How to Track a Killer...and Write About It!

Creative Nonfiction

In his writing blog, Find Your Creative Muse, Dave Hood provides a great summary definition of Creative Nonfiction:

A historical text presents the facts and causes and effects, and significance. Creative nonfiction does the same, but also adds narrative, including storytelling, dialogue, setting, character development. Writing Nonfiction History relies on an authoritative tone and is written in the third person." 

Creative NonfictionIn this episode, we interview Jim Cosgrove, author of the creative nonfiction title Ripple: A Long, Strange Search for A Killer. You may be familiar with Cosgrove as a nationally recognized, award-winning children’s entertainer known by young fans as Mr. Stinky Feet. He is also the author of three children’s books and Everybody Gets Stinky Feet, a collection of inspirational essays from his time as a parenting columnist for The Kansas City Star. Cosgrove spent his time during the COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdown to finish his incomplete investigative work focused on finding the killer of a family friend, Frank McGonigle. His resulting book, Ripple, is Cosgrove's story about Frank's cold case. He uncovers connections to a ruthless local crime boss and the blunders by the threadbare sheriff's department.

“Our story is no different from what a lot of families have dealt with. A child, a brother, whoever. They got murdered in a violent way that didn’t make any sense.

~Ripple, A Long Strange Search for a Killer - Jim Cosgrove

We use Jim's book as an exemplar of creative nonfiction because he walks us through his experience researching and writing. We truly get the story behind the story! We also bring in Local History Librarian Amanda Wahlmeier who walks us through regional reference resources available so you too can research the next great creative nonfiction true crime novel!

Our Recommendations:     
Charles’ Choices: Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and The Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin & The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.   
Dave’s Double-feature: visit the streaming video section of our eLibrary: On Kanopy you'll find Capote—a biographical drama about the author Truman Capote and his writing of the non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. It details the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas. And, All the President’s Men—both the movie on DVD and the book by Carl Bernstein. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford star in this true story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovering the White House involvement in the Watergate break-in.  
From our guests: search for Jim Cosgrove in our catalog and you’ll find the title we discussed today: Ripple in print, eBook and downloadable audiobook formats. You’ll also see 12 other titles by Jim—music and books for kids—which just goes to show what a diversely talented individual Mr. Cosgrove is!  
From our catalog: Creative Nonfiction  
A Helpful Writing Resource: Find Your Creative Muse. Learn How to Write Poetry, Fiction, Personal Essays, and More, a blog by Dave Hood.