How True Must Fiction Be?—The Role of Research in Fiction Writing

Room 2503AB, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, February 8, 2024
12:10 pm to 1:25 pm


When does our imagination require fact checking? Curated facts vivify our made-up worlds, deepen authenticity, and ward off appropriation, while inaccuracy undermines our credibility. This diverse panel of fiction writers will detail their research methods and madnesses, addressing questions like, how can you tell when you’re writing into territory you need to learn more about? When do facts weigh down rather than elevate a story? How can we avoid—or learn from—rabbit holes?

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Event_Outline_for_How_True_Must_Fiction_Be.pdf
Supplemental Document 1: How_True_Must_Fiction_Be_Research_Resources_List.pdf



Teresa's award-winning wok is published widely in US and international literary journals and anthologies. Her collection Hold Off The Night, a finalist for two book prizes, was published June 2023. Recent awards include the 2023 Gemini Story Award and the NMW story award in 2022. She is the founder of Lakeshore Writers Workshop.

Charmaine Wilkerson is the author of Black Cake, a multigenerational novel with elements of historical fiction. A former journalist, she is a graduate of Barnard College and Stanford University, and has written at Bread Loaf in Sicily, the Vermont Studio Center, and Hedgebrook.

Jody Hobbs Hesler’s debut story collection What Makes You Think You're Supposed to Feel Better is forthcoming from Cornerstone Press, October 2023. A novel is forthcoming from Flexible Press November 2024. Her work also appears in Arts & LettersCRAFTAtticus ReviewNecessary Fiction, and elsewhere.

Viet Dinh teaches at the University of Delaware. He has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as two O. Henry Prizes and the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction. His debut novel After Disasters, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize, was released in 2016.

Susan Baller-Shepard is a poet, author, and ordained Presbyterian minister. Her essays, poetry, photography, and sermons have appeared in newspapers and various literary publications. She is the author of the poetry collection Doe, as well as a recently completed historical fiction novel and new poetry collection.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center