Liars Club

Is this book true?

by Marie Lamba on January 3, 2011

in The Writing Life,The Writing Process

Burning Question 15 – Readers Most Frequent Questions,  Answered!

“Is this book a true story?”

Yikes!  Why don’t you just strip off all my clothes and parade me through the mall on Christmas Eve?  A true story? What’s in my book? My NOVEL? Did these things happen to me? Do I honestly think that way?  Do I know someone as evil as the antagonist?

Gulp. It’s fiction. FICTION!

Oh, why am I shouting in print?  Not because I’m angry, but because I’m UNCOMFORTABLE. Want a fun sport? Ask any non-memoir author about the truth in their book just to see them squirm.

See, we writers are an odd mix of “hey, look at me!” and “I’m so private, I hide in my room all day writing down stuff I pretend only I will see.”  We want to be read, we long for our words to be understood and meaningful, but we also like hiding behind those words.

We fill our books with all sorts of truths, but call them fiction. The real truth is (and, remember, this is coming from a LIAR) that if you read any book, you are, in fact entering the writer’s mind. You’ll hear her voice, you’ll understand her attitudes, you’ll glimpse bits and pieces of experiences and people she has encountered. But it’s a mash up. Cut and paste, mix and twirl, spin and zing.  We have tremendous fun with all this.

We expose ourselves. And our lives. But not really.

So is this book a true story?


Marie Lamba has just completed an YA paranormal called DRAWN about an artist who channels a very hot ghost through her drawings.  This is, of course, a completely TRUE story. She’s author of the young adult novel WHAT I MEANT… (Random House), and her articles appear in numerous publications including Garden Design, Writer’s Digest, and RWR – the national publication of Romance Writers of America.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerry Waxler January 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Haha. I’m doing an interview with fiction writer Judi Hendricks about her novel Bread Alone, in which this is the main question. Memoir writers want to know. 🙂 She actually welcomed the question. What is truth? Finally, I’ve ended up hanging around with a group of people who care about it as much as I do.

Memory Writers Network

Marie Lamba January 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Hi Jerry!

Of course when you write fiction it’s sometimes hard for even the author to tell what is “true.”

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