Using Imaginary to Tell a Nonfiction Story

File Sep 03, 9 19 24 AM
Behind these windows a gruesome murder took place.

Research Photographs of the Hunt Book

The hard re-editing and restoration of all the Hunt photographs I’ve gathered during this research since 2008 has been completed. Currently, out of the original photographic files I’ve re-edited and restored 160 photos. Unfortunately, not all of these images will make it into the main Hunt book when it’s published.

This collection of images I gathered during this research shows the in-depthness I’ve gone through while researching this book. Yes – 160 images is a lot.

I adamantly believe imaginary helps carry a nonfiction story. It is my goal the photos will help readers visualize this story as they make their way through this intertwined, challenging book. Connecting readers to the people and places being mentioned and referenced in this book will only strengthen this twisted true crime story.

How did I wind up with so many photos? That stems from me being thorough, as well as a photographer. Plus – it gave me my own frame of reference regarding the people that I lived with during this research, writing, and editing. I truly wish I had located images of everyone mentioned in this book so a face could be put with all the characters. Plus, my interpretive guide training taught me that images visually carry a story and help interpret the story’s main focal points, especially if its nonfiction.

Historical books I’ve read or glanced through in-depth, the photos in many of the books were lacking on various scales. Leaving me wondering what did this character look like or how did that town look like at that era of time. That’s something I did not want with the Hunt book. My vision has always been to show the images coinciding with each chapter – not stuck in the middle where you have to flip back and forth to see the image just referenced.

Guess what? Technically, I’m still not done with my photographic gathering. I need to travel to another couple of Texas towns where some of the story took place for two of the main characters. Visiting both Cameron and Huntsville, Texas, I need to see the town where Dr. W.R. Newton served as a doctor and I want to see “Old Sparky” in person and visit the grave of Leroy Kelley at the prison. Thus, the image count will only increase.

If there is interest in a stand-alone photographic book that includes all the photos it may be self-published to accompany the Hunt book.


Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography