Hope Barrett's Blog - Posts Tagged "murder-she-wrote"

THERE is an inclination in some readers to look for the author in a work of fiction, especially if it is a good one —especially if we have identified with one of the characters. We want to believe that Rumiko Takahashi is as cute as her characters and that Barbara Cartland is as beautiful (or handsome) as her protagonists.

Inevitably we are disappointed.

Instead of a pointed chin, doe-eyed 30-something, maybe even 40-something, Barbara Cartland was in her 80s when her historical romances became bestsellers around the world. And Takahashi’s hilarious and very personable cartoon characters may all have huge, cute, sparkling eyes, but the author herself has not been able to find a publicity still that comes even close.

At a certain point, the reader has to learn to separate fact from fiction. If not, it means we have to look at writers such as James Patterson and Rosemary Rogers in an entirely different light. Not only will therapy be a necessity, but so will police reports and criminal charges...

While it is fact that the best writing borrows from life (Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, James Herriott), it takes away from the writer to assume that they are incapable of summoning anything from imagination to contribute to the end product.

Not every writer may be prepared to surrender reality as readily as J.K. Rowlings and A.A. Milne, but it doesn’t mean the capacity to fly isn’t there. Inherent in all of us —reader or writer— is the ability to imagine, and with that trait, the ability to soar.

In the end, when we study a work that is not about historical events or the life of someone famous (or for that matter, infamous), we should look at the endeavour as an answer to one key question: was it well written?

If the answer is ‘yes’ then it has served its purpose.

Of course, ideally, a work should also touch its reader. In a manner that is so personal that fiction does, for a moment, become confused with reality. But only for a moment — when you are reading the work.

So when one of my readers writes me to ask: was that you in the book? I reply: it all depends, was I writing a murder?
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Published on February 15, 2012 10:50 • 87 views • Tags: murder-she-wrote, who-s-reading-this