Greg Lilly

Greg Lilly

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Fiction ==> Non-Fiction

 Jumping into the True Crime pool.

I have published fiction since 2008--five novels, three middle grade books, and several short stories. 

To make a living, I have edited and written white papers, artists' bios, sales collateral, grant applications, arts & culture magazine articles, and a swimming pool full of personal profiles for Williamsburg's Next Door Neighbors magazine.

(10+ years of writing five profiles a month = over 600 articles published @ 2,000 word per profiles [I did this calculation for me] grand-totals to: 1,200,000 published words in just the NDN magazine.)

I moved back to southwest Virginia after many years living in other areas of the country. As we drove around Abingdon, Virginia, to see houses, our real estate agent pointed to a two-story home in the heart of the historic district. “The Murder House is available,” he said. Immediately, I said, “No. Actually, hell no.”

Maybe, I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss it. We bought a house about a block away–without a criminal history. During the pandemic, I attended a Fourth of July cookout at the Murder House. All the neighbors had stories to tell of the killing of a 22-year-old WWII Marine who boarded with a 44-year-old widow and her three daughters. Some tales were shocking, some fantastical, others scandalous.

I had finished my latest book and began plotting a novel, but the Murder House tale lured me to dig deeper. Newspaper coverage of the 1945 murder, investigation, and trial revealed the facts and the fascination the nation had with the crime.

Research revealed more twists and turns than fiction. Characters were exposed by primary sources like birth certificates, census listings, military documents, death certificates, and then the information found in old newspapers added layers of captured dialogue and attitude to these long-gone, real-life people.

This HAD to be my next project.

I was feeling like William Holden at the poolside.

I researched, wrote a chapter outline, created character profiles (I know that's a fiction term), and then tapped my business writing experience to craft a proposal.

Arcadia Publishing's The History Press offered to publish the true crime. The editor told me that she liked that I had a fiction background to warm up the cold facts, breathing life into them and making the story come alive.

I like that, too.

This week, The History Press gave me the publication date for Abingdon's Boardinghouse Murder -- May 2024.


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