Photo: Eric Stone
Photo: Eric Stone
Photo: Eric Stone
who books news events meanderings mixed-media contact
Flight of the Hornbill
grave imports
living room of the dead
wrong side of the wall
short stories



How To Write A Novel Based on Fact and Not Get Yourself Into Too Much Trouble

For information about Eric giving this talk to your store or group, please contact him. The Living Room of the Dead

Ray Sharp, the lead character in The Living Room of the Dead, he isn't me. Really, he isn't. No, really.

Sure I've done some of what he does in the book. Sure I know a lot of the stuff in the book first hand. I used to hang out in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. I've been to that restaurant in Macau, to the casino, to some of the nightclubs, to the Thai "no hands" restaurant, to some other places as well and it wasn't all just for research.

Okay, so Ray's girlfriend in Jakarta? There might be some things that seem familiar about her to some of the people who know me and have known some of my previous girlfriends. So what? She isn't them, well not exactly at any rate. The stuffy Brit finance writer who gets Ray embroiled in all the trouble? So what if a guy I used to work with on a business magazine in Hong Kong thinks he knows who the character really is? So what if he's right? He's only part right anyhow.

The conversation with the C.I.A. guy about eggs? That's almost verbatim; a real conversation I really had. But in a totally different context.

Take it from me, The Living Room of the Dead is fiction, made up, just a story, it didn't really happen that way.

Well, that's not entirely true. Some of it did happen that way. Almost all of it is well grounded in fact. My publisher's lawyer made me change one little detail, that's all. I hope that makes the novel seem real, believable.

The book's written in the first person. If it's too believable that might cause problems. My wife is worried about what her mother is going to make of it when she reads it. "I can't believe you're with that sleazebag!"

"Look," I'll say, "it's FICTION! That isn't me. Even if Ray Sharp seems something like me, he isn't me. I didn't do that stuff. Well, not all of it anyway."

But seriously, these are all issues in writing fiction, especially when it's based on true stories, especially when it's written in the first person. That's what we're going to talk about at the workshop. If you attend, I'm certain that you'll write a bestseller someday.

Well, maybe not.