Cemetery Stories: Creepy Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse after Death, p. 1197, and review of Ghost, p. 1198.
Law Enforcement Technology, October, 2006, review of The C.S.I Effect, p. 193.
Library Journal, November 15, 1997, Ronald Ray Ratliff, review of Dean Koontz, p. 59; September 15, 1998, Christine A. Moesch, review of Piercing the Darkness, p. 97; November 1, 2001, Leroy Hommerding, review of Ghost, p. 120; July, 2003, Tim Delaney, review of The Unknown Darkness, p. 104; February 15, 2005, Tim Delaney, review of A Voice for the Dead, p. 146.
Publishers Weekly, August 17, 1998, review of Piercing the Darkness, p. 54; August 21, 2000, review of Bliss: Writing to Find Your True Self, p. 63; August 20, 2001, review of Ghost, p. 68; April 29, 2002, review of The Criminal Mind, p. 59; September 9, 2002, review of The Science of Vampires, p. 58; May 26, 2003, review of The Unknown Darkness, p. 60; January 31, 2005, John Silbersack, review of A Voice for the Dead, p. 60.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2006, review of Inside the Minds of Serial Killers.
Katherine Ramsland Home Page,http://www.katherineramsland.com (October 24, 2000).