Some of you may or may not be aware that I have been working on a novel based upon a true murder that took place in Asheville, North Carolina in July 1936. The crime in question is that of the brutal killing of Battery Park Hotel guest, Helen Clevenger. Clevenger was a college student from New York in town visiting her Uncle. As the story goes, Helen was shot and beaten in her hotel room by a hotel bellboy, Martin Moore who later confessed, saying that the murder was a robbery gone array.
I did quite a lot of research on the crime and the case during late 2008 and throughout 2009. I quickly came to the conclusion that there were far more questions than answers in the murder. Further, I’m not convinced that it was Moore who killed Miss. Clevenger. With these thoughts in mind, I contacted the Bumcombe County Court in hopes of getting hold of any court documents and/or police reports that have not been published. After a few phone calls, my aspirations of writing a true crime story on the event were crushed. The court records and accompanying police reports have long been destroyed.
Where does a writer go from here? After becoming quite invested in this story, I knew I couldn’t just stop and close up shop there. So, I embarked on writing a fiction tale based upon some of the events of that time. That was the book I worked diligently on during NaNoWriMo 2009 and continue to work on to this day. Not many a day goes by that I don’t think about my novel or the Clevenger case. When I was living in Western North Carolina, I found myself very drawn to the Battery Park Apartments (the hotel is now apartments for retirees). Even upon a brief return last May to pick up my remaining belongings from a friend from my move back to Florida, I had to see and photograph the Battery. The allure of the former hotel is felt in the Paris of the South, and I only hope my work of fiction can depict that feeling to the reader.