Let’s get it out up front: I write fiction.
Yeah, ok, not on this blog (although since some of it is simply opinion, even that line is a bit blurred). But my books are fiction. Which doesn’t mean they’re not factual.
In fact (I had to; I just had to), I did an awful lot of research to get my facts straight in my first book. What’s that old line? “If you want to tell a convincing lie, wrap it around a truth”. Such is my feeling about fiction; if you want fiction to be more believable, make sure there are plenty of facts within.
So, in preparation for Jeremy’s adventures, I pored over research about various ants; their habits, social groupings, class structures, locations and behaviors . That led me to both the choice of the type of ant for Jeremy to change into as well as the nature of the danger he would face.
I studied hard the mostly inscrutable texts about collective unconscious, culling what I could from the scholarly treatises to adapt to my needs as the source of the “power” behind the sketchbook and a huge chunk of Book 2.
Plenty of information was also available referring to the prehistoric era and location of the cave paintings in Ardèche, France. Granted, there were no scientists who travelled back in a time machine to verify the hypotheses, but we accept scientific theory for historical fact (until a new theory displaces it…square earth anyone?). The research included climate conditions, fauna and flora of the era as well as man’s presumed evolutionary level.
Now we come to Book 2, “What Next?”, and I am faced with a particularly challenging bit of fiction. During a good portion of the book, my group of intrepid explorers (Jeremy, his Mom and Natalie) are in France.
I’ve never been to France. I don’t have any close personal friends who have been to France. I don’t have the current opportunity and capability to visit France. How then can I capture the flavor, grandeur and essence of France?
Yes, I have pored over detailed information about Ardèche, its geography, economic structure and demographics. I’ve done further research on Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, the commune in southern Ardeche within which the Chauvet Cave resides. It’s a tiny place which holds far more of interest than the Cave alone.
At its limit, it’s all just research. I’ve set off to try to determine who I could possibly contact in Ardèche for further color, though even that will not provide me an emotional trigger. Ultimately, the facts are simply not enough. Ultimately, despite all my factual support, it will still be a fiction.
Which is okay, because I write fiction.