Killer Girlfriend is a Killer Book!

I met Josh Hoffner at Book Expo America 2013 where he barely had a chance to look up while signing copies of Killer Girlfriend, The Jodi Arias StoryHoffner and co-author Brian Skoloff take us into the proceedings of Arias' trial for the murder of former lover Travis Alexander, and put some light on the lives of the couple before and during their relationship.

Hoffner is the Southwest News Editor for the Associated Press and an aspiring screenwriter. Brian Skoloff is an Associated Press reporter, writer, video journalist and author. 

Josh Hoffner

After learning that friend and author Angela Bradley followed the story daily until the trial ended, I invited her here to the salon to join the discussion. We only have Hoffner here today, but Skoloff felt that his co-author had done a magnificent job and he hopes we all enjoy the book. 

Madame Perry: The trial of Jodi Arias for the murder of Travis Alexander was this decade’s O.J.Simpson trial. Were you surprised at the amount of attention it received not only from the media but the massive audience of people following the story and trial? When did you both know that you were going to write Killer Girlfriend?

Josh: It was definitely hard to anticipate what a gigantic following the trial was going to have. Yes, it was a salacious case with juicy elements and a defendant who did some bizarre things and courted the media spotlight. But it wasn't until a month or so in that we knew this trial was a monster. We decided to write the book about a month before the case wrapped up, and we published the ebook right around the verdict. Our mindset was that there was a big following in the case, so why not publish when interest is at its highest?

Angela Bradley: Do you believe because of Travis Alexander's Mormon based childhood, that he suppressed his sexual desires as a man, only to find that he could explore them with Jodi Arias? Her background made him feel he could explore his desires with her without judgement or shame?

Brian Skoloff
Josh: It's hard to know what his desires and motivations were with the Arias relationship and how it related to his childhood. I don't think anyone disputes the fact that Travis had two sides: The devoutly Mormon side and the more freewheeling, anything-goes Jodi Arias side. Their relationship went places that wasn't in the same ballpark or league as his relationships with his wholesome group of Mormon friends. So he most definitely felt more uninhibited in his time with Jodi.
Jodi Arias
MP: Travis’s childhood couldn’t really be described as Dickensian because that would have been a step up. The eight Alexander children lived with drug addicted parents, domestic violence, physical and verbal abuse, filth and hunger until they were taken in by their grandmother when Travis was ten years old. He was making a good life for himself. Do you see a connection between the lack and need of his childhood and his voracious appetite for success and sex?
Josh: I think voracious appetite for success, yes. I don't know about the sex part. His rough upbringing helped fuel his motivation to succeed, and his life story of overcoming the odds really endeared him with his work colleagues. That, in turn, made him more successful. In terms of how his childhood might have led him to find Jodi, he obviously didn't have the mother and father figures that are the core of traditional families and can help people make better relationship decisions. (Although his grandmother took on those nurturing roles) So maybe if he weren't around drugs, violence, abuse, filth and hunger, he would have ended up in a better place relationship-wise. But that's all speculating because he's dead.

Travis Alexander

AB: Do you believe Travis allowed her to hope of a deeper relationship, including marriage, for the sex?
Josh: I don't know if "led on" are the right words, but there's no doubt that Jodi had a much different interpretation of their relationship than Travis. Sure, they broke up at various times, but he kept going back to her for sex and secret trips together. Jodi badly wanted a long-term, serious relationship with him, and those types of rendezvous definitely fanned the flames.

Angela Bradley
AB: Maybe Jodi snapped that day because she knew she had lost the battle and she had always won when it came to men? Travis was the only man that had turned her away and how dare someone to that to her! Jodi felt used and mistreated.

Josh: Completely impossible to get in her head about what happened on that fateful day in 2008. She had been turned away by other men, so I'm not sure that argument holds up. But she was definitely more fond of Travis than the other men in her life.

MP: It wasn’t only the grizzly murder that seemed to keep people following the trial, but Jodi’s behavior which ranged from nonchalant to downright bizarre. The spotlight seemed a comfortable place for her, as though she were starring in her own reality show. This was the inverse of her mother, Sandi Arias, and the grievous pain she suffered. Tell us about observing the families and friends on both sides during the trial.

Josh: Without a doubt, her behavior contributed to the soap opera-like obsession. You're also right that she was comfortable in the spotlight. She embraced it from the very beginning, doing TV interviews on shows such as 48Hours. She did a round of interviews after her conviction, including one with Brian and me, and she had a polish and poise in front of the camera that really stood out. But yes, the emotion on the part of the families of Arias and Alexander was very raw and almost painful to watch. Case in point: Travis' sisters and brothers testifying in the penalty phase of the trial. They loved their brother so much and he meant so much to them; there was this outpouring of emotion that flowed from them. The jury even got emotional. The whole ordeal was tough on Jodi's family. Her mom was there almost every day, her dad was there some of the time. Jodi told us (I never corroborated it) that she lost her job at a dental office because she spent so much time at the trial. I also believe her father lost the family restaurant that he owned in the town.

MP: Thank you both so much for visiting Madame Perry’s Salon to discuss Killer Girlfriend and this extraordinary case. Angela and I wish you both much success. Do you have another book in the near future for our ‘To Be Read’ lists?

Josh: Glad to share my thoughts. No books in the near future, but we are big believers in what we call the "true crime off the news" genre. I think there's a strong appetite for the back story on these trials that are playing out across the country, so maybe there will be some more opportunities.

You may have followed this sensational story and trial daily yet I assure you there is much more to learn in Killer Girlfriend. Follow Josh Hoffer on Twitter and GoodReads, and his AP home page, also Brian Skoloff on Twitter, GoodReads, and his AP home page. And of course, buy Killer Girlfriend!


Eugenia said…
Great intereview, so let me get the story right... they wrote a book about the murder case they were not involve in? i didn't know you can do that... so now you can write a book on ongoing case of Oscar Pistorius? if so, do you write it as how you you see it, in your own pespective?
David H. said…
Fascinating. I read EXPOSED: THE SECRET LIFE OF JODI ARIAS. This book sounds quite interesting!
Jennifer Perry said…
Thanks, David.
Eugenia, Yes. True Crime is one of my favorite non-fiction book genres. I'm amazed at the bizarre things people will do and the back stories. When reading them one can always see instances where someone had an opportunity to prevent the murder, but did not.
Many people say they don't want to get involved, yet if you see or know something I think you are involved.
Andrea Robinson said…
I think it takes a certain amount of guts to write a book like this. Not because they would fear recrimination from the accused, or anything, but because it is just plain difficult to deal with the realities of something like this.

I actually tried to watch the Lifetime movie trailer about this story, but the gory murder scene was so distressing that I had to fast-forward it to get to another scene.

Although I don't know much about the case, Jodi must have been extremely demented to do such a thing. It's a huge pity for both families to have to deal with something like this.

If Josh Hoffner and Brian Skoloff have the intestinal fortitude to tackle stories like this, I think they have the right idea in doing the stories when they are fresh. It's very logical to release the book when public interest is high. I think that people try to make sense of these anomalies of human behavior and that's why tragedies like this interest so many.

I have to give a shout-out to you, Madame Perry, for offering your salon as a place to experience writings that one would not normally discover left to one's own inclinations. It's a great service and does not disappoint.


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