Elaine Forrestal

Fiction Contains History

Inevitably, when people read my new historical fiction, Goldfields Girl, they will ask me, ‘How much of this story is fact and how much is fiction?’. Experience at presenting talks and workshops about my other historical novels, Black Jack Anderson and To See the World, has taught me to expect this. Those previous experiences have also taught me that, no matter what I say, that questioner will not be completely satisfied. Like the other perennial question, ‘Out of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?’, there is no answer. At least no single definitive answer; which is what these people really want. Today I was reminded of how contemporary writer, Ben Learner, deals with the first of these grass-seed-in-the-sock questions that plague writers everywhere.

A novel, like a poem, is neither fiction or non-fiction, but a flickering between them.’ (Ben Learner) And how DH Lawrence warned us consistently to ‘Never trust the teller, trust the tale.’

In other words don’t simply accept what you read from a single source. If my story intrigues you and throws up questions, dig deeper. Enter into the lives of the characters through the tale I have to tell, but don’t stop there. If I have sparked your curiosity and made you think more deeply about  the world and its mysteries, then I have done my job well.

Happy reading.