Fiction and Facts -- Writing a Fact Based Novel
There have always been historical occurrences that seem to mesmerize people. Throughout recorded times, random events over-lap, causing something that seems to change everything.
News of the Titanic sinking had people on both of the Atlantic incredulous. Everyone who was out of diapers at the time, remembers when Kennedy was shot. No, let me correct that -- they remember where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been killed. And half a century later, the attack on the Twin Towers became the current generation's 'historical mile-marker'.
In the same way, on a much smaller scale, horrific crimes have grabbed the spotlight. 'Leopold and Loeb', Son of Sam', 'the Zodiac Killer', 'the Uni-Bomber', and the Lindbergh kidnapping are only a few of the events that captured the twentieth century public's attention.
The nineteenth century had its own share spectacular crimes throughout the years between 1801 and 1900. However, the ones that are probably best remember -- because of their extensive coverage in the then emerging 'yellow press' happened near the end of the era.
In 1888, a murdering psychopath, the gutter press named Jack the Ripper, slashed his way through the east end London slum of Whitechapel -- leaving, at least five prostitutes -- not just murdered, but mutilated, as well. Four years later, across the Atlantic, the mill of town of Fall River, Massachusetts experienced its own horrific mutilating murders.
On the morning of August 4th, 1892, the cry of murder echoed in the streets of Fall River. At first, it was believed that only the wealthy business man, Andrew Borden, had fallen victim to an axe-wielding murderer. A short while later his second wife, Abby Durfee Borden, body was discovered in an upstairs bedroom.
Only five people resided in the extremely modest home on Second St.: the owner, Andrew Borden and his current wife, Abby; Andrew's two surviving daughters from his first marriage -- forty-two year-old Emma and her thirty-two year-old sister, Lizzie; and the housemaid -- twenty-five year-old, Irish immigrant, Bridget Sullivan.
At the time of the murders, the older daughter, Emma, was away -- had been away for almost two weeks. Mr. and Mrs. Borden were deceased. That left only the second daughter, Lizzie; and the little housemaid, Bridget, alive, in residence, and somehow spared brutalization. And, because of the rather strange arrangement of rooms in the little house, suspicion soon center on Bridget and Lizzie.
Lizzie was arrested after only three days of what the police claimed 'extensive' investigation. She was held for over ten months, before she was tried and found 'not guilty'.
No one else was ever prosecuted and Lizzie spent the remainder of her life beneath a veil of suspicion that she had 'gotten away with murder'. Over the years, many writers have put forth their own theory of the murders. And now, it's my turn.
I've always been fascinated by this mystery. I can understand how pent up frustrations could bubble up, and end in a blood-bath. After all, it happens much more often than any of us would truly like to admit.
I've read just about everything written about Lizzie Borden. I've watched the serious movie (the one starring Elizabeth Montgomery -- that stayed very close to the known facts -- as opposed to the Scream Queen rip-offs) and TV documentaries; and I've thought a lot about everything I've read.
It was only natural that I'd form my own 'pet' theory.
As a writer, I get to make up all kinds of things; heroes and villains, new worlds, and exciting plot lines. But, this was different. Oh, I still get to mold characters and manipulate story lines. However, this time I had to stay within certain parameters.
Make no mistake, 'Sisterly Love' is a novel; but I've gone to great length to stick as close as possible to the known facts of the case. I've just chosen to interpret them in a unique way.
Anyone who knew anything regarding the murders is long dead. Although, there are tantalizing rumors that Lizzie's defense attorney left some papers that may reveal new information -- if his heirs decide to release any of them.
We will probably never really know what happened that morning.
But I have an idea…