I’m writing about a historical figure. Let’s call her M. Yesterday I went to the library to
feed my schlock novel addiction check out some books, and I was drawn to a book because it had stars in the title. I read the flap and note that it takes place in [M’s hometown redacted]. And it’s about [M’s profession redacted].
It turns out that someone has fictionalized M’s life, and given the main character a new name, the same background, but a very different life course. M has a great life story, this is why I’m writing about her. The plot circumstance probably makes for a great story, even if it’s historically inaccurate. The new name helps.
But do I read it? Will it mess with the facts I have about M? I am thinking of visiting M’s hometown this summer if I can manage it. Maybe that will imprint M’s real life on my brain. Will I learn anything from this novel? And yet, how can I not read a fictional account of M’s life?
What’s too close to your writing for comfort?