Dear Librarians: A Letter from Tasha Coryell, Author of Love Letters to a Serial Killer

By Rachel Tran | May 7 2024 | NewsFrom the Author

Dear Librarians,

I wrote most of my debut novel, Love Letters to a Serial Killer, while tucked away at a desk in a university library. It was a place that I went so often that the employee on the first floor café gave me a stamp card for my daily lattes, even though they didn’t routinely provide stamp cards.

The library was where I learned to love mysteries. Nancy Drew, to be more specific. I have a core memory of the line of yellow books in the kids’ section of my local public library. I read every single one that the library had. I read so many that I started to guess the endings. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the protagonist of my novel becomes a kind of detective herself, though her boyfriend is significantly less upstanding than Nancy’s Ned Nickerson.

In my novel, Hannah starts writing an accused serial killer as she becomes increasingly disillusioned with the life around her. When she gets fired from her nonprofit job (an industry where employees, like librarians, are frequently undervalued and underpaid), she goes to watch the trial and after the accused serial killer is released, the two wind up engaged and Hannah has to determine if he’s guilty of the crimes he was accused of before she winds up dead herself.

At the time I wrote the novel, I was also enrolled in a PhD program that required engaging with intensive academic texts. Like consuming Nancy Drew novels as a child, reading and writing thrillers became a kind of balm. I would leave campus, drive to the public library, and peruse their well-curated selection of new releases. The library allowed me to read without worrying about money even as my finances were tight and the visits served as self-care during years that were stressful for reasons both personal and external.

Recently, I moved back to the city where I grew up having completed my PhD. My house is within walking distance of the library where I checked out all those Nancy Drew books and one of my first acts after we finished unpacking was walking my son there in his stroller to get a library card. My son is only two, but something that I know about him is that he loves books. “More books!” he yells while he eats dinner, while he procrastinates going to bed. I’m glad that the library is close enough to serve as a refuge the same way that it always has for me and I’m so curious to see which titles he’s drawn to the way that I was drawn to Nancy Drew.

My aim in writing Love Letters to a Serial Killer was to write the exact kind of book that I myself would enjoy checking out. Something funny, thrilling, and a little sexy. The book wouldn’t exist without the library, a place that has felt like a second home to me in multiple junctures in my life.

I hope you enjoy spending time with Hannah and her letters. Thank you for all the work that you do.


Tasha Coryell

Love Letters to a Serial Killer
An aimless young woman starts writing to an accused serial killer while he awaits trial and then, once he’s acquitted, decides to move in with him and take the investigation into her own hands in this dark and irresistibly compelling debut thriller.