Mount St. Joseph University

Authors of The Mount

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Katie M. Donovan

File Under: authors, writers

The College of Mount St. Joseph is graced with a vast line up of many wonderful professors, faculty and staff members. Did you know that we have some authors among us? It’s true! This article highlights just two of many of our talented writers.     

Dr. Beth Murray

Many of you have seen or know Dr. Beth Murray. She graduated the Mount in 1986 from the Biology department where she has been teaching since 1989. Murray earned her M.A. in Anthropology at UC in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Biology in 1993. She is one of 60 certified Forensic Anthropologists in North America and has been participating in forensic investigations locally, regionally, nationally and internationally since 1986. Murray said, “I like to say ‘I was forensic before it was cool!’”

When Murray isn’t sharing her knowledge with the Mount community, she is either reading, doing some yoga or spending time with her family.           

Murray has also been a lifelong writer. Her book, “Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death” was recently published in 2012.

Murray said her book is a, “case-based approach to how forensic science helps identify John, Jane, and Baby Doe cases (unidentified persons). It cover(s) everything from external features (skin color, tattoos, scars, etc.), to ‘durable goods’ (skeleton, teeth, and medical implants), and cellular clues (DNA, etc.). It's geared for grades seven and up and is a great way to "sneak" in some science while using what I hope are interesting cases -- some of which come from cases in my own practice.”

Her goal in publishing the book was to get more students interested in science by seeing some of the applications, especially those applied in the popular career of forensics.           

“Forensic Identification: Putting a Name and Face on Death”, was only one work among Murray’s array of publications. Her other titles include, "Proceedings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences" and, “Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works” which is a 36-lecture DVD series (she) filmed for the national organization "The Teaching Company". It is one of their “Great Courses” series.          

Murray also told us that she is writing another series for “The Teaching Company" which should be filmed and released in 2014. The next book for the young-adult audience should be out in 2015 and will be about ‘The Innocence Project,’ which is “an organization devoted to using science to exonerate people who were falsely convicted for crimes.”

Julie Flanders

Mount librarian Julie Flanders has been working at the school since the year 2000. Just this year, Flanders published her very first book, “Polar Night.”

Here’s what she had to say about the book: “(It’s) about a police detective named Danny Fitzpatrick who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska. Danny makes a connection between a woman who has just gone missing and a cold case he has been working on concerning a woman who went missing a few years earlier. His investigation into the cases leads him to the Arctic town of Coldfoot and an old haunted asylum that is now a tourist attraction for visitors to the Arctic Circle. The story takes place in the dead of winter around the winter solstice, so the atmosphere is very cold, very dark, and very creepy. In the end, Danny discovers that things he thought were merely the stuff of horror movies and old legends are actually real, and this turns out to be a discovery that endangers his own life.”

She got her idea from the story in a very unique way. Flanders said, “I got the idea for the story from a dream I had where I was on an ocean liner in the 1920s and met a man who told me about a woman he loved and lost in Russia during World War I. The final story doesn’t bear much resemblance to the original dream, but if you read it you will see the connection.”

Flanders stated, “I’ve always loved to write ever since I was in school, but I didn’t start writing fiction until a few years ago. So, I’m definitely a late bloomer. I always had stories in my head but for some reason I never wrote them down. But now that I’ve finally started I definitely don’t want to stop.”

Flanders does not have any other published works, but is currently working on a sequel to “Polar Night” that she hopes to have finished by the end of the year. Flanders has also written another completely unrelated novel that she hopes to publish at some point as well. Flanders hopes that readers will read this book for pure enjoyment of the characters and story line, and will share it with their friends, too. 

When Flanders isn’t writing away, she is enjoying or watching sports. “I’m a big sports fan and love watching football, baseball, and college basketball. I’m a graduate of Ohio State and I’m a bit of an OSU Buckeye fanatic.” She also loves animals, and even volunteered to write for Best Friends Animal Society, which is a national animal rescue organization. She enjoys walking her dog, and is looking forward to spring when she can hit the trails with her four-legged friend.