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Christian Longo: My True Crime Inspiration for The Recipient

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

Eight years ago, I read an article titled Killer’s Quest: Allow Organ Donation After Execution about Oregon death row inmate Christian Longo who was seeking redemption for the murder of his family through organ donation. The article stayed with me after I read it. Both the shock of how he horrifically killed his wife and three young children, and his plea to “give back” to society posthumously.

The article raised a highly debatable question: Should he be allowed to donate his organs after execution? Ultimately, the state of Oregon said no. But the article got me thinking, how would I feel if I, or someone I loved, received an organ from him? What if my husband received some life-giving organ from this child killer? Would it bother me or would I simply be grateful for the second chance at life?

As I pondered this, the plot for The Recipient began to form in my mind. Only recently did I discover that Christian Longo also became the inspiration for the 2015 film, True Story, starring James Franco as Christian Longo. I had seen the film twice, not realizing that he was the same killer who’d inspired by debut novel.

Christian Longo is still on death row at Oregon State Penitentiary. Although capital punishment is still legal in Oregon, there is currently a moratorium on executions.

Since writing The Recipient, true crime has continued to spur my inspiration for fictional stories. The idea for my second novel, Inspired by Murder, also came to me from watching a true crime documentary (read more here). And, the 5th Emerald City Thriller, which I’m in the early stages of writing, was inspired by the arrest of actress Allison Mack in 2018. She is currently awaiting sentencing for her involvement in the NXIVM cult organization (read more here). I’m really excited about writing this new book (which has yet to have a title) and am anticipating its release for Spring 2020.

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