Join Christopher Goffard, creator of Dirty John, for a talk about the famous podcast.
With more than 10 million downloads in just six weeks, the true-crime podcast Dirty John has become an international phenomenon. The suspenseful, psychologically complex six-part series was described by the New Yorker as a “thrilling, horrifying, and expertly done” story about “the darkest sides of the human need for love.”
Creator, writer and host Christopher Goffard is coming to Australia for the first time in March for live conversations about the series that has dominated the Apple podcast charts.
Goffard, a novelist and veteran reporter for the Los Angeles Times, was recently dubbed the “reigning king of serialised journalism.” He spent nearly a year researching and writing the Dirty John podcast, produced in partnership between the Los Angeles Times and Wondery, the podcast network.
The story follows Debra Newell, a successful interior designer in Southern California, who meets a man named John Meehan on an over-50 dating website and quickly marries him. Charming, handsome, and doting, he tells her he is an anesthesiologist. But he harbors secrets about a dark past, plus a thirst for vengeance and control, as she discovers to her horror.
It’s a true story of deception and cruelty, of a con-man who exploits the fraught dynamics of a California family that has its own troubled past. The podcast features Goffard’s interviews with Newell and her family, Meehan’s sisters and ex-wife, and the veteran policeman who hunted Meehan and called him “the most devious, dangerous, deceptive person I ever met.”
Goffard shared in the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2011, and has twice been a Pulitzer finalist for feature writing. He is the author of two books–a novel, Snitch Jacket, which was a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel; and You Will See Fire: A Search for Justice in Kenya, which critic Peter Orner called “one of the finest non-fiction books set in Africa in recent years.”
With more than 1,000 published stories, Goffard has written about serial murderers and prison gangs, psychopaths and contract killers. Still, he says, “something about John Meehan chilled me in a way nobody else has.” He describes Meehan as “a creature of seemingly implacable menace, like something out of a Cormac McCarthy novel.”
Dirty John is Goffard’s first podcast, and he says tackling the new format has reinvigorated his love of storytelling. He calls it “a cautionary tale that can potentially save lives,” with a granular look at the dynamics of psychological control and manipulation.
Ticket-buyers will get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Dirty John and the challenging reporting process, and will learn fascinating details that never made it into the podcast. There will be a live Q & A.
“Making Dirty John became an all-consuming obsession for me,” Goffard says. “I’m looking forward to coming to Australia and sharing some stories about how it came together and why I think it’s penetrated the zeitgeist.”
This performance contains adult themes.