“Truth is stranger than fiction.”
“You can’t make shit like this up.”
First, fiction writers get shit when they write stuff some asshole says is too outrageous and could never happen in real-life. The mystery writer Carl Hiaasen said this happened to him and he replied that nothing he’d written even came close to what he reported on as a newspaper reporter in Florida. Because of that, I think fiction writers may be discouraged from writing about truly outrageous and crazy-ass shit that can happen. But after this week, hell after this past year, I think all bets are off in the fiction-writing world.
Second, books about racists taking over the world through violent insurrection is in books have been put as propaganda by governments, such as ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, or books written by known racists such as ‘The Turner Diaries’. I will not provide links to either book, especially ‘The Turner Diaries’ as money from that book is still being funneled to white supremacist groups. ‘The Turner Diaries’ was also what was found in possession of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who is now burning hell for the mass murder he committed.
I think most fiction writers though are on the side of good, especially those who write for mass-market success. This is why I believe superhero movies have become so popular, not because they’re awesome and well-made, but because we need heroes more than ever. We need to see good triumphing over evil more than ever, especially after the events of January 6, 2021.
I write fiction about people winning against the odds, kicking the shit out of the bad guys, and finding love and hope. I make no apologies for that and instead if anyone does come at me I’ll tell them to fuck off. And because I chose to write in the romance genre, I’ve gotten shit for what I write as have all of my fellow romance writers. But since 2016, we’ve taken a stand for what we write and what we believe in and now, you don’t come for us unless we send for you.
My father once said to me the world needs happy endings. Because we all know too well that we don’t get to live forever. We will watch loved ones die. We will watch innocent people die. We will watch bad people rise to power. We will lose connections to those we care about when their choices become clear, and are turned against us as weapons of pain and cruelty.
Fiction does tell the truth, even in genres such as science-fiction and fantasy. Many science-fiction and fantasy authors have denied the allegorical nature of their work but I don’t see a need to do that anymore. Fiction writers create fictional worlds to work through things in a theoretical or experimental environment like a scientist does in a lab. We publish our results as scientists do for peer-review so I believe this is where the camaraderie between scientists and fiction-writers comes from. We come up with a premise, or hypothesis in the case of a scientist, then we observe, experiment, and write up our conclusions.
Truth is only stranger than fiction when a fiction writer doesn’t restrain their imagination. We’ve known about the rise of white supremacy over the last four years yet we’ve been told to deny it or minimize it, or worst of all, rationalize it to a harmless state. I believe as fiction writers we need to use our imaginations and the truth we are living through to hypothesize, observe, and through the writing process, experiment and find conclusions and answers. Most of all, we need to be brave and courageous in sharing our words in the face of those who will deny our truths and observations.
In some ways, I believe we have begun to talk about the infiltration of radical hatred as in the show ‘Star Trek: Picard’ which was about the infiltration of the Romulan cult that believed artificial life would destroy the Universe. Their belief was so intense they led the attack on the efforts to rescue their own people from their home-world that was about to be destroyed by their sun going super-nova. Luckily, since this is ‘Star Trek’, heroes rose up and saved the day.
I know there are many heroes in this world today: doctors and nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic we’re still living through, poll workers and voter registration organizers, frontline workers, law enforcement and military who uphold the law and serve and protect. Good, kind people of all walks of life.
I’m proud to write about heroes and heroines, good over evil, happily ever after, love and hope. And maybe I won’t write anything stranger than what happens in real life, and maybe I never will be able to. That’s okay because I don’t need to justify what I write, apologize for it, or defend it.
There is truth in fiction, just as there is truth in reality.