As interest in true crime podcasts and documentaries continues to soar, Christian publisher Barbour is launching a six-book fiction series based on actual events in American history. The new True Colors series will include cases of murder, kidnapping, and grave-robbing—each inspired by the past, said Barbour’s senior editor Rebecca Germany.
“What if we put fictional characters into true-life events, and have them experience those events,” Germany asked, while speaking to PW. “We sent out a list of interesting crime stories to potential authors and let them choose; they then sent in proposals based on that list. Some proposals highlighted crimes I didn’t know about.”
According to Germany, the books will not be gory, “but they will include heart-pounding moments,” she said. Barbour is categorizing the faith-based series as suspense first, then romance, because each book will include a romantic element.
The inaugural title in the series, The White City by Grace Hitchcock, is based on the crimes of serial killer H. H. Holmes during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. “Holmes is a pretty well-known serial killer, which makes a good starting point for the series,” Germany said. “The author uses some of his real employees as characters, but the main characters of the novel are fictional.”
The book, which is being published on March 1, follows Winnifred Wylde who believes she witnesses a kidnapping at the Fair, but has a hard time convincing her father, a police inspector. He later agrees that there may be something to her claim, as there are other women missing, and with protection from a bodyguard, Winnifred goes undercover at the workplace of the prime suspect—Holmes.
Book two, The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma, is set in Memphis, Tenn. and features the crimes of Georgia Tann, a serial kidnapper who ran a fraudulent child adoption agency during the 1930’s. It’s slated for publication in June. Additional books in the series include The Yellow Lantern by Angie Dicken (Aug.), which depicts the once-common, grisly medical practice of exhuming dead bodies; The Gray Chamber by aforementioned author Hitchcock (Jan. 2020), which follows journalist Nellie Bly who went undercover to reveal the horrors of a women’s asylum; and The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear (Mar. 2020), set in the late 18th century along the Wilderness Road during a years-long killing spree. Book six is to be determined.
The initial print run for The White City is 10,000 copies, and the publisher is placing ads on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads, and more. Germany hopes to also reach the library market: “We are including author notes that will get readers excited about delving into the history of the events, which libraries really like."
Barbour is "certainly" open to expanding True Colors "if the series sparks interest and readers want more," Germany said. “I’d love to expose readers to the untold [crime] stories of history.”