Recently there seem to be a lot of articles and even seminars regarding whether using Fact in writing Fictional novels is a “pure” form of writing, or simply a cheat. My first reaction was – Huh?  Surely fact and experience are the basis of any fictional novel, because without some knowledge, how can a writer create the fictional world of the novel that relates to the real world?

Then I thought that these articles had a point. As the author of AN UNQUIET AMERICAN, a novel based on Fact, I thought that I was enhancing the Facts through Fiction and creating a landscape that better illustrates the history of our world seen through the eyes of someone who had lived through the times described in the book. It seemed to me that interlacing Fact and Fiction made the story richer, more informative and very much more entertaining, as well as enabling me to touch subjects that, through a non-fiction book, would have been impossible to publish.

During the French Revolution, the so-called “Gutter Press” used Fact in fFction in their articles, books and plays, to illustrate the squalid social conditions and to lampoon the Royal Court and Government equally. Charles Dickens did the same, as did Jonathan Swift who wrote satire as a way to highlight the social conditions of his day without getting himself arrested. Today in most Western Countries it is easy to write Fact without Fiction, but is it always as invigorating, informative and entertaining? There are certainly novels that are written by authors with nom de plumes to hide from the facts they are writing, a practice I personally do not subscribe to, because I feel that as an author I have a responsibility to my readers and should be accountable for the words I write. In our so-called Free Society the danger is the there is too much “Fiction in Fact” as books are produced simply to force a political view with little regard to The Facts.

So writing Fact in Fiction is actually a dangerous business which is not be taken as lightly as I so arrogantly thought when I initially read the articles. We have a responsibility as writers to ensure that we treat our craft carefully and seriously, with great thought and purpose, and always to be ready to face our readers and critics openly and with honesty.