Saturday, October 5, 2019

How fictional is fiction anyway?

A common question from readers relates to how real characters and incidents in a fictional novel are. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Or seems to be. If you're an avid SciFi reader or Fantasy reader, clearly many other-worldly beings and events are fictional. Make-believe. Never gonna happen. But even characters and events in these genres have an elemental truth to them.

There are so many times a story leaps off the page as if it could be true. The characters real. And leaves the reader wondering whether the writer has based their story on personal experience.

Often that answer is yes. Or no.
Or might be.

The truth is a mixture of all of the above. Writers do tend to incorporate their own personal experiences into their writing. How much is dependent upon what they are writing and whether it's relatable. Writers also tend to not answer the question. Because what fun would that be?

My debut novel, All About Annie, is a classic example of how this all comes together. The book, aboout a woman who sees herself in the pages of a bestselling mystery, has her wondering, is it real? Is she imagining things? Why would someone write about her?

Among friends and relatives who've read the book, there are those who insist half the book must be from my own past. Others who insist none of it relates to me. But they all want to know if it does. And I would never tell. Some think they are in the book. See themselves in there. Which makes me secretly smile and nod. I've done my job. Made them wonder. And this is the beauty of fiction.

A good novel draws you in. It provides you with a relatable story. Relatable characters. And sometimes it gives you the sense that it could happen to you. It could be you. Or not. So next time you pick up a good book and feel like it's partly telling your story? Smile, appreciate it, and let the author know they did their job. Because the review I received above? Yeah, made my day, month, year. I am eternally grateful for the compliment.

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