I have a piece up on Literary Hub today, pondering why readers always want to know if the events in a novel or short story “really happened”:
As a fiction writer, it’s my job to fool you, to trick you into thinking that something happened, that the woman riding the Greyhound with the ring of mosquito bites on her upper arm exists, that the just-baked pie cooling on the cork trivet on the table is apple not pumpkin. We want to believe. That’s why we pick up stories, because we want to be carried off into this distant world; what happened next, we whine, did the boy get the girl? So why can’t you relax into the story, why must you ask the question, oh readers, or wonder in the secret places of your heart, or pretend you don’t care but then do a little research into the author’s life: Did it really happen?
If writers were leading the complicated and conflicted lives they write about, they wouldn’t have much (any?) time for writing. We love to think writers are more interesting than the average person, but I’m not sure that’s true. Some are, some aren’t—just like average people. No one is average anyway.
Readers are nosy. People are nosy. Part of the question is simple nosiness. But only part.
Read the rest: http://lithub.com/did-it-really-happen-fact-fiction-fate/
Also, you really should subscribe to Literary Hub. Their daily email pulls together the most interesting essays/interviews/literature on writing and writers from around the web. And there’s always something you must read on the Literary Hub itself…in short, perfect for procrastination! Here’s more info: http://lithub.com/