Category Archives: Docufiction

Brenda J. Woody. More than Murder. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009.

In More than Murder, Brenda Woody offers a glimpse into small town life in North Carolina in the 1960s.  When the two men who own the local record store are murdered there are a surprising number of potential suspects–some known to the police and some not.  The men threw wild parties attended by a mix of ne-er do wells, thrill-seeking teens, and a handful of “respectable” community members.  Someone started taking photographs of the goings-on at the parties and before long a blackmailer made demands to a few men.  Stopping the blackmail appears to be an obvious motive for the murders, but that doesn’t account for the third body found with the men’s corpses–that of a quiet woman who worked a factory job in a nearby town and kept to herself.  The local police chief thinks the photos are the key to the crime, but there are other factors in play, including loan sharking and drugs, along with a brother’s desire to protect his irresponsible brother and to preserve their family’s good name.

More than Murder is based on the true story of the murders of Vernon Shipman, Charles Glass, and Louise Davis Shumate in Hendersonville, North Carolina in July 1966.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Docufiction, Mountains, Woody, Brenda J.

Alice E. Sink. Ain’t No Bears Out Tonight. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2010.

It is the summer of 1951 in the fictional town of Piedmont, North Carolina and nearby Burnett Mill Village. For the fifty-odd years since Piedmont was founded by a band of upright gentleman, it has always appeared to be the very model of a wholesome community. But when Miss Amelia Miller is found murdered in her home, the peaceful citizens are forced to remember uncomfortable secrets they would rather forget. Frannie Cline, the little girl next door, finds her imagination gripped by Miss Amelia’s collection of antiques; in particular, a beautiful silver and opal pinkie ring. Unbeknownst to Frannie, the ring represents a dark time in Miss Amelia’s and Piedmont’s shared history, when social mores possessed greater value than human life.

Sink explores these towns using a large, diverse cast of characters that draws the reader back and forth in time between 1900 and 1951. Filled not only with murder but also racial and social conflict, the book gives the reader a taste of how attitudes began to change in small North Carolina towns in the first half of the 20th century.

Due to descriptions of sexuality and violence, this book is recommended for older teens and adults.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Docufiction, Historical, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Sink, Alice E., Suspense/Thriller

Donna Campbell Smith. An Independent Spirit: The Tale of Betsy Dowdy and Black Bess. Buford, GA: Faithful Publishing, 2006.

An Independent Spirit is based on the Revolutionary War-era story of Betsy Dowdy, who rode to warn a North Carolina general about the approach of British soldiers from Virginia. This book presents the year leading up to her famous ride, with fourteen year-old Betsy living on Currituck Island, riding her wild pony Black Bess, and traveling to Edenton. Betsy’s quiet life is interrupted when Virginia’s Lord Dunmore threatens her community and her beloved wild ponies. Her all-night ride from Currituck to Hertford brings news of troop movements and leads to a patriot victory at the Battle of Great Bridge. This edition of the book includes a bibliography and teacher’s guide.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Children & Young Adults, Chowan, Coast, Currituck, Docufiction, Historical, Smith, Donna Campbell

Robert W. Hester. The Battle for North Carolina: Historical Novel of the War between the States. Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing, 2008.

In this novel, the Civil War is far from over in December of 1864.  Confederate naval fighters in the waters off North Carolina defeat the Union navy’s blockade.  Wilmington and eastern North Carolina are still threatened, even though Sherman’s march through Georgia has destroyed his army, not Georgia.  This book tells a tale of fierce fighting along the Carolina coastal plain during the early months of 1865.  Historical figures appear, along with fictional characters whose presence adds romantic interest to the narrative and gives the reader a vivid sense of the war’s cost to civilians.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Craven, Docufiction, Hester, Robert W., Historical, New Hanover

Jeanie Sullivan. Nora’s Dream. Hickory, NC: Hickory Landmarks Society, 2008.

In this picture book, readers learn about Nora Shuford’s life growing up in Hickory in the late 1800s and about her dream of higher education. The story recounts the founding of Hickory’s Claremont College and the main character is based on the real Nora Shuford, whose family home–Maple Grove–is now a historical landmark and museum. The book is designed so the story can be read in either English or Spanish.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Catawba, Children & Young Adults, Docufiction, Piedmont, Sullivan, Jeanie

Flora Ann Scearce. Singer of an Empty Day. Mount Olive, NC: Mount Olive College Press, 1997.

Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Selena “Sippy” Wright lives in North Carolina’s Great Smokies, with her parents. After a fire destroys the family’s cabin, they go to live with Sippy’s Grandmother and her youngest three children, and, while life on Utah Mountain is hard, the family struggles and survives together. Sippy’s story is filled with the work, school, and play of mountain children, but also includes details about her father’s work, her mother’s housekeeping, her grandmother’s medicinal herbs, and the events, songs, and games that were important to mountain culture. Based on the journals and recollections of the author’s mother, this novel tells the story of Sippy’s childhood from ages seven to twelve; her story is continued in Scearce’s second novel Cotton Mill Girl, published in 2006.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1997, Docufiction, Haywood, Historical, Mountains, Novels in Series, Scearce, Flora Ann

Mark Slouka. God’s Fool. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Chang and Eng Bunker, the famous nineteenth-century conjoined twins from Siam (hence the term “Siamese twins”) are the subject of this novel. The brothers’ colorful life story is told from the viewpoint of Chang, following them all over the world, from Siam to Paris to stints in P.T. Barnum’s sideshows before they settle down to a quiet life in rural North Carolina. Slouka pays close attention to historical detail and portrays the brothers not as mere curiosities but as human beings, writing near the end of the novel about the close relationship between Chang and one of his sons.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2002, Docufiction, Historical, Slouka, Mark, Surry

Bland Simpson. The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

As far as anyone knew, the last person to see Nell Cropsey alive was her boyfriend Jim Wilcox, who left her crying on her front porch in November 1901 after he ended their relationship. The people of Elizabeth City, N.C. looked desperately for the young woman, relying on bloodhounds and even psychics in a search that brought national attention to the small town. Nell’s body was finally found floating in the Pasquotank River, a few weeks after she disappeared. Jim Wilcox was accused of the murder, even thought the evidence against him was only circumstantial and he hotly proclaimed his innocence. In this “nonfiction novel,” Simpson dramatizes the true story of Nell Cropsey with the touch of a novelist, relying on first- person narrators and period details to give an intimate look at small-town eastern North Carolina at the dawn of the twentieth century.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1993, Coastal Plain, Docufiction, Historical, Pasquotank, Simpson, Bland

Lawrence Naumoff. A Southern Tragedy, in Crimson and Yellow. Winston-Salem: Zuckerman Cannon, 2005.

In this work of “docufiction,” Naumoff explores the tragic 1991 fire at a chicken plant in Hamlet, N.C. in which many workers died when they were locked into the building, unable to escape from the flames. Naumoff engages many of the broader themes of the tragedy, looking at the struggles of the small town in a changing economy, and examining the complicated relationships between the employers and employees.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Docufiction, Naumoff, Laurence, Richmond

Philip Gerard. Cape Fear Rising. Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, 1994.

When Sam Jenks and his wife Gray Ellen move from Chicago to Wilmington, N.C. in August 1898, they find a city in turmoil. Amidst a vicious, racist political campaign, a group of white citizens begin to mobilize against the city’s large African American population. Based on the actual events of the November 1898 Wilmington riot that led to the murder of many African Americans and the violent overthrow of the city’s government, Gerard dramatizes one of the most significant periods in North Carolina history.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC Library Catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1994, Coast, Docufiction, Gerard, Philip, Historical, New Hanover