Facts versus Fiction

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening, dear friends

I do hope you’ve all survived the night and have sent the ghosts 👻 and other restless spirits back from whence they came. If you are still dealing with them, hang on in there as there’s a light 💡 at the end of a very dark tunnel. November 3rd is on its way. 😉

Anyway, after spending most of yesterday time-wasting, and with the help from my lovely adoptive sister across the pond, I’ve finally settled on a better setup for my webpage. I’ve also bought a domain, so I’m officially accepting that I’m a published author. All this year I haven’t really acknowledged that I’ve achieved what I set out to do, and actually far more. The loss of my two dearest writing friends, and their continuing encouragement has hit me hard. I’m sad it’s took me so long to reach my goal, and that I wasn’t able to really share this moment with them.

Paula, Nicky and Ivy

I do hope you weren’t confused by all the changes I’ve made to the site. I’ve upgraded it so there’s no more ads spoiling the layout of my clubhouse guest’s chats. I wanted a more professional look to the site as I begin to market my writing and future books. I’m hoping to be able to share more things with you as I progress with my writing career. I still have a lot to learn about building a blog, and how to get it to look the way I want it to, so please bear with me as I learn on the job.
Writing a novel has always been a personal challenge to me. It was never about being in competition with others. I never set out to be a crime writer, and romance wasn’t my thing. I knew I wanted to write dark. My main interest is in why people do things. What leads someone down one path rather than another.

My parents were divorced when I was fourteen so on a Saturday, I would walk round to my father’s house to see him and his new family. My father was a big fan of sci-fi and would give me the books he had finished reading. At sixteen, I used to catch a bus into work. If it was raining I’d shelter in a newsagents. Their bookstand was mostly full of romances and I would buy one to read on the bus. On the cover, most of them had a muscular man with no shirt or half a shirt on as his chest was exposed, holding a blond woman with flowing hair and heaving breasts looking up longingly into his eyes. The story was always the same sort of plot. Wicked relative was after a young woman’s fortune that she wasn’t aware of, and was due to inherit on her 21st birthday. A man is supposed to kill her/ dispose of her, but she is spared and is trafficked instead. Yet, somehow she escapes being raped and abused. The ending is always the same too the handsome rich gentleman would save her and her inheritance. I’m not knocking these books, but they weren’t a true reflection of life even to me at sixteen.

The books I did enjoy were Victoria Holt books. She always had an element of the gothic about them. I loved the darker side of life and read a lot of Pan Books of Horror when I was at school. These were quite tame and in the same vein as a Victorian Gothic tale.

What work of fiction truly reflects real life? Readers want escapism and a satisfying ending. Of course, as a writer while taking our readers on a fictional journey we must keep it as close to reality as possible. Whether it’s a romance, crime, sci-fi or family sagas.

Many crime novels don’t reflect how the real police officers work when dealing with an incident. As a reader I want to be entertained, I want to go on a journey of discovery with the main character. I don’t want to be bogged down in facts or have the author waving at me all the time saying… See I did my research.

I certainly won’t be fact-checking to see if the author has done their homework while reading their novel. If a novel grabs my attention I’m lost in the story. The only time I’m aware something isn’t right and pulled out of the story is if something is blaringly wrong or there’s a lot of information dumping. If a police officer is using a mobile phone in the 1960’s, this would jump out at me, because they only had radios.

Of course, you do have to check-facts. My novel Stone Angels was set in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. These years were in my lifetime, and the setting was in London and Suffolk, both places I had visited as a child during that timeline. But of course there were things I still needed to check out. Little things like makes of cars and brands of drinks, names of the roads James used to travel from his home in Suffolk to Basil’s London gallery. The music he listened to on the car radio. Did his car at that time have a radio? In the course of my research, I also found out things I didn’t know about and was able to weave into my story which helped to make it more believable.

But, and there’s always a but… there are things in my novel, I took liberties with i.e. James’ gardener’s Suffolk accent. The design of James’ home and garden. These were mainly little things to help create a more interesting story. The boarding school where James went didn’t have three lakes, and never had a teacher drown there. If a fiction writer becomes too bogged down in facts there’s no leeway for freedom of creativity, unlike a nonfiction writer whose job is to deal with facts, and cannot make things up. I love making sure that I’m as close to reality in my telling of stories as possible. If writers can’t push boundaries what is the point of writing fiction and dreaming the impossible.

In my single collection Days Pass Like A Shadow is a story called The Gardener. Jenny loves her garden more than anyone in her life and she will stop at nothing to get the garden she wants. It may surprise some people to know how deadliest some of the most beautiful plants are in our gardens. Well, Jenny knew and she put them to good use.

On my bookshelf I have a collection of writer’s digest books, called The Howdunnit Series. The series is a writer’s guide to Poisons, Missing Person, Scene of the Crime, Body Trauma etc and cover more American policing rather than British. In the slides above you can see I have a wide range of books on British Policing. These were used by police officers in 1927 and 1961. The practice of the office of the sheriff, under sheriff and the office of the Coroner 1831. I felt they would come in handy if I wrote another book where some police officers had a walk on spot.

Well, that’s my thoughts for today. If you have any thoughts of your own on my post, please add them to the box below. I look forward to hearing from you.




8 thoughts on “Facts versus Fiction

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      1. I research the heck out of stuff, but I have OCD tendencies, so I know I go overboard. I think the way you sprinkled details of the time period in Stone Angels was PERFECT. I also felt like the one-lake school was a real school and the house and art gallery and paint shop were real. If you had actual places in mind but tweaked them so no one could identify them, then you achieved your goal: they were so tangible in my mind as I was reading.

        Liked by 1 person

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