Monday, July 23, 2018

Guest Post: Facts and Fiction in an Author's Writings: The Conscious/Unconscious Blurring of the Two by Doron Gil, Ph.D.

Facts and Fiction in an Author's Writings: The Conscious/Unconscious Blurring of the Two Facts and Fiction in an Author's Writings: The Conscious/Unconscious Blurring of the Two
By Doron Gil, Ph.D.
What is fact and what is fiction in novels and stories
In literature, the line between fact and fiction is sometimes blurred. In Fiction it often happens that the writer claims to not consciously intending to include autobiographical elements in the novel/story. But doesn't he/she? And does it make any difference to us, the readers, and/or to the quality of the book?
In any case, when you read a novel or a story, you probably rarely ask yourself what in the book is fiction, and what is based on the author's autobiographical elements. And why would you? Would knowing one way or another makes any difference? Does knowing, for example, that some of the book's plot or characters are based on some aspects of the author's own life give the book more credibility? More attractive powers? Or does a book stand on its own merit, whether or not it is based, in part, on the writer's autobiographical elements?
Does knowing that fact and fiction are blurred add any value or credibility to the novel/story?
It is a well-known fact that the Belgian writer Georges Simenon (1903 - 1989), who has published about 500 novels and short stories, has based many of his characters on people he knew.
It is also known that many of the short stories of the American writer Raymond Carver (1938 - 1988) have some autobiographical elements in them (i.e., drunkenness, divorce, and couples' fights).
A similar case we find in Jonathan Safran Foer's comment about his latest book ("Here I am", 2016). Eleven years after Foer published his last book ("Extremely Loud & Increasingly Close", 2005) his new novel is about relationships.
When questioned about whether the book is based on autobiographical elements, Foer answered that he often asks himself the same question. He admits to having divorced his ex after 10 years of marriage, and also says that during the last 11 years he has been writing constantly about issues related to marriage and divorce.
So, without having received a clear answer, we see that, once again, facts and fiction seem to be blurred, intermingled and intertwined.
And once again, knowing that to be the case, does it give any added quality to Foer's book?
What if the author wouldn't have told us what the description of the rape has been based on?
Jessica Knoll's debut novel"Luckiest Girl Alive" (Simon & Schuster, 2016), describes, in a very credible manner, a group-rape of a 14-year-old girl. Some of the critics asked Knoll about the research she has done prior to writing the book, which helped her describe the rape in such a credible manner. Several weeks after the book has been published, Knoll has admitted in an interview that the rape scene has happened to her (as Knoll explained in "Lenny", a newsletter and website for young women, on March 29, 2016)
If Knoll should have not told us, would this have made any difference? How often authors don't tell us? And does it really matter whether the "fiction" is based, in part, on some of the author's autobiographical elements?
Can an author write passionately about love and eroticism without having had a personal experience?
The novel of the Israeli author Judith Katzir "Dearest Anne" (the Feminist Press, 2008) tells the erotic love-story between a 14-year-old girl and her 27-year-old teacher. Apparently, their love is "unique" to the two of them. But would it been possible for the author to describe love and sex in such a detailed, yet aesthetic way, without having had a (similar, to say the least), personal experience?
Could it be that an author who devotes pages on pages to describe, in much detail, an erotic love between two; their longings for each other; their "sexual games"; their addictive, forbidden love, hasn't based it, at least in part, on her own experiences (even to the point of "using" the writing process as self-therapy)?
Upon reading Katzir's book, one might wonder how many autobiographical elements the book is based upon. Such lovely, vivid, explicit, emotional descriptions of love and attraction - is it possible that they all have come only from the imaginary mind of Katzir, or is it possible, just possible, that she must have experienced at lease some (similar) level of love and attraction to be able to write about it so convincingly?
Katzir's "Dearest Anne" is only one example, of many, showing that in literature it is not always possible to differentiate between the author's imagination and elements based on the author's life. The two are often blurred.
Does knowing that Nabokov had synaesthesia make a difference?
It might not be known that the Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977; famous for the novel "Lolita", 1955) - had synaesthesia (a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sense produces experiences in a totally different sense. For example, people with synesthesia might see colors in letters; or can see colors in the food they taste; or might associate colors with emotions).
Knowing that Nabokov had synaesthesia might explain why some of the characters in his books are afflicted with synesthesia (including in the novels "The Defense", 1930 and "The Gift", 1952).
Nabokov used to tell how having synesthesia helps and enriches the characters' lives (as well as the readers': Synesthesia can be used by the writer as a literary device, describing people, places, events, and emotions in terms of multiple senses [which is often the case in poetry]. This "technique" makes the reader feel more "in touch" with the story/poem).
Yet the question again is: does it make any difference to the reader, knowing that the writer has had similar experiences to those of his characters? Does it add any value to the novel/story?
We don't know. However, having had a similar experience might enable the writer to "get into the head" of his characters and describe them in a more credible way (which, in the long run, can give the novel better credibility and maybe makes it a "better" novel with a broader universal appeal).
Between fiction and fact: where does the quality of the story lie?
Getting into the mind of someone else - even of a "normal" person - is a difficult enterprise. Not even psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists can do so without doubt and difficulties.
When it comes to "unconventional" persons - murderers, crazy people and the like - it might even be harder to get into their heads.
When it comes to literature, there are those who claim that good writers, who have a keen eye to observe and record, can indeed get into the head of their personalities, be they "normal" or "deviant".
Still, this is a no easy task, and we often don't know whether the writer has had any "close encounters" with a similar case or not... Often, when the fictional work attracts and impresses us, it doesn't make any difference.
Or does it?
Doron Gil, Ph.D. is the author of: "The Self-Awareness Guide to a Successful Intimate Relationship:
Article Source:,_Ph.D./742948

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Blog Tour: Star Passages Series by Clark R. Burbidge

Purchase Book Three: Honor and Mercy
I have started indulging in book series, and this new fondness of book series has to be shared with my readers. Recently, I discovered the Star Passage Book Series by Clark R. Burbidge. I am fascinated by paranormal books and movies, and the Star Passage Book Series include not only paranormal activity but time travel, as well. The well-written books prove that Clark R. Burbidge dedicated a lot of time to research to satisfy his readers' thirst for adventure. These three books are great reads for the summer months.

I have included an excerpt from Book Three: Honor and Mercy. I think you will enjoy reading this book series once you read the excerpt. 

Star Passage Book Three Excerpt from Chapter One

Clynt felt a tremor of excitement buzz through his body. He had waited for over a century for this moment. Every sleepless hour he had plotted and planned for the opportunity to regain his physical life. It all pointed to this moment. He couldn’t believe he actually stood in the Present Time ready to claim the victory due him. Overwhelmed with a hundred years of blocked emotion, he hissed, “I’m free.” It hardly seemed possible. Standing triumphant over Tim’s sleeping form, he’d finally won. Revenge on the Carson family would be sweet, and nobody could stop him. “I’m free!” His words burst out this time in a greedy yell. “Get ready for the ride o’ yer life, boy.”He didn’t know how it worked yet, but he didn’t care. Nothing mattered except what happened in the next few seconds. Would it hurt? It don’t matter what it feels like. No pain’s gonna stop me from gettin’ my life back.Clynt hovered at the end of the bed. He closed his eyes and fell forward toward Tim, expecting something new and wonderful. Clynt’s ghostly shade met Tim’s body, causing Tim to stir. But Clynt’s form didn’t stop, continuing through like a child who lands in the water and sinks below the surface. Clynt felt nothing. “Strange. Shoulda done somethin’.” He opened his eyes and looked around in confusion, realizing he had passed completely through Tim, the mattress, and frame. Initially confused at what greeted his view, he stared at the beams that supported the bedroom floor.“What’s happenin’ here? I’m inside the floor,” he yelled and willed himself to rise back up into Tim’s bedroom. Clynt floated next to the bed. “Musta missed him.” He kept his eyes open this time and jumped onto the bed landing on Tim feet first.“Got ’em square. This time it’s gotta work!”His boots sank through into the floor leaving half of his body visible above Tim. Tim rolled over, eyes fluttering. “The boy feels somethin’. Gonna wake him up if I ain’t careful.” What’d I do wrong?He tried to think. Clynt felt his frustration building toward explosion. He tried to calm himself. I’ve waited so long. Everything depends on this working. The explosion won out. Clynt howled at the ceiling, rose up, and tried a third and then a fourth time, yelling in anger with each failed attempt. Beaten, he sat down on the floor in the bedroom, shaking his head.“Come on, Clynt ol’ boy. Think. What’s the problem here?”He swayed and moaned in such a way that, could it have been heard, it would have been a perfect haunting sound track from a Hollywood movie. But Clynt wasn’t fully part of the Present Time so his rage went unnoticed. After several minutes, Clynt looked at the bed again. Astounded, he froze immediately. Tim was sitting up, looking around the room.A panic-filled thought rushed through his mind like a runaway train. Does he know I’m here? Tim’s head swiveled back and forth. Clynt watched the boy closely for any sign of recognition.

Questions and Answers with Clark Burbidge

1.             What inspired you to create this series? A silver star at the top of my son’s family Christmas tree a couple of years ago. It was a beautiful setting as they placed it at the top and I commented that there was a good story there somewhere. The idea kept bouncing around in my head and then combined with the difficulties we experienced when I was growing up with what I now have come to understand was my Father’s struggle with PTSD from his experiences in the Korean War. Within a month the story was well underway. I wanted people, especially children who struggle to feel there is real hope that they can overcome family challenges and personal challenges. This book provides such hope and encouragement I believe.

2.             How would you describe the characters Bobby and Mike? Brothers and best friends. Bobby looks up to and idolizes Mike, his older brother. They are also competitive and both try to outdo each other especially at surfing. Bobby is devastated and guilty as a result of the accident and injury to Mike. He feels responsible. They struggle together as a team to move forward.

3.             How would you explain the dynamic between Bobby, Mike and the Carsons? How does it evolve through the book? Bobby first comes into contact with Tim and it is a very rough interaction at first. With a lot of work Bobby comes around and the Carsons meet Mike. Their relationships grow through experiencing passages together and surviving difficult trials together. The families grow closer as they learn through their shared experiences more about each other as well as themselves. 

4.             What was the most rewarding moment you experienced in writing StarPassage: Book Two, Heroes and Martyrs? The experience of Bobby and Mike meeting their ancestor in person and (spoiler) saving his life. The moment when Grandpa Chris also meets his Father for the first time is also touching. There is another moment when Mike has the opportunity to turn the clock back and avoid the accident that paralyzed him and chooses not to do it. These insights were moving to me when they burst upon the stage of my mind. I hope readers will feel the spirit of these moments just as I did. The book is full of these kinds of moments.

5.             What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing this book? It’s always tough to write a squeal. It’s a satisfying challenge to develop the story and characters, introduce new characters and ratchet up the adventure and excitement. You can’t just do the same thing over again. The story needs to move forward as do the characters and as they do it opens doors to more excitement and meaningful experiences for the reader and the author.

6.             What does your writing process look like? I don’t really set an outline per se. I like to write as if I am experiencing the story as the characters do. This means I don’t know what I will discover when I round the bend. It makes it very exciting for me to write and I can hardly wait to get back to it. In a way it is like what I hope my readers experience when they put my book down, I hope they can’t wait to find out what’s next. This also keeps me from experiencing writer’s block.

7.             What type of research did you do?  Research for any book is critical. However, it is more complex when you involve the Present as well as historical settings. Researching the D-Day Parachute drops and the 101stairborne, the attack on the twin towers in 2001 and the interaction with the Riders were both interesting and touching. My interview with Creighton and Lisa Rider was a wonderful and touching experience. They are delightful to speak with and inspirational. I really hope that comes through in the book and encourages support for those courageous souls who battle disease or injury for which there is no clear cure. Life goes on and can still be incredibly meaningful and make a difference even though we are through curve balls. 

8.             What drew you to the genre of young adult fantasy adventure? I believe young adults and middle readers need exciting reading that also inspires and uplifts with strong well designed characters that can be identified with and respected. They are not superheroes but rather regular people that demonstrate the power each of us have within to bravely stand for what we believe, have hope and the faith that we are never alone. I believe my books can make a difference with young adults and help give them direction, purpose and a reason to become something more than they otherwise might have been.

9.  What is the key to attracting young readers? I believe they want to have a story that transports them to an adventure where the can find something of themselves in the characters and identify with the process and thereby absorb the lessons so they can apply them in their own life. It is not just about attracting, rather it is about holding attention with real stories that compel and inspire. Making them memorable and raising their expectations in life and their courage in stepping up to do hard things. I believe all young people are better off if they learn that they can accomplish hard things. Too much of writing in literature and on the screen has become lazy due to over-reliance on CGI and gratuitous violence, profanity, immorality or cheap crude humor. Young people respond better to a well written story, dialogue and good writing than anything else. A story and characters that draw them in and move them along make all the difference.

10.  What has been one of your own greatest adventures? By far my greatest adventure has been marrying my wife Leah which created a blended family of 10 children overnight. It has been wonderful and full of unexpected twists and turns almost daily. This wild ride of course continues. We have overcome great challenges along the way and have much still to accomplish but it has been something we have done together and we both cherish every day, every challenge and every joy. Oh and by the way…they just keep on coming…

11.  StarPassage: Book Two, Heroes and Martyrs continues with the relic guiding the Carsons to two brothers, Bobby and Mike, andthrough a series of dangerous adventures through time to solve the relic's riddles, save lives, and escape the ever-increasing Tracker threat. If you were able to travel back in time to any moment in history, which would you choose? I have thought a lot about that and always seem to come to one situation. I would like to stand at the tomb of Lazarus as he steps out having been raised from the dead by Jesus to a life where he is named public enemy number 2 just behind the Savior himself. I would like to get to know Lazarus and understand better his motivation and how Jesus changed his life and especially learn about what happened following the great event at his tomb and how he carried on after the Savior was Crucified and Resurrected.

12.  Which writers inspired you as a kid? Which writers inspire you today? As a kid I read a lot of Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury (Sci-Fi). In my 20’s and 30’s I enjoyed more of Tolkien and CS Lewis as well as history and historical fiction. Nowadays I am always reading a couple of books trying to appreciate good writing styles and discovering interesting parts of history.

Purchase Book Two: Heroes and Martyrs
13.  When do you expect the next installment of the series to come out? I am working on Book Three of the series now. I am very excited where the tale is going and am about 2/3’s through. It is an adventure every day. I expect to submit it to the publisher this summer and have it available summer of 2018.  My wife, Leah, and I are also excited about our book on Blended Families that we are finishing together. We are looking for a great publisher that has interest in bringing something truly ground-shaking and inspiring to the ever-increasing world of the needs of blended families. Every person is touched in some way by what we call the “Family Blender”. We believe our 10 principles of a successful blended family will truly make a difference.

Connect with Clark Burbidge.

Blog Tour: I Can Handle Him by Debbie Lum

For the month of July, I think that you will enjoy reading the book, I Can Handle Him by Debbie Lum. A romantic suspense novel, I Can Handle Him, is the perfect choice to add to your reading list for the summer.

If only it hadn’t rained.

Those five opening words in I CAN HANDLE HIM send a few important signals that some readers might miss. This scene sets the stage for Quinn and Tory to be arm-in-arm (showing their closeness), side-stepping puddles, when Quinn notices her frizzed-out hair in her reflection in a downtown storefront (showing her concern for her appearance.) Both of those traits, their closeness and Quinn’s insecurities with her looks, come up later in the book. But there is a deeper meaning in those five opening words. Much later, we find one of our characters back in that same parking lot, after a rain. But this character is side-stepping puddles alone. And she’s not gripping her best-friend’s arm; her hands are fisted in anger. There’s a chance that only serious, clue-hunting readers will pick up on something else too: the very, very important reason why I needed to have puddles of water on that parking lot. If only it hadn’t rained…

Purchase I CAN HANDLE HIM via Amazon.

Questions and Answers with Debbie Lum

  1. Where did you grow up /live now? Tampa, Florida and now I split my time between Florida and Texas. As the saying goes, I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!
  2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? For me it was more of what did I NOT want to be, and that was a doctor, nurse or anything medical. I get dizzy even thinking of medical questions and even fainted at one of my kid’s doctor’s appointments. Interesting though, when I write medical scenes, it doesn’t bother me at all!
  3. What is your education/career background? I’m a proud graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, with a B.A. in Mass Communications.
  4. Do you have kids and/or pets?I’m the mother to two impressive young men, one in law school and the other a recent college graduate.
  5. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write? Writing was something I had only done for work, writing speeches or press releases, so I never imagined writing anything like a novel. It happened by accident as a way to get a story idea out of my head. After much research (and work), I’m now the author of five novels!
  6. Where/When do you best like to write? I’ve written three books in Virginia, and two in Texas, and those two in Texas were written in two different locations. So apparently it doesn’t matter to me where I write!
  7. Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions? After I get a story idea in my head, I begin a “scribble book.” My scribble books are simple spiral-bound notebooks where I capture all of my ideas. The scribble books are so handy when you need to go back to check on something you researched or want to change a character’s name and need to remember the first names that had come to mind.
  8. When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again? Flying on an airplane! That is where I do most of my story conceptualizing.
  9. What do you think makes a good story? Characters that make you wish you were them (and characters that make you thankful you are NOT them too!)
  10. What inspired your story? I wanted to write a story about two best friends at a turning point in their lives and the decisions they make.
  11. How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you? Story ideas come to me when I am flying, or when I’m on the treadmill listening to music. I let my mind wander and there is a sweet-spot in daydreams where stories are born.
  12. Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Believe in your friends, even when others around you are wanting you to question your friendship. Make your own decisions.
  13. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? How fun the research part would be! You begin by researching “X”  but during that research you uncover “Y and Z”
  14. On a Friday night, what are you most likely to be doing? My husband and I are creatures of habit, and we started getting barbecue to go from a local barbecue restaurant on Friday nights. Now, we’d much rather get our to go barbecue than go out to any restaurant on Friday nights!
  15. What do you like to do when you are not writing? Talk to my kids! I have been fortunate to have raised two young men who are big communicators. They love to tell me about their days (in law school and college) and I love to listen.
  16. Who are some of your favorite authors?Since I’m not a reader, I don’t have any favorites! I’m going to need to add “reading” as one of my New Year’s Resolutions and ask my fans for suggestions!
  17. Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?I have travelled from Russia to Italy to Turkey but I have never been to Australia or the orient. Add that to the list!
  18. What person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?When I first began writing, I had kept it a secret. But one friend, Jill, pulled it out of me. She’s one of those friends who probes a little deeper, and then follows up with support and questions. She’s turned into my number one beta reader and is the first one I’ll tell when I am writing a new novel. She also sees the first draft. I appreciate her helps me through the not-so-enthusiastic times! 
  19. What’s the best writing advice you have ever received? Put your best foot forward. That was good advice from another friend and beta reader, Keri.

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