Richard McCann: 'I can't forgive the Ripper for killing her'

The writer, now 36, was five when his mother, Wilma McCann, became the first victim of Peter Sutcliffe
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The Independent Culture

I believe what goes around comes around and you can't avoid it.

I believe shared values are the most important thing in a relationship. My fiancée and I are from different worlds. She grew up travelling and living in places like Kenya, with happy stable parents. After my mum died, I grew up in a council flat with my father who had a drink problem. Despite all this, our values and morals are the same.

I believe that writing about an experience can be cathartic and is a powerful tool. I had always been associated with my mother's murder and there was a lot of shame. I felt like we were damaged goods. For me, writing about it enabled me to tell the world what I have been through and it was liberating.

I believe everyone should walk somewhere every day.

I believe forgiveness is better than resentment, but that it isn't always possible. I have explored the idea of forgiving Peter Sutcliffe but I don't feel I'm able to because he has shown no sign of remorse.

I believe education is extremely important. I used to be intimidated by people who went to university. Now, I'm studying social policy at Leeds University and it's challenging but I love learning about the world around me.

I believe you should look on the funny side of life. Humour can get you through the bad times.

I believe that eating healthily becomes more important the older you get. I used to just eat processed food but my fiancée is a great cook and has introduced me to healthy food.

I believe in fate and deep down I feel that things, however bad they may seem, happen for a reason. Horrific as my mum's death was, it has helped the hundreds and thousands of people who have contacted me to say that they were touched or inspired in some way by my book.

I used to believe that drugs gave me confidence and liberated me from my fears. I ended up in prison serving six months for drug dealing. Today, I don't smoke and drink only occasionally.

I believe it is possible to claw yourself back from the brink. When I left prison I hit rock bottom. I had a joint suicide pact with my sister and it was only when she took an overdose that I realised I had to live to be strong and help her to live. Wanting to protect her gave me something to live for. Somehow I pulled myself back up.

I believe in dancing. I love salsa - the people, the music, the scene. It's liberating and it frees the mind.

I believe that losing my mother has given me the ability to communicate with people on a different level. I was part of her at one point, and losing her has given me a deeper understanding of pain and distress and bereavement. It's something you can only understand if you've gone through it.

I believe shopping can be dangerous for those who are unable to stop themselves spending thousands of pounds on things they will never wear and getting into debt.

I believe my strengths are compassion, understanding, and an ability to sympathise. My weaknesses are taking on too may things and not being able to say no.

I believe capital punishment is wrong but I do believe Peter Sutcliffe should be locked up in prison until he dies.

I believe having a child is the most exciting thing in the world. When I was younger, I was concerned that I would be similar to my abusive father. Our first baby is due in August and I'm determined not to repeat history.

I believe that children need the love of their parents, guidance, rules and boundaries in order to feel confident and secure.

I believe that there is something bigger than me and that we have a relationship but I'm not a practicing Christian.

I believe the best way to exist is to live life to the full and never take anything for granted.

I believe it is important to talk about things openly with children. We didn't receive any counselling when our mother was murdered, which made our situation worse than it could have been.

I believe in travel. I would love to go to China or trekking in a jungle.

I believe my mum still guides me in terms of what is right and what is wrong.

Richard McCann was talking to Danielle Demetriou. 'Into The Light', his follow-up to the best- selling 'Just A Boy', is now available (Ebury Press, £14.99).