Thursday, September 20, 2007

Factual People In Fictional Stories

Writers have two kinds of relatives: those who fear turning up in the writer's stories and those who fear not turning up there. My sister Kate, whom I adore, has always complained that I never put her in my fiction. I have tried; once I named a hurricane after her. She said that was not going to cover it. Some people are never happy.
So I tried to put her in my China story, but she won't fit. For the female character, I need a bossy pragmatist, and Kate is a sweet-natured (usually) romantic. But if I had put her in, and it was an unflattering treatment, what then? J.P. Donleavy said that if you publish your first novel and nobody sues you, you haven't been honest enough. Might be a bit of an exaggeration.
Anyway, Kate wouldn't sue me. I know too much about her (and vice-versa). Between sisters, these things are handled more discreetly. By blackmail.


Marsha Sisolak said...

Hrm. I have five younger siblings, whom I have never even thought to immortalize in any of my tales.

Not that I would repair that lack. It's simply great blackmail: Be nice or else. :>

Good to find you blogging, Nancy!

(Clarion West 2003, btw. And since I've been having discussions re: poker lately, I've been thinking about you. ;)

none said...

If you put real people in your stories, they probably wouldn't recognise themselves--they don't see themselves as others see them!

Whispermoth said...

I have the opposite problem with my family. Though I don't think I have ever consciously used someone I know (though elements and anecdotes that are real have slipped in) my family insists they are in the stories even when the characters referenced have absolutely nothing in common with them. This doesn't seem to upset them so much as make them happy so I generally just smile and thank them for reading the story for me.

And, Nancy, as requested you can see that I am, in fact, reading your blog.