Sandra Lester’s first poetry collection, Candy Cotton Kid and the Faustian Wolf (Q.Q. Press, 2001) was nominated for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award for poetry in 2002. Four more poetry collections followed: Tlazolteotl Poems and Illustrations (Q.Q. Press; 2004); Helkappe Poems (Q.Q. Press, 2005) and The Panjandrum of Quondam: The Epic Grenade (Samzidat Press, 2005). In addition to this, she recorded some of her poems and released them as Selected Poems CD (Samzidat Recordings, 2006).
She has also written and published The Ripper Unmasked: Confessions from Sutcliffe to a Hypnotist (Samzidat Press, 2006), which presents an account of her relationship with Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
In a recent interview, Sandra Lester spoke about her writing and the direction it is taking.
Your most recent book, The Ripper Unmasked: Confessions from Sutcliffe to a Hypnotist has been described as a true-crime, historical document. How did the book come about?
I became involved in very intense correspondence with the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe in 1993. At the time, I had no idea that the relationship would develop into something deeply personal and emotionally all-consuming. Naturally, the book includes Sutcliffe’s letters, poems and sketches to me. The more intimate, confessional side of Sutcliffe’s nature and his emotional responses to my hypnosis tapes definitely make the memoir quite different from anything published about Sutcliffe in the past. I also give a voice to his victims and discuss the death penalty.
My book is the uncut truth about the experiences I had daily, for over a year with Sutcliffe, Broadmoor hospital, the authorities and the press. It is also about how these experiences have shaped my life. I was about to become a nun before I wrote to Sutcliffe. My life took a very different turn thereafter.
How long did it take you to write The Ripper Unmasked?
I started physically writing the book Christmas 2005. I was writing over the Christmas period and over New Year, every day, 16 to 18 hours a day, until I completed it in April 2006. I published it in May 2006 and launched it in June of that year. I have been marketing it ever since.
Initially, when I started writing the book, it was more about my integrity and the need to set the record straight and dispel the myths that surround me. I also wanted to give an insight into the British justice system and how it deals with the most dangerous criminals it incarcerates in special hospitals and prisons in the U.K.