Is It Creation or Appropriation?

connect with Indies Unlimited on Facebook hands-543593_960_720Recently Hal Niedzviecji, chief editor of Write Magazine, the quarterly published by the Writers Union of Canada, was pressured to resign as a result of his editorial, “Win Appropriation Prize”. His take was that there ought to be no barriers to writing about those we do not “know” and that readers would be the ones to take us to task if we cross the line.

The furor that resulted prompted me to explore the topic of cultural appropriation in writing. It’s a tricky one and the opinions run the gamut from “never” to “anything goes”. Continue reading “Is It Creation or Appropriation?”

Yes, Fiction Writers Do Research

‘Write what you know.’ We have all heard that statement in one context or another, but what does it mean? This is actually a beast that raises its head periodically, in many different guises, at Indies Unlimited. The ‘Get it right’ posts are just one guise; I think all of the staff and several guests have done at least one piece on the subject. ‘Get the fight right!’ was my contribution (write what you know, right?). However, it all comes down to the same thing; you have to know what you are writing about or risk being labelled unprofessional. Do The Research.

I was being interviewed on an ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) radio program last year and one of the questions put to me was, “So, being an historical fiction based on fact, I suppose you would have had to do some research for ‘Terra Nullius’; as apposed to, say, your usual genres of memoir or pure fiction?” The assumption being that the ‘memoirs’ came straight out of my memory, and the ‘fiction’ came straight out of my imagination.

“Research plays a major part in the writing of any book,” I said. “Even fantasy requires the writer to get some general facts and rules straight; they may actually conduct considerable research on certain aspects, giving their story credibility. Some in-depth, researched facts can do wonders to suspend a reader’s disbelief, regardless of genre.” Continue reading “Yes, Fiction Writers Do Research”

Researching Your Novel…Can You Go Too Far?

“So are you up for a little adventure?” my fellow indie writer asked, blue eyes bright with anticipation.

A little adventure. Sure. I’d recently quit my nine-to-five job and was living the vida loca, writing full-time from home, and figured I could use an adventure. Shake up the old synapses, give me some good material for the further escapades of one of the protagonists in a popular action-adventure series I write. What the heck, I thought. Couldn’t hurt.

I was wrong. Continue reading “Researching Your Novel…Can You Go Too Far?”

Don’t Try This at Home

Bound & gaggedThat’s right – don’t try this at home. I’m a professional…professional lunatic, perhaps. Although my good friend and martial artist Dennis Lawson once told me that because I’m a published novelist, that makes me eccentric. Otherwise I’d be certifiable.

It started in New York City while I was working on my first novel, Lust for Danger, with a screenplay writer (Mykel). She’d read the draft my agent gave her and loved it. We were in her office, and she got to a scene in which Special Agent Night was nearly discovered snooping for evidence during an illegal search. There was only one place for my agent to go – under the suspect’s desk. Mykel said she wanted more depth – more suspense – in that scene. I was stumped.

“Have you ever tried hiding under a desk?” Mykel asked me.

In fact, I hadn’t (that I could remember). What could it hurt? I figured out how much time it would take for the suspect to do what he had to do in the office, set a timer, and crawled under the desk. Wow. It’s amazing how perspective changes…how suddenly the space closes in around you. Mykel was quite pleased with my re-written scene.

You realize, of course, she created a monster. Continue reading “Don’t Try This at Home”