Barry Graham the Scrivener

AutoFiction

Bookshelf with copies of Le Champion Nu by Barry Graham

In the events I did while in France, it was common for people not just to ask me if The Champion’s New Clothes/Le Champion Nu is autobiographical, but to seem to want it to be. (It isn’t.)

My Scottish and American novels have one thing in common: they’re the stories of people and places, not a person, and not this person. It’s currently fashionable to talk about “the right to tell your own story” — but what if, like me, you don’t want to tell your own story, because you don’t find it interesting? And “the right to tell your own story” isn’t a right, because it’s dependent on people being interested in listening to the story you’re telling. Otherwise, you’re not telling a story, just talking to yourself, and even you might not be listening.

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—Barry Graham

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The Guardian asks: “Are novelists obliged to tell the story of their private life?”

​“Write what you know” is a maxim preached to aspiring writers.

I get emails from single fathers who tell me The Book of Man captured their experience. I have no children. I get emails from people who’ve been hospitalised for depression saying the same thing about the same book. I have never been depressed, and when I wrote that book I had never been hospitalised.

I have also never been a young Dutch woman, nor a Mexican-American drug-dealer and murderer, nor a murderous paedophile, nor a female ex-cop from an upper-class background, nor a former U.S. soldier turned handyman, nor a lounge musician who commits armed robberies.

War veterans have said that the book that best represented their experience was The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, who never saw combat.

Bram Stoker wasn’t a vampire. Stephen King doesn’t hang out in drains, wearing a clown suit and luring children to their doom. ​ Experience is a poor substitute for imagination and empathy.

#writing #books #fiction #AutoFiction #OwnVoices #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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