Where Do You Draw the Line?

5 05 2010

Interesting article in which a sister attacks her famous novelist/playwright/screenwriter brother for putting her and her family into his novels.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/keep-me-out-of-your-novels-hanif-kureishis-sister-has-had-enough-790839.html

What do you think? Is it inappropriate to put your family into your fiction? Where would you draw the line? Do you take experiences from your own family life for inspiration?

As for myself, I try to keep my family out of my stories as much as possible. No doubt my upbringing and instilled values present themselves in my poetry and prose from time to time, but I absolutely refuse to put my family or friends into bad situations like the ones noted in the article above. I would never attack someone with my prose. That just seems bad form to me. I understand that many poets and novelists, especially “literary” novelists, tend to be somewhat autobiographical. I’m just not one of them. Perhaps that’s the allure of speculative fiction for me: I can make the world whatever I want it to be instead of accepting it for what it is. I am free to invent characters instead of using biased opinions of friends and relations to fill my stories.  

I simply could not imagine using my wife and two sons the way Kureishi purportedly did in his book Intimacy.

Besides, if you only write about your own life, perhaps you should be writing memoirs instead of fiction?

That said, this Friday’s upcoming Southern Fried Short could be considered somewhat autobiographical in nature, but you may notice how the only character I attack is my own.

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