14th Sept 2017: News Stories and Popular Fiction by Julian Edge
Come along to The Castle Hotel (66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE) from 7pm. Come along for a bite of food, a chance to socialise and a talk about how news stories reflect on popular fiction…
Name of speaker:
Title of talk:
News Stories and Popular Fiction
Bullet points of what you would like to cover:
- The relationship between news stories and creative fiction
- The experience of writing a novel that involves this relationship
- The relationship of writer to readers and society more generally
- The writer’s rights and responsibilities
A (few) paragraph(s) on the subject you you’ve chosen to talk about:
I’ve always wondered if I could write fiction. I mean, inventing characters and having them populate a context in ways that other people will want to read about? Over the years, I once or twice thought of interesting set-ups for a novel, but never followed them through. Then, in summer 2015, I was thinking about the Rotherham and Rochdale grooming stories in the news and about how those horrific experiences were being exploited by the English Defence League to further their own agenda. Continuing cuts to front-line policing played into this scenario, as did my experience as a counsellor with Age UK, seeing how childhood experiences can negatively affect people’s lives in ways they are not aware of through to old age.
I started to develop a story, a fiction, something that did not relate to any real people, no, but which did, yes, draw on the documented fact that such events as I was imagining, and my characters were experiencing, were, in principle, possible. Then came the really exciting part, when characters I had invented started to make their own moves, shifting the contours of my plot and reorganising their relationships with other characters.
And then there was a manuscript and now there is a novel. None of it is “true.” It’s all made up. But it’s made up against the backdrop of some basic events that occurred. Is that permissible? Where does that leave the possibly injured feelings of some of the real people about whom I am not writing, but whose actions created a news context that fed the creation of the story? What about whole groups of people who might see the actions of characters that I have made up as being meant to be representative of their communities in ways that I never intended?
I have no experience of being groomed for sexual exploitation, nor of suffering from racial prejudice, nor of what is called in police circles, “noble-cause corruption.” Is it permissible for me to write such a story? I believe that it is, and that the only really valid criterion is, “Is it any good, as a story?” I’d like to invite discussion of these ideas and read a couple of extracts from the novel.
Any suggested you-tube links, websites and / or texts where further information may be found on your chosen topic:
Without wanting to designate specific news item or reports as relating directly to the narrative I invented, these articles exemplify the kind of storied background that I want to refer to.