Thursday, December 7, 2017

Karen L. Cox

Karen L. Cox's latest book is Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South. The book focuses on a 1932 murder case in Mississippi, when an African American woman ended up in prison for a crime she didn't commit.

From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you research the book, and what did you learn that especially surprise you?

A: There were two things I did at the beginning. I visited Natchez. I went to see it, I wasn’t there to do any research, just get the feel of the town, its geography, its landscape, which I got more and more each time I went.

And the other thing—I started doing basic newspaper research and writing down all the names in the story—the principals, the attorneys, law enforcement, and witnesses. When I really started doing research, I could figure out who they are.

That’s how it began, with newspaper research. Then I began on-the-ground research in Natchez—fire insurance maps to get a sense of where the people lived, court records related to the case of Emily Burns, [the woman who was convicted,] but also records relating to Dick Dana and Octavia Dockery, [eccentric neighbors of the murder victim, who were involved in the case].

One of the places I did research was in an abandoned pie factory in Natchez. Court ledgers were...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue