Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fictional Embellishment?

Vicki in Portland, Oregon. I'm resting up before three events in Washington State and another two in B.C.

Sorry that I missed so many of my posting dates, but finding computer time on the road can sometimes be difficult. Debby and I were so busy – some days we had three events, and we put in hundreds of miles between cities. We’ve parted ways now, as Debby had to join her husband and four teenage boys (not all hers!) on vacation and I’m heading North to Nelson.

This picture was taken in a charming Mexican Restaurant called Frank and Lupe’s in Scottsdale.

Debby and I called our tour “The Hot + Cold Mystery Tour” which is inadvertently a nice tie-in to the topic of last week: Weather in mysteries. As we explained, the hot and cold was a bit of a misnomer, as in Valley of the Lost is it 42 C one day (107 F) which is hotter than it ever gets in Hawaii. But the topic gave us a nice way to start talking about mysteries. Both our books are very setting-specific in that Debby’s books wouldn’t work if taken off the Islands, and mine wouldn’t work in someplace like Toronto or Detroit; not even in Picton, Ontario.

I’d like to turn Rick’s question about real issues in fiction around and ask, is it all right to put non-real events into real times and places? My newest book, Gold Digger: A Klondike Mystery, (Rendezvous Crime, April) takes place in 1898 in Dawson, Yukon. In the single year (1898-99) that was the height of the Great Klondike Gold Rush there was not a single murder in Dawson. That’s an important historical fact as it contrasts starkly with Skagway, Alaska, which was controlled over that period by the infamous gangster Soapy Smith, or Nome, which in the year of its smaller rush had something like 80 murders. The reasons are mainly that the NWMP stamped its authority on the territory immediately and was ready when gold seekers began to arrive, plus that the police simply didn’t allow guns in town.

So – is it fair to change that important bit of history and scatter dead bodies around willy-nilly? In Gold Digger, there is one murder, in the second book, Gold Fever, there are two.


Donis Casey said...

There's a good-looking bunch if I ever saw one.

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