the third rainbow girl - the authors guild

The Third Rainbow Girl
Emma Copley Eisenberg in conversation with Paul Whitlach

This From Manuscript to Marketplace event features Emma Copley Eisenberg, the author of The Third Rainbow Girl, in conversation with Paul Whitlatch, executive editor at Crown. The author and editor discuss the book’s journey, marketing a hybrid book that does not fit neatly into a genre, the process of fact-checking in nonfiction, and more behind-the-scenes details.  

From Manuscript to Marketplace panel discussions take place via Zoom and include time for a Q&A. All writers are encouraged to attend, especially new authors looking to learn more about the business of writing and publishing. 

If you would to purchase The Third Rainbow Girl, we recommend purchasing from Emma's local bookstore The Head & The Hand Books

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Emma Copley Eisenberg’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in McSweeney’s, The New York TimesGranta, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, Guernica, The New Republic, The Washington Post Magazine, Esquire and others. Her first book of nonfiction is The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia (Hachette Books). She lives in Philadelphia, where she directs Blue Stoop, a hub for the literary arts. Her next two books, a novel and a collection of short stories, will be published by Hogarth (Penguin Random House) in approximately 2022 and 2024. 

Paul Whitlatch is an executive editor at Crown, an imprint of Random House. The best-selling and award-winning books he has acquired and edited include Liza Mundy's Code Girls, Alexis Okeowo's A Moonless, Starless Sky, Andrew Yang's The War on Normal People, and Billion Dollar Whale by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright. Whitlatch previously held editorial positions at Hachette, Scribner, and W. W. Norton. 


About The Third Rainbow Girl
Eight years ago, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, author Emma Copley Eisenberg learned about the murder in 1980 of Nancy Santomero, 19, and Vicki Durian, 26. Emma was astonished to learn that their bodies had been found just down a remote country lane from where she was then living. The deaths of these young women, who were killed while hitchhiking to a peace festival known as the Rainbow Gathering, had once been national news (the media dubbed them “The Rainbow Murders”), only to fall into obscurity. For thirteen years no one was prosecuted for the murders, though suspicion was cast on a succession of local men. In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a schizophrenic serial killer named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. In time, Emma became obsessed with this crime—long unsolved—whose investigation seemed to reflect so much of her adopted community’s tensions. She decided she wanted to understand what had happened, and what it meant  

In The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia, Eisenberg uses the mysterious and misunderstood Rainbow Murders as a starting point for her account of how these murders can been seen as a trauma experienced on a community scale. Switching between reporting, memoir, and cultural criticism, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of West Virginia, forming a searing portrait of America, its divisions of gender and class, and its violence. In so doing, she examines and challenges the stories outsiders tell about Appalachia.  


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