When I plan a vacation, my first thought is the box of books. Which can I finish? Which will inspire me? Which will propel me forward in life? I stare at the piles of books and the corrugated box. I want to include everything and nothing. I want the selected few, but I don’t know which fall into that category. Should I take the books waiting to be reviewed or the ones I didn’t finish last year or the year before or the year before that?
This year, I became wise. I took one fiction book
|Valley of Bones (Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy)|
one book of creative non-fiction
|The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America|
an academic book I have been reading
|On the Reliability of the Old Testament|
and my Kindle which contains my Bible and other books.
So how did I do with the reading? I never picked up Valley of Bones. I never picked up On the Reliability of the Old Testament. I completely finished The Devil in the White City. And I read a few out of print short stories on my Kindle.
The Devil in the White City is a work of creative non-fiction. I am not completely convinced that this genre should even exist. Creative non-fiction is factual writing mixed with “what could have happened.” Now, if you take this to its extreme, it is historical fiction. Historical fiction is a fictional story set in a historical period. Could it have happened? Maybe.
The Devil in the White City is a true story set in a historical period with what may or may not be fictional elements. I am writing a series of novels about the Prophet Elijah. What we know about him would not fill a single book. However I have set his story in its historical time and included elements of modern thought, technology, clothing, etc. How would I have to modify my novel to make it creative non-fiction? I could take out the modern elements, thought, and place names. What then? The characters I invented could have existed. There is no evidence for or against their existence. The action I wrote could have taken place. There is no evidence for or against it.
Others have told me that my fiction is speculative fiction. How about creative speculative non-fiction? If I include footnotes will that make my novel non-fiction?
And what is true? If we add what might have been and call it “creative” is it still true? And if it is not true, can it be called “non-fiction.” I have always believed that the untrue was fiction. Have we so blurred the lines of demarcation that we no longer call what is true, non-fiction?
There is a writers conference in the spring on narrative non-fiction. If I attend will they answer my questions?
What do you think about all of this?