Crime Junkie Host Ashley Flowers Discusses Her Debut Novel and How She Fell in Love with True Crime – PEOPLE

Crime Junkie Host Ashley Flowers Discusses Her Debut Novel and How She Fell in Love with True Crime – PEOPLE

Ashley Flowers has taken her passion for true crime to new dimensions.
The producer and co-host of Crime Junkie, a chart-topping podcast with over 500 million downloads and 250 episodes, turned her expansive knowledge of the topic into a fictional murder mystery titled All Good People Here, which is set to release Aug. 16. 
Flowers' debut novel follows Margot, a young reporter, as she returns to her hometown of Wakarusa, Ind., to unearth the backstories of her lifelong neighbors — and tries to find answers regarding the murder of her childhood friend, January Jacobs, which has gone unsolved for 25 years.
Though Flowers, 32, is known for being the voice of multiple podcasts under the media company audiochuck — of which she is the founder and CEO — she first fell in love with the crime and mystery genre through reading.
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Flowers says she inherited her passion for true crime from her mother and grandmother before her. "That's what my mom was into — when I was really little, I was watching Perry Mason with her and reading Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew and these fictional stories that I realized were based on the real world," she told PEOPLE. "As I got older and older, I just became fascinated with this darker side of reality."
"People keep calling [my book] a departure from what I'm doing, but to me it feels like I'm going back to how this all started," Flowers says. "For me, it started with fiction mystery novels that I would read as a young kid."
Though Flowers says she didn't draw on specific crime cases or podcast episodes when crafting the story for her novel, she admits "there's no way my true crime life didn't bleed into it." In fact, Flowers based a key piece of evidence in her book on part of a true crime case she studied for her podcast: the threatening note written in big letters on the Jacobs family's barn that seemed to link January's murder with the more recent murder of a girl a few towns over.
"In my book, there's a moment when there's a note on the barn," she says. "There's a real case that we've covered before [on the podcast] where there's a note on a barn."
The bigger picture she wants to get across to readers is inextricably linked to what she has learned from studying true crime — that many people can seem to fit the perfect profile of the criminal, but often it only seems that way due to coincidences or random facts. "From the outside, it's so easy to cast judgment or place blame when you really don't know what's happening behind closed doors, which is also the meaning behind the title," she explains.
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Besides having an encyclopedic knowledge of true crime, the novel's setting is also familiar to Flowers, an Indiana native. Flowers' Crime Junkie co-host and lifelong best friend Brit Prawat grew up in the real town of Wakarusa, where the two spent their childhood summers together.
"I've always seen these bigger cities pop up over and over again, and as a local, I always wanted to see my own place represented," Flowers says. "So I was like, 'if I'm going to write a book, this is what I know better than anything else — let's set it in this really tiny, obscure place that is really meaningful to me, but also might showcase Indiana to the rest of the world.'"
At the moment, Flowers does not have any concrete plans to write a sequel to her debut novel, but she is open to writing more in the future. 
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"It was a roller coaster of a process," she says of writing All Good People Here. "Now that the book is finished and I can hold onto it, this is the most exciting part of it all, and it's got me fired up to want to do another one. But I'm looking to the readers to see if they like it and if they want to hear more from me. If they do, I would love to write another book."
Spending so much time immersed in the world of true crime can be scary, but Flowers says it is all worth it because of the positive impact that comes out of sharing these stories.
"We're talking to these families every single week who are going through the worst times and looking for justice for their loved one, and that can weigh on you" she says. "But I think I'm able to do it because I truly believe that if myself and my whole team weren't doing this, the world would be a worse place, and we're making it better for these families and these victims."

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