I Will Not Intentionally Tell the Truth

Posted on 10/10/2013 by

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I don’t write about real people or real events.* But sometimes real life sneaks in anyway. In Drink Me there is a throwaway line of description halfway through. It’s a very simple sketch outline of a piece of backstory that never comes into the book. It’s one line and one of my relatives read it, turned to me and said, Whoa, personal much?** And I immediately went, Oh crap. Not intentionally? Because I didn’t even notice when I wrote it, but I’m pretty sure that image was drawn straight out of our family history.

That sort of thing makes me eye everything I’ve written with deep and abiding suspicion. It also makes me twice as wary of including even simple things deliberately.

A very long time ago I had a fairly personal conversation with a friend and they said something that stuck powerfully in my head. So much so that I’ve wanted to use it in fiction ever since.

It would be so easy. It wasn’t situation specific. I wouldn’t have to attach it to a similar incident. I could just take that tiny fragment of incredibly evocative emotional description and use it for… well, I was going to say ‘for good’ but I’m not sure it would be.

Part of me thinks there’s no way the person in question even remembers that conversation, let alone that specific turn of phrase. But there’s another part of me that says  they will absolutely recognise it and be appalled and I can’t.

Words are cool but I’d rather not make people I care about flinch when they read my books.

* Okay, sometimes I sneak in true stories or quote actual dialogue but only when they’re really funny.

** Not a direct quote. I am finding it quite difficult, in fact, to imagine them saying ‘whoa’ in any circumstance. Although the idea is making me giggle so I’m going to leave it. Also now planning on asking them to say ‘whoa’ for me.

science fiction cityscape with policemen in the foreground