Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creative nonfiction

There still seems to be some confusion as to what creative nonfiction is. I read recently on a blog posted by Olgy Gary, that this is also being called narrative nonfiction. If you don't simply want to read the facts, people, places and things set down one by one and told to you, but love history, perhaps you need to look for books in the sub genre creative or narrative nonfiction. The story is told as if it were a fiction novel, but everything is true. Nothing is presented if it didn't happen. How it happened, where and why and when are all true.
I set out to write Fly With The Mourning Dove in this manner. I had a true story to tell, but didn't want it to read like a textbook or one of those boring tomes that never reaches inside the character's heart and mind. I had all my true stories, according to my protagonist, who was celebrated her 92nd birthday while we were in the middle of the project and celebrated her 93rd birthday a few months after the book came out. Once I did, the real work began because every scene had to be written as it really happened and she had to approve of it. It was a long, arduous but enjoyable journey from prologue to epilogue. And with her stamp of approval, a post it on the ms saying simply, "I'm satisfied" I knew I'd done it.
We marketed the book and it was published in late March, 2007. It's doing quite well, and with the remarks so far, I know the book is what we set out to produce. A great story of a time when women were making their mark in the southwest by being tough and independent and stubborn.
My only previous experience in creative nonfiction came in 1993 before I even knew the meaning of the term. Wandering In The Shadows of Time: An Ozarks Odyssey, as it turned out, is also creative nonfiction, but of another kind. It is what Lee Gutkind calls immersion journalism. I inserted myself, the writer, into the story, traveled to visit with folks who had tamed the rugged Ozarks, whose families had settled here when there were no roads, no railroads, no modern conveniences. People who have held on to the land and made it work for them. The story is mine and it is theirs, and it takes the reader along on my trip through the wilderness in search of the stories. It has outlasted the first publication, and recently I reissued it myself, with updates on the people whose stories I told and some new pictures as well. It is available at Amazon.com as are all my books.
To read excerpts and a complete biography see velda.

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