Ripped (Gently) from the Headlines: The Ethics of Writing Fiction Based on Fact
Thursday, February 8, 2024
10:35 am to 11:50 am
All writers borrow from life: people we’ve known, things we’ve witnessed, and historical events inevitably find their way into the work. But when novelists explicitly set out to retell true stories, they face serious ethical and artistic challenges. What does it mean to "shape" reality? What do we owe the people whose lives are our source material? Is our responsibility to historical accuracy or to the meaning we find there? Five authors discuss the fraught process of turning fact into fiction.
Andrew Altschul is the author of the novels The Gringa, Deus Ex Machina, and Lady Lazarus, as well as short fiction that has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best New American Voices, O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and teaches at Colorado State University.
Ellen Meeropol is the author of the novels The Lost Women of Azalea Court, Her Sister's Tattoo, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island, and House Arrest, and guest editor of the anthology Dreams for a Broken World. Recent essay publications include Lilith, Writer Magazine, and Lit Hub.
Ava Homa is the award-winning author of the novel Daughters of Smoke and Fire, which was selected for Roxane Gay's book club and won the 2020 Silver Nautilus Award. Ava holds a Master's degree in creative writing from the University of Windsor in Canada. Her words have appeared in BBC and the Guardian.
Charmaine Craig is the author of the novels My Nemesis and Miss Burma, longlisted for the National Book Award and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her writing has been published in the New York Times Magazine, Narrative magazine, Afar, and Dissent. She teaches at UC Riverside.
Justin Torres is the author of the novels Blackouts and We the Animals. He has published short fiction in the New Yorker, Harper's, Tin House, and other publications. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is associate professor of English at UCLA.