As a kid I always had a curious nature and loved asking questions, so mum suggested a career in journalism.
Best idea ever. I love it — especially working on true crime books.
Kathryn studied journalism at RMIT University in Melbourne and has worked in tv, print and radio.
While working for tv program 60 Minutes, Kathryn produced a story that spring boarded her from journalist to no.1 best selling author.
She’s now written four best selling true crime books.
Schapelle Corby My Story/ No More Tomorrows
Officials at Bali’s Denpasar airport found 4.2 kilos of marijuana in Australian tourist Schapelle Corby’s body board bag.
The 27-year beauty school student instantly claimed she didn’t put the dope into her bag.
It sparking a frenzied water cooler debate across Australia.
Did she or didn’t she?
Overnight ‘Schapelle’ became a household name.
Her true crime story held Australians spellbound.
Many months of media coverage later, the court case began.
Reporters and photographers crushed into the small Bali courtroom every week.
Then, it was verdict day. Every tv network in Australian ran live coverage.
It literally stopped the nation, like the Melbourne Cup famously does.
The verdict shocked.
The three judges sentenced the pretty blue eyed Aussie to 20-years in a Bali jail.
Soon afterwards, Schapelle and her sister Mercedes asked Kathryn to co-write Schapelle’s autobiography. It was an easy decision; Kathryn quit 60 Minutes and flew to Bali to work with Schapelle on her first true crime book.
It gave Schapelle a voice from her cell, and Kathryn a voice in true crime books.
The idea for Kathryn’s second book Hotel Kerobokan sprang from the weirdness, violence and intrigue she’d seen during the many hours inside the jail while interviewing Schapelle.
Kathryn conducted hundreds more interviews with prisoners, past and present including: Bali’s King of Denpasar who murdered his brother over a land dispute, the Bali Nine heroin traffickers, Gordon Ramsay’s brother Ronnie, Brazilian and Italian surfers and the jail’s security boss.
Like any hotel, the ‘guests’ can buy almost anything from room upgrades to sex parties, and days at the beach.
Italian jeweller Juri, sentenced to life imprisonment, enjoyed days at the Kuta Beach. He’d just pay the guards for a trip to the ‘dentist’ and spend the day swimming. His mum would carry a beach bag, full of machine guns, and the guards would sit on the sand in Juri’s board shorts.
Kathryn also exposed the jail’s endemic corruption; guards work for drug dealer prisoners to boost their meagre salaries. They ferry drugs in and out, and warn the dealers of police raids, and organise wild sex nights for any prisoners who can pay.
Hotel Kerobokan is an international bestseller.
The true crime book caused huge controversy on its release. The jail boss blacklisted Kathryn from entry for exposing the truth.
SNOWING IN BALI came next.
This true crime book broke the story of surfers on the island trafficking blow from South America to stay and pay for their surfing lifestyles; And how some of these surfers turned into the island’s top drug bosses.
Through contacts made from writing the first two books, Kathryn gained unprecedented access to the world of Bali’s biggest western drug bosses.
Many had already read Hotel Kerobokan and liked it. Importantly, this also proved Kathryn wasn’t an undercover cop.
She recorded interviews with many drug dealers, bosses and traffickers for two years.
The book takes readers deep into the world of orgies with models, luxury villas, first class travel and reveals secrets of trafficking between Sweden, Brazil, Bali, Amsterdam and Australia.
Two of those interviewed for this true crime book, Marco Archer Moreira and Rodrigo Gularte, were executed by firing squad in 2015 for trafficking drugs to Bali.
Operation Playboy, Kathryn’s fourth true crime book, gives a more global view of the playboy traffickers between Brazil, Amsterdam and Bali.
It tells both sides of the story; the Brazilian Federal police operation to hunt down the playboys.
Read news.com.au story about Operation Playboy here.
No More Tomorrows; Schapelle Corby My Story (updated)
Schapelle spent almost 10 years in Hotel Kerobokan, and returned home to Australia after three more years on parole in Bali. In this update Schapelle tells of the dark, the funny and the sad times. There were her suicide attempts, her descent into madness, falling in love with a fellow prisoner and finally her return home to the Gold Coast.
She’s since been on Dancing with the Stars and SAS Australia and tries to keep positive forward focus.
Kathryn is currently working on several new true crime projects.
News will be revealed on her instagram, @Kathryn.bonella