True Crime Fans Have a New Publication To Follow
True Crime Adjacent will cover topics sure to interest fans of the genre, such as criminology research and the ethics of true crime.
True Crime Adjacent is a new Medium publication about the things that are close to true crime, but that aren’t actual True Crime itself.
I know these things will interest true crime fans because I’m a life-time fan myself. I was a fan before my graduate degree in criminology and criminal justice policy. I was a fan before I was a journalist. In fact, I was already a fan when I was a teenager in rural Ontario applying to undergraduate criminology programs.
It may be easiest to understand what TCA is by considering what it won’t be.
What is true crime?
If you’re a long-time true-crime fan, the answer to this question seems kind of obvious, but it’s worth considering. “What is true crime?” is actually an example of the kind of question that TCA will explore, and that I’ll return to in other articles. We’ll consider it briefly here since it will help explain what TCA is.
Today, true crime may be most associated with podcasts and streaming docuseries, but the genre has perhaps been around longest in print. Traditionally, true crime was a genre largely determined by publishers, so it’s instructive to look at how they define it.
In How to Write & Sell True Crime, Gary Provost shares some definitions of true crime books from people in the book industry. I particularly like the one from Charles Spicer at St. Martin’s:
I define a true crime book as one involving a murder. It’s not about art theft, it’s not about governmental cover-up. It’s really a case involving a murder in which there’s an investigation and usually a trial.
I’m looking for a true crime where there’s a story… You have to have layers. The best of the true crimes give you some insight into characters, usually the character of the killer, and the situation that produced the crime.
To look at it from another angle, true crime has received a great deal of attention from academics. For example, in Toward a Theory of True Crime, Ian Case Punnett looks at ten true crime works, ranging from a piece by Dashiell Hammett in a 1924 issue of True Detective Mysteries to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and from Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me to Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos’ Making a Murderer.
One way Case Punnett defines true crime is taxonomically, in its relation to other narrative:
A taxon of true crime would follow thusly: As a class, true crime exists under ‘narrative,’ in the order of ‘nonfiction narrative,’ in the family of ‘nonfiction crime narrative.’ Then, under ‘nonfiction crime narrative,’ true crime is of the genus ‘nonfiction murder narrative,’ and finally, as a distinct species, ‘true crime’ (Latin: crimen veritas). True crime is related to other literary genres much in the way that Labrador retrievers are related to arctic fox.
Case Punnett also builds a system for determining whether a given work is true crime or not, but that’s perhaps best left to a story of its own, one that will be published in True Crime Adjacent.
What kind of stories will you find in True Crime Adjacent?
TCA will publish stories that put the events described in true crime into context, stories about true crime, and stories about nonfiction crime media that don’t fall under the “true crime” umbrella. For example:
- Articles about criminology & criminal justice research
- Articles about the ethics of true crime, the uses and effects of true crime, and reviews of new and old true crime works
- Articles about memoirs by victims or about journalism examining crime or criminal justice
Is True Crime Adjacent open to submissions?
TCA is a one-person shop and is not open to submissions.
Where is True Crime Adjacent?
Go follow True Crime Adjacent.
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