Anne Perry is internationally known for her best-selling crime novels, but in New Zealand she is better known as teenage murderer Juliet Hulme.
In 1954, Ms Hulme and her friend Pauline Parker murdered Ms Parker’s mother in Christchurch. The case made headlines around the world, and years later it would be retold in Sir Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures.
Speaking to 60 Minutes’ Guyon Espiner, Ms Perry said her time being the only child in a prison full of adults was “pretty grim”.
“It was pretty rough. We had two showers a week, and there were two toilets for 30 or 40 of us. One was out in the open, the other had half a door. But you get used to things and you don’t make a big issue of it.”
Ms Perry said her coping strategy in prison was simple: Own your behaviour.
“I think the very first thing you do, is you don’t blame anyone else. You think ‘I’m here because I deserve to be, it’s nobody else’s fault’. Don’t get angry. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t lie to yourself. Make friends with the people who were there.”
She says that you can make friends with anyone, and listening to the stories of other prisoners has helped her with her writing.
“Almost everyone has something they’d rather forget.”
Ms Perry believes she has paid her debt to society, and says that she doesn’t dwell in it.
“One needs to pay, when you know you’re in the wrong. Then you can leave it behind you. It’s not a terrible thing, it’s a good thing, it’s a healing thing, to pay, and then leave it behind you.”
She doesn’t continue to punish herself over the past.
“You’re not serving any purpose, if you beat yourself up for the rest of your life. ‘Oh, woe is me’ is a pain in the everything. Not only to yourself, but to everybody around you,” she said.
“The best thing you can do, from then on, is be the best person you know how, and make damn sure you forgive everybody else. That means forgetting, and not carrying grudges, which is not so easy to do, but you learn. If you believe in forgiveness, then that has to extend to everybody.”
After being released at 21, she went from being Juliet Hulme to Anne Perry, and settled into a new life in England, working as a flight attendant.
“I don’t remember it being particularly painful. Awkward and scary occasionally. I don’t remember it being anything other than ‘be careful, and think before you speak’.”
As a writer, Anne Perry has been prolific, having written more than 70 books. Her first, The Cater Street Hangman, was published in 1979. She writes by hand, with pen and paper, and says that once she finishes a book, she doesn’t read it, but is immediately on to the next one.
“I love what I do. If you were to say ‘look, I’ll pay you a couple of million a year not to write’, what would I buy that would be as much fun?”
She says she didn’t know that her former life would be linked to her current one due to Heavenly Creatures, until her agent asked her about some rumours the day before the film was released.
She said she did not consider lying, and was more concerned for her parents than herself.
“I thought this was the end. I’ll lose everything. I’ll lose my career; it’ll probably kill my mother. I’ll lose my home and I shall probably end up living in a hut on the hillside… And I haven’t lost anything. Nothing at all, not even a friend. Grace of God, there.”
She reiterates her mantra of moving on from her crime.
“There’s nothing you can do except get on with it, and I’m certainly not the first person this has happened to,” she said.
“I hope now – it’s golly nearly 60 years – that we can let it go.”
source: newshub archive