Unintended Consequences of Writing a Novel

As a result of my novel, Ile d'Or, published this spring (May, 2010), I have heard from people across Canada and the U.S. who either grew up in the north or are familiar with it.

One man wrote that when his family moved into the log bungalow that had belonged to the local policeman, there was a jail in the back yard. It was a shed with bars. I asked what his family had used it for and he told me it was used as a shed. Why not? The fact that it was once a jail simply adds to the legends that surround the frontier town that Bourlamaque (Val d'Or) then was.

A woman wrote to ask why I'd used the name Serge Bikadoroff. In this case, I had used the name of a real person I knew to be deceased. And as the fictional character of a fictional character, it seemed innocuous. Ultimately it was, but I worried until the woman, who turned out to be Serge's sister, wrote to say she'd been delighted with my response to her query.

People appropriate the characters and their stories and tell me what really happened. Or what they would like to have happen. That's their prerogative. Once a book is published, it no longer belongs entirely to the author.

As a result of the novel, I am now in communication with people I had almost forgotten. With one man I exchange photographs and recipes. Another sent the class photographs in an earlier post. There have also been some uncomfortable moments when someone or other thinks the fiction is fact. I explain that it's a novel, that characters are often composites, that a lot of the background of the town is real but that the story is not. The story of four characters who come together in the town in their forties and have to face themselves and their pasts. It could have happened, but it didn't. And at this point, I can scarcely recall what is fact and what is fiction. That's the way it goes for a writer!!
Posted on September 7, 2010 .