Ann Rule: True Crime Author Tells How She Writes One Book a Year

Life hasn't been the same for true crime author Ann Rule since her book about serial killer Ted Bundy, "The Stranger Beside Me," was published. She says her editor told her, "Now, Ann, if you could just befriend another serial killer and write a book about it." But Ann certainly didn't want to repeat that route.

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Ann says she spent every summer in jail as a child. Her grandpa was a sheriff in Montcalm County, Michigan, so Ann wanted to grow up to be a police officer. But after failing the police eye exam, she began writing short crime stories. She got her first book contract in 1975 to write about a series of unsolved killings.

"Mysterious Ted was abducting and killing young women in the Northwest," says Ann. "Nobody knew who it was." Later, Ted Bundy was arrested in Florida, and he called Ann. It turns out she had known the killer she was writing about. Ann had volunteered at a crisis clinic in Seattle, and the college student she was paired with was "a very nice young man" named Ted Bundy. Ann says she couldn't imagine serial killer Ted Bundy hurting anyone, as he used to walk her out to her car and advise her to lock her doors on the way home.

Bundy began writing Ann letters from jail, staying in contact while she had a contract to write a book on Bundy's case. "I never lied to him," she says. Her book on Bundy, "The Stranger Beside Me," was published in 1980. Since then, Ann has published 34 books and even solved one case.

"Ronda Reynolds was a Washington state trooper," explains Ann. "She was found shot in the closet of her bedroom." It was originally ruled a suicide, but Ann suspected it was a homicide. Barb, Ronda's mother, and Ann found witnesses that had never been talked to. A coroner's jury ruled Ronda's death a homicide and her ex-husband as a suspect, but he was never tried. Ann's book about the case, "In the Still of the Night," was a bestseller.

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Ann continues to write about one book a year, saying it takes about four or five months to write a 500-page book. Ann says she sets aside time to write, writing 10 pages each day. "If you can write the first three pages, you can write the history of the world," she advises, "because if you write a page a day, at the end of a year you've got a pretty good-sized manuscript."

She says she would love if in 50 years people still read her books and learned from them. Ann says she receives letters from women telling her that, because of her books, they lock their cars and never pick up hitchhikers. "I realize I've saved lives," says Ann, "and that's a good living legacy for me."

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