book~worm 1. A person who is excessively fond of reading.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Guest Post & Giveaway - Doug Magee - Never Wave Goodbye
I reviewed Doug Magee's debut thriller Never Wave Goodbye yesterday. Doug has a rich and varied background and I wondered how much of that was used in the writing of his novel. Doug responds....
"First Get The Facts
I’ve always enjoyed the quote attributed to Ben Franklin, “First get the facts, then distort them at your leisure.” I think it quite apt for most politicians, especially during campaigns, but recently I’ve been realizing it applies to writers of fiction as well. We who supposedly make up stories are often taking our own snapshots of the real world and, well, distorting them at our leisure.
In my own case I know how specifically this worked in my novel Never Wave Goodbye. The story is about a woman whose daughter and three other children have been kidnapped by a man pretending to be from the camp they were to attend. This idea, this hook, came to me a few years ago and then, when I sat down to write the novel, the question arose as to how to develop it, what to look at, whose part of the story to tell.
I made the decision to spend large parts of the book with the families of the kidnapped as they lived through the horror of not knowing what had happened to their children. I wanted to see that part of their experience that the media wouldn’t see, that perhaps their friends and neighbors wouldn’t see.
But I didn’t come to this decision arbitrarily. In 1980 I published a book of profiles of the families of murder victims (What Murder Leaves Behind) which was a look at the experiences of these survivors in the aftermath of the nightmare that had happened to them. In going around the country talking to families I found that many of our assumptions about their experience comes from inaccurate media portrayals, mainly news sources in which the survivors face a camera and say pretty much what the reporter wants them to say about their grief and anger. But back in their houses their experiences were quite different.
So when I wrote Never Wave Goodbye, I drew heavily on the interviews that I had gathered for the earlier book, trying to make the characters as real as possible, their responses to their tragedy as varied as I know they are in real life. But I also was aware that I was writing fiction and that characters in fiction need to be exaggerated in many cases in order to fix themselves in the reader’s mind. And so I followed Ben Franklin’s dictum and distorted at my leisure.
From reader’s responses I’ve had so far I think the strategy may have paid off in one regard. I’ve found a lot of people saying the novel makes them ask the question, What would I do if this happened to me? That makes me feel two things. First that I haven’t strayed too far from the “facts” to distance the reader from reality and secondly that I’ve distorted those facts in a way that allows the reader to keep involved in the story.
I didn’t do so but I probably should have added this line to the book’s acknowledgments. “Many thanks, Ben.”
Thanks so much Doug! Here's your chance to win a copy of Never Wave Goodbye for your summertime reading list. Simply comment to be entered - open to both Canada and the US, ends Sat. Aug 21 at 6 pm EST.