Wednesday, March 06, 2013
This past week there has been a lot of chatter about the “Hollywoodizing” of history, a phenomenon which subscribes to the adage “never let the truth stand in the way of a good story”. Thus we see the Oscar-winning film Argo playing so loose with the historical facts of the Iranian hostage crisis that even Jimmy Carter spoke out in protest. The film Lincoln, an equal triumph from the dramatic perspective, had enough outright lies and distortions to threaten another civil war. Just about any film or book selects its facts to suit its biases and its dramatic flow, and as a novelist, it is difficult to know how much bending of the truth is acceptable. But it is worrisome that entire generations are growing up learning their history from the simplified, often whitewashed, truths and moral lessons of Hollywood.
Fantasy and science fiction writers operate within very different parameters and expectations. People know this is a made-up world, that the science being portrayed is invented. As a mystery writer, however, I feel as if I am dealing in the real world, with real struggles in real-life situations. My writing has the potential to influence people's views and understanding of those struggles, and with that comes the responsibility to get it right.
If I am talking about post-traumatic stress disorder and child abuse, I’d better not be making it all up.