J.D. Bauer is an outspoken environmentalist who's written a young adult novel called Quest for Water. Incidentally, he's also a serial killer.
Earlier this week, The Province reported that Bauer was actually Charles Kembo, a Canadian man currently in prison for murdering his wife, his mistress, his friend, and his stepdaughter. A judge called him "a serial killer, a very dangerous man." But during his trial, he also released The Trinity of Superkidds: Quest for Water, a story of, in his words, "teen aged heros gifted with a variety of exotic superpowers which they use to inspire, raise awareness and vanquish water waste and pollution in a fun, fast-paced adventure." The book has sold impressively well, with all proceeds apparently going to the World Food Programme. Along with it, Kembo created the identity of Bauer, a female author who has a Facebook page and even gave interviews. In one interview with Suite101, "Bauer" said,
TSK book series is a product of sheer desperation. Since 1966, Canada has had laws against water pollution. Internationally, most governments have weaker laws against water pollution. And those with tough laws, enforcement is an issue. Result? Water pollution galore. Solution? Get youth involved in the TSK crusade to conserve water and find its pollution. I hope the Superkidds become exceptional role models, better yet, a powerhouse of inspiration to youth today.
In another, she explained her "reclusive" reputation thus:
My family have been a subject of extortion for a number of years. Lately, I have received threats on my life from some fanatical groups. I pulled off my profile photo online for safety reasons after being advised to do so by my lawyers and the police. How are death threats fair to writers?
She also claims she was born in Canada but lives "elsewhere in the United States," and that "depending on time of the year, I have lived on three continents." Extra-creepily, she says she "prefer[s] to write in semi-darkness, alone in the nude." And her explanation of her book's "message" is pretty disturbing coming from a convicted murderer: "to rob a person of their 'gold' is theft but to rob them of 'hope' is murder. Doing nothing about water waste and pollution is the same as robbing those yet unborn of hope –- survival –- somebody say genocide?"
Bauer's Facebook page is equally odd. Her activities and interests seem calibrated to signal femaleness — they include cooking, makeup, and shopping at the mall, as well as some less conventional hobbies like "graffiti." Bauer (at left) also apparently likes writing letters, which is lucky given that "she" will be in prison for at least the next 25 years. Her favorite movies are Fried Green Tomatoes, The Joy Luck Club, and Thelma and Louise — the last one, interestingly, centers on murderers (albeit sympathetic ones).
As of today, Quest for Water is still listed on Amazon. The site has drawn fire in the past for selling objectionable books, including a guide to pedophilia. And some Amazon users are critical of the decision to list the book — says one, "It's horrifying that a serial killer is allowed to do ANYTHING under a pseudonym, much less something geared towards children. Maybe if more people are informed regarding the author, they will be less inclined to purchase anything to help line the pockets of a convicted murderer." Others disagree: "To all those who are rating this book low and saying it should be taken off the site, just remember that some of our most famous authors were pedophiles and much much worse. If you don't like the guy, then hate the guy, not the book." I'm not sure that the literary canon includes lots of pedophiles, but it is true that Amazon continues to list other books by murderers, including Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Especially since he doesn't appear to be profiting from its sale, he presence of Bauer/Kembo's book on the site seems more creepy than outright immoral. Nonetheless, I've contacted Amazon to see if they plan to remove the book, and await their response.