The world of expanding mass media has given a platform to an American fascination: True Crime.
People interested in the subject of fact-based criminal stories have a myriad of mediums to choose from: podcasts, television cable networks, limited series, Hollywood films, and documentaries.
“All of those things are true, it’s all a new cool way of presenting an old story model,” says author and Casper, Wyoming Native, Ron Franscell. “What’s not in the best shape is True Crime Publishing.”
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Franscell has written 17 books in his career, many of them covering fact-based criminal stories. Recently Franscell co-wrote Morgue: A Life in Death with Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a celebrated American pathologist and an expert on the subject of gunshot wounds. The book was nominated for an Edgar Award.
Franscell’s latest book, Alice & Gerald is the focus of a series of Wyoming based signings and events.
Franscell appeared at the Natrona County Library on April 10th. He will be making other stops around the state, and is scheduled to be in Casper for an informal mixer on April 14th.
A full list of events can be found below.
Alice & Gerald is about a couple who, individually and together, murdered at least four people—probably five, as the book reveals—then eluded arrest for almost 40 years. Several of the events happened in Wyoming.
“You can watch a limited series or listen to a podcast, or watch an Investigation Discovery episode and get everything you wanted to know about any crime. It’s an hour, it’s free,” Franscell says. “All of that versus nine to twenty-five dollars for a book that you have to invest 6 to 7 hours into reading.”
While the popularity of True Crime books hasn’t seen much growth from the national phenomenon hitting other media, Franscell says that interest in the written word isn’t shrinking, either.
“It’s still popular in publishing, don’t get me wrong, or I wouldn’t be able to sell books. But, at best it’s holding where it’s been for many years.”
With that being said, Franscell says that he seeks, with his work, which has been favorably compared to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, to conjure genuine feelings, sensations, and locations. To show characters, not sources. To have dialogue, not quotes.
If you’re looking for blood spattered covers and titles with the word “fatal,” in them, Franscell says that he’s seeking to write a different kind of book.
Franscell grew up in Casper, and worked as journalist for many years. Newspapers in Wyoming, New Mexico and California’s Bay Area were where Franscell’s work called home. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Franscell says that he was dispatched by the Denver Post to cover the Middle East during the first few months of the Afghan war.
He now lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Franscell’s book debut was a fictional novel titled Angel Fire, published in 1998. He would not publish his first True Crime book until The Darkest Night in 2007.
Alternatively released under the title Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town, Franscell’s The Darkest Night covered the Casper-based story of Amy Burridge and her older sister, Becky Thomson, who were kidnapped in 1973. Burridge was raped, murdered, and thrown into Fremont Canyon. Becky, who was also raped and thrown into the canyon, managed to climb out with severe injuries and saw her attackers eventually put behind bars. Years later, the adult Thomson died at the same area of Fremont Canyon.
Franscell grew up as a neighbor to the young sisters, and the crimes had a profound effect on him, as well as the residents of Casper at the time.
“That was such a bestseller that suddenly my literary agent, editors…Nobody out there wanted me to do anything except True Crime, because now we have an audience. Now we have a place to stand.”
Alice & Gerald, Franscell’s Latest, tells the grisly story of a loving couple who killed at least four people, and lived happily ever after—while cops desperately tried for decades to piece together a tale of murder and secrets.
According to a description on Franscell’s website, “the appalling details are made even more vivid by Ron Franscell’s familiarity with the Wyoming times and places that formed the backdrop of his national bestseller The Darkest Night.”
“I lived there. Over the summers I worked construction jobs and a couple of times in the oil field, always with the kind of people that I describe in the kinds of places I describe. I know the landscape and the mindscape intimately.”
Franscell says that he not only wants to conjure Wyoming as a character in the Alice & Gerald story, but as a partial conspirator.
“The countryside, the place aids and abets the bad guys,” Franscell says. “It gives a place to hide their behavior, to hide their victims.”
In addition to wanting to cast Wyoming as a character in the narrative, Franscell also said that he comes from an old school of journalism where he wanted to share space with the events. Franscell returns to the state for research purposes whenever he writes about Wyoming.
“I believe in being there, so I stood in all the places I talk about.”
When it comes to the overall popularity of True Crime as a genre, Franscell says that the answer is one that is possibly very old, dating back to early forms of storytelling.
“We want to know what’s happening that can kill us. We want a certain morality play. We want to see good and evil, we ultimately want to see good triumph,” Franscell says. “We want to be a little afraid of the randomness of these things.”
Ron Franscell is visiting Wyoming currently to promote the release of Alice & Gerald. The following events are scheduled:
Meet the Author, reading, Q&A, and book signing event. Sponsored by the Natrona County Public Library and Wind City Books.
- April 10th
- 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
- Natrona County Public Library
- 307 E 2nd St, Casper, WY
Meet the Author, reading, Q&A, and book signing event. Sponsored by the Laramie County Library.
- April 11th
- 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Laramie County Library
- 2200 Pioneer Ave, Cheyenne, WY
Meet the Author, reading, Q&A, and book signing event. Sponsored by the Fremont County Public Library in Riverton
- April 12th
- 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
- Fremont County Library- Riverton
- 1330 W Park Ave, Riverton, WY
Meet the Author, reading, Q&A, and book signing event. Sponsored by the Fremont County Public Library in Lander
- April 12th
- 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Fremont County Library- Lander
- 451 N 2nd St, Lander, WY
‘Alice & Gerald”: Casper Mixer @ Wyoming Bootleggers
- April 14th
- 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
- Wyoming Bootleggers
- 240 W 1st St, Casper, WY
- A chance to meet Ron Franscell, author of the new true crime book Alice & Gerald in an informal setting in his hometown—and get your book signed.
‘Alice & Gerald’ book event in Douglas @ Converse County Library
- April 15th
- 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Converse County Library- Douglas
- 300 Walnut St, Douglas, WY