My interview with Tanis Rideout was on The Millions this week. We talked about truth in fiction:
TR: Other people would argue that you could write good fiction and stay within the facts. Maybe it takes a better writer than me to do that? Hilary Mantel recently said, “I will make up the thoughts of a man’s heart, but I will not make up the color of his wallpaper.” Her idea with the Cromwell books, Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies, is that she stuck to what is known.
I think that is hugely admirable, but as a fiction writer that isn’t of interest to me. I always assume everything that I read is fiction, even if it’s in the non-fiction section. The very notion of putting something on paper means that you are creating a narrative.
TM: Do the true facts behind a story change an experience for a reader?
TR: Is reading something “true” more emotionally valid? I don’t see why.
Either the story moved you or it didn’t. You went with the author or not. Learning if the facts of a story are true or not after the fact doesn’t need to make a difference to how you were moved.
TM: So you changed Mallory’s wallpaper?
TR: I changed Mallory’s wallpaper and then some. I renovated his house.
The full interview is available here.