Sometimes books are based on real life events and that seems to be true for Delia Owens, the author of the novel Where the Crawdads Sing. The first time author has been questioned about a murder just like her main character Kya.
The Incident in Zambia
In the novel, Kya, a girl who lives in the swamps in North Carolina and loves nature, is questioned about the murder of her former lover. Owens also has been caught up in a murder investigation in the 90’s in Africa involving her
Delia Owens and her former husband Mark ran the Owens Foundation for wildlife Conservation and moved to Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park to protect elephants from poachers.
The Zambian government gave the Owenses power over local scouts to keep poachers away from the elephants. “We know it’s a risk,” Mark said to PEOPLE in 1988. ”But we’ve fallen in love with this place, and we’re willing to take that risk.”
ABC’s Turning Point and a news crew went to Zambia to interview the Owens and while there, a trespasser (they weren’t sure if he was or wasn’t a poacher) was shot and cameraman Chris Everson recorded part of the incident. He claimed the shooter was Chris Everson, Delia’s stepson and Mark’s son from his first marriage.
Mystery Surrounding the Murder
Delia Owens denied accusations and said in 2010 to The New Yorker that poaching had ended by the time the camera crew arrived and that they made the story because they “just wanted something sensational.”
Once the Deadly Game episode aired, the Owenses left Zambia and moved to a remote place in Idaho and never returned. The Zambian authorities did press charges or name any suspects. They are still investigating the case and still want to question the Owenses. There is no extradition treaty between the United States and Zambia.
“There is no statute of limitations on murder in Zambia,” Zambia’s director of public prosecutions, Lillian Shawa-Siyuni told The Atlantic. “They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens.”
Success of Where the Crawdads Sing
Where the Crawdads Sing was published in August 2018 and has gone on to sell over 12 million copies and has spend 166 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It is now airing in theaters that was produced by Reese Witherspoon who picked the book for her book club in September 2018.