I responded to a post on FaceBook. What's the novelty in that, you might ask. True - we respond to stuff we see all the time.
This time, it was a statement by my good friend and collegue Duncan Long - illustrator and author par excellence. This is what he wrote:
Every successful novelist
must first be a good liar.
|Pic courtesy bgillettephoto.com|
This of course set me thinking and writing. But let's face it, how long and hard does one think when one taps off a response on Facebook? Not terribly long at all. This was my response:
It's not lies we tell, strictly speaking, although tradition has it that it's what we do. We invent, create, and build a whole world on top of a fabrication. How thin, or how implausible, that fabrication is largely instils in the reader the necessity to suspend disbelief. If, however, the fabrication is so strong and feasible that debate is taken up among readers, or real-world belief becomes attached to the tale, it constructs around that author the ability to "pull the wool over readers' eyes" and when the obvious revelation is made that it's fiction (duh!) the easy decision is made to dub the author a liar. This happens with authors who use gaps, loopholes, and mysteries in history to devise a rollicking story ... it's my genre, so I think I know of which I speak. As long as the reader sits back and breathes in awe, "Wow - what a lie. What a great liar!" I do not mind being called that one bit.
Then I stopped to think again. How many authors truly sit and think of the "lies" around which they build their fiction? How many - like me - latch onto some gap in history, and use the spak-filla of words to create a tale for readers' edification and entertainment?
If you are an author, tell me whether how you build stories feels like lying.
If you are a reader, tell me whether you regard authors as being great liars.
And then look at my novels, especially, to see how I love to find a bit of a blank in history or literature, or art, or music, and insert into it a story worth telling. And worth reading. Many have done it before me, and perhaps better. AS Byatt, Hugh Ashton, Meredith Whitford, Anna Jacobs, Mel Starr, Brian Kavanagh, and other authors do this regularly. And how can we not love what they do?