I first immersed myself in a Vancouver cold case investigation in 2003 when I volunteered as a researcher and student criminal profiler with the Babes in the Woods Task Force. I have worked alongside a retired homicide detective, a forensic odontologist, a provincial coroner and several journalists. The initial goal of my research was to help identify the children whose skeletal remains were found in Stanley Park on January 15, 1953. Little did I know the work would take me deep into creative process, to unexpected places, in unexpected directions, finding unexpected stories, guided by, what I can only call, unexpected ghosts. It has become my life’s work.
I originally wrote a massive manuscript as a criminal profile. I then workshopped the analysis into a creative and visual story – an illustrated scrapbook/graphic novel with drawings, photographs, text – shared in weekly online instalments between January 15, 2017 and January 13, 2018. As of January 2020, I have immersed myself even deeper into this project – the THIRD DRAFT – as I rework the mountain of material into a three part series. A graphic novel series? A book? A TV series? I will let the ghosts decide.
The analysis is based on extensive research, interviews and published accounts. I use mainly primary and secondary sources in order to build the story. I attempt to stick to the facts in the text and avoid assumptions, yet draw conclusions from the circumstantial evidence. Visual scenes are created for the purposes of dramatization. This is [currently] a work of creative nonfiction inspired by true facts, physical evidence and historical research. However, in the end, this is my artistic interpretation and nothing more than that.
The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas. – James Clear
“Creative” doesn’t mean inventing what didn’t happen, reporting and describing what wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that the writer has a license to lie. The cardinal rule is clear—and cannot be violated. This is the pledge the writer makes to the reader—the maxim we live by, the anchor of creative nonﬁction: “You can’t make this stuff up!” – Lee Gutkind
© Katarina Thorsen 2021
The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice.
– Mark Twain