Hi all! I thought I’d share one of my latest interviews with you. It originally appeared on http://www.fiction-books.biz/meet-the-authors/new-on-the-shelf-at-fiction-books-this-week-79/. Enjoy!
“IT’S FICTION. DO I REALLY NEED FACTS?” by Roy A. Teel Jr.
As a novelist, I’m often asked, “How much fact is in your fiction?” The answer might surprise you – a lot. It’s one thing to sit down and write a story; it’s another to introduce real places and attractions into your scenes. In my 30-book Los Angeles based Iron Eagle crime novel series, one of the most important things I do is focus on real places and locations in and around Los Angeles. I also spend a great deal of time researching my subject matter.
Writing fiction requires research. For instance, in each of my novels, my readers can fact-check subject matter or locations, and they’ll find verifiable information and actual places. Why is this important? Readers not only want to engage with the plot, characters, and places in your writing, but they also want to know that the things you write about have a basis in reality.
For example, in Rise of The Iron Eagle (book one in my series), I take my readers into a dark, unforgiving world. This series isn’t about things that can’t hurt you; it deals with things that can and do happen to people every day when they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time or let their guard down. The Iron Eagle novels are extremely violent with scenes of torture and murder, and they’re filled with police procedures, military action, police language, and CSI investigations. They’re all set in real locations around Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. This means that the places, people, and procedures have to be believable.
One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is not fact-checking and doing their research. If the storyline is not believable, and your readers can’t look up something that you are claiming or using in your writing as a fact, your credibility will take a hit (and it’ll show up on the review pages of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and other review sites). It is paramount that new and established writers do their homework. For the Iron Eagle series, I have consulted with medical professionals, lawyers, medical examiners, local and federal authorities, and prison officials – most of whom are friends, but all are people I trust to confirm my facts. Authors must ensure that they are not only writing a compelling story, but that everything can be verified (which lends credibility to both the story and the author).
On several occasions, a reader or reviewer has said to me, “I couldn’t put your novel down. The places you write about are so vivid. I can see them in my mind’s eye.” I have also received email messages from readers who were impressed with the fact that they looked up some of my terminology, or a place in Los Angeles, and learned that it was a real place or something even scarier than fiction because it was true. Facts make my novels much more real, which has been known to terrify readers (and simultaneously make them crave the next installment).
So, remember, just because you’re writing fiction doesn’t mean that you can ignore facts. It is those details that make fiction compelling and, in many cases, very real for the reader.