WritetoDone, a great website for writers of all stripes, includes a guest post I wrote for them about the mix of fact and fiction in both novel and memoir. This is a topic I’ve been pondering for years. My recent novel features several historical figures from the Cuban Revolution, who mix it up with the purely-invented characters in the book. And my next book will be centered—as close as I can manage it—on my mother’s actual life, with many details and incidents I’ve made up to fill in the portrait.
Here’s one paragraph from the article:
We know a story must follow its own inner logic. On page one that logic might be ours, but with every chapter the characters gather force, and we wind up following their desires, not our own. Such, at least, is the general consensus of how it should work, and one I subscribe to. Of course, not everyone does. I read with a certain glee Vladimir Nabokov’s comment from a 1967 interview in The Paris Review, when he was asked if his characters sometimes took over and dictated the course of his books. Nabokov would have none of it. “My characters are galley slaves,” he said.