Duke Southard

Author, Educator, Lecturer

True life novels? And an update . . .

Doc, a brilliant, well-written, thoroughly researched and fascinating novel written by Mary Doria Russell, is a wonderful example of how a work of fiction can define historical events and characters through authentic dialogue. My opinion, as many who know me are probably tired of hearing, is that the genre of true life or real life novels is an oxymoron. True life is non-fiction, right? Real life is non-fiction, correct? A novel is fiction, therefore not true life or real life.

However, Mary Doria Russell demonstrates how effective the combination of fact and fiction can be as she creates absorbing and empathetic characters of Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Big Nose Kate and others by weaving setting and dialogue into what is already an established historical plot.

I am mentioning this in the blog simply because so many people have suggested that I use the same techniques to change Murder in A Small Town: The Tragic Death of Stacey Burns into a novel. My initial reaction to this suggestion is a tongue-in-cheek response. “Who would ever believe it?” Of course, that is not true but one has to admit that the story has its bizarre moments.

The trip back to New Hampshire is now just several weeks away. As mentioned in previous blogs, that trip has a few objectives concerning the book project. Here are updates on some of those goals:

1. At this time, I am still waiting to hear from a realtor about setting up an appointment to tour the Burns house. (My descriptions of that house in the book are based on interviews with people who know the house intimately.)

2. Either no one knows or no one is willing to share the name of the hotel where Ed Burns spent the night with Michael Brabant. (I have several reasons for wanting to know this.)

3. Scott Gilbert of the New Hampshire State Police has not responded to my certified letter requesting fifteen minutes of his time in order to corroborate a few details. (A yes or no answer to a few questions would be sufficient. There is a chance I know why I haven’t heard from him.)

4. Requests for second interviews of some people have not been answered. (I am hopeful they are still considering the request.)

Watch for a full report on that trip in early October. In the meantime, you might want to consider attending “Adventures of a True Crime Neophyte,” the program explaining the process (how and why) of this book, on September 29, 2013 at Willing Workers Hall in Melvin Village, N.H. at 2:00 P.M. It will be 45 minutes with a q & a session to follow.  A book signing for the new edition of A Favor Returned will precede the program at 1:00 P.M.

Duke

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I'm Duke Southard, author, educator, and lecturer.

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