Finding a good story to write about can be really challenging. I write non-fiction and I love to find stories about crimes that happened in the early 1900s that have been forgotten by the world. It doesn’t sound like a very difficult hurdle to get over, does it? There are many great stories out there that meet this criteria but finding one I can actually write about can be tough because, so often, not enough information has survived. The newspapers would obsess over a story for a few months and abruptly stop writing about it before any resolution was reached when something else came onto their radar. There were no electronic records, and fires were a commonplace occurrence that was apt to destroy vital records, court transcripts, etc.
A lot of the cases that I write about here on Old Spirituals were initially cases I was researching in hopes of using the story for a book. By the time I discover that not enough records and data have survived, I’ve usually gathered quite a bit of information already. Rather than just toss aside what I was able to find out, I usually write about these stories on this website. I know if I don’t that chances are, what’s left of these stories will be forgotten and no one will ever hear about them again. Death in Knoxville, The Mysterious Disappearance of Nell Cropsey, and The Kings of Louisiana are just a few of the stories on Old Spirituals that I was initially hoping to use for a book.
If a person was famous, it’s much more likely that information about them was preserved. I do write posts on Old Spirituals about famous people like Evelyn Nesbit, early 1900s It Girl and the woman at the center of one of the most famous love triangles of all time, Mata Hari, the exotic dancer and spy from the Great War, and the mysterious death (?) of John Wilkes Booth, the actor and assassin of Abraham Lincoln. But if I’m going to write a book, I want to write a story people haven’t heard before.
Funny enough, my first two books were about cases I’d already profiled on Old Spirituals! I’ve always loved to write but didn’t seriously think about writing a book until I’d already had this website for several years and had written about dozens of cases. I’d come across Jennie Bosschieter’s story and written a few posts about it here. Later, when I decided to write a book, her story was the one that stayed in my mind and the one I chose to write about. Eventually, Jennie’s story became my first book, The Poisoned Glass, and it was released in August 2019.
Later, when my publisher asked me to write a second book, I initially went looking for a story I’d never covered but I kept thinking about the Burdick case that I’d written about on Old Spirituals…in 17 installments, if I remember correctly! That became my second book, Cold Heart, which was released in December 2020.
Which brings me to a hint about some big news I will soon be sharing!
Last September, after I wrapped up the manuscript for my third book, Has it Come to This?, I was planning to take a break from writing for at least a few months. I’d worked really hard on that book and it was different from the other two–I don’t know why but I felt very drained by the time it was finished. I didn’t feel up to researching potential stories, let alone writing anything.
I figured I would turn all my attention to my coaching business, Pivot Discovery, and just focus on that. Has it Come to This? was set to be published in March 2022, which was still six months away. I figured by then–maybe–I would be ready to start looking for a new story.
Famous last words! Stay tuned for a big announcement coming soon!