Fact and Fiction, Truth and Lies …
Except it’s not that simple. For decades I just thought of myself pretty much exclusively as a fiction writer. Making up stories was what I did, with the occasional article. Then I embarked on writing my mother’s biography/memoir and discovered – what I probably should have known all along – that non fiction is all about telling stories too.
And what writer would dare make up a plot-line like Alex and Marcus Lewis’s? I could hardly believe my good fortune when I was approached to write their story with them both. All the ingredients that had fascinated me in my fiction – identity and memory, family myths and masks, uncovering layers of false truth – were present in their story. Plus there was the bonus of getting to know a couple of courageous, funny and quirky individuals, together with their families and friends.
So now I am thoroughly hooked on non fiction. And along the way I’ve begun learning to write as ‘me’. The great thing about fiction is that the writer can be twenty different people in each book. You expose yourself in multiple guises. In non fiction, you’re the author. Full stop.
Whether fiction or non fiction ends up being the more truthful can be debated for a long time. I don’t kid myself that it’s the ‘truth’, but it’s the closest I can get to the truth at the time of going to press. And I’m just happy that my mother, thirty years after her death, has led me to such a thoroughly interesting change of direction.