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Trailed Author Kathryn Miles’ True Crime Favorites

Trailed Author Kathryn Miles' True Crime FavoritesWriting good true crime is hard, taxing work. Few authors (or investigators, for that matter) revel in the prospect of scanning crime scene photos and autopsy reports or asking survivors to relive the most painful moment of their lives. Along the way, the human aspect of victims—their subjectivity and agency, their personalities and unique features—can often become eclipsed by extended attention to their killers. That trend strikes me as problematic for multiple reasons. It’s true that, like a lot of true crime devotees, I find the psychology of criminals endlessly fascinating. But in my own work as a journalist, I have found that the most compelling stories are often those of the people most impacted by those crimes. To really understand the nature of violent crime, we must also bear witness to the residual trauma it leaves in its wake.

When I began to write Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders, I knew I wanted to include a fully fleshed and empathetic account of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans, the victims of that double murder. Both women were not only skilled backcountry leaders, but also generous and passionate advocates for social and environmental change. They fell in love while working at an outdoor program that focused on holistic wilderness experiences for women and girls. That backstory became the scaffolding on which to tell the story of their murder and why that crime continues to haunt so many people. As part of my research for Trailed, I dove headlong into the true crime genre to see how other writers managed to foreground the lives of victims and the legacies they left behind. Here are a few of my favorites:

 


About the Author

Kathryn Miles is the author of five booksHer essays and articles have appeared in publications such as AudubonBest American EssaysBest American Sports Writing, the BostonGlobe, the New York TimesOutsidePolitico, and Time. A contributing editor at Down East magazine, Miles also serves as a scholar-in-residence for the Maine Humanities Council and as a faculty member in several MFA programs. Her website is www.kathrynmiles.net.