It’s quite a well-known saying, that reality is stranger than fiction. Three authors, Sulari Gentill, Nick Earls and Stuart Littlemore have written stories based on real life, and these stories have impacted their lives in different ways.
Sulari Gentill is the author of Miles Off Course, an Australian crime series based on the 1930s. The 1930s is an interesting time in Australian history, with the New Guard and Old Guard roaming around. Fascism, communism and other political ideas were floating around, but as Gentill found out, the many times that Australians went to the brink of major social change, they decided against it and went to have a cup of tea.
Miles Off Course is the third book of Rowland Sinclair and his companions, who are enjoying their time at The Hydro Majestic – Medlow Bath, when one of the characters goes missing. The stories found in the series have been called unbelievable by publishers, and harder to imagine for readers. To help with believability, Gentill uses newspaper articles at the start of each chapter.
Gentill speaks of her being a writer, and says it is isolating due to living so much inside her head. For her husband, it can be difficult, especially when Gentill uses him as a basis for her character. Her husband has people recognise him in her books, and she gets some comments about ‘how could anyone be with him?’ When she realises this is the man she married, she wonders if this is a good thing to use her husband as a character.
Nick Earls is politically minded and very outspoken. He is the author of Welcome To Normal, which is different to his other works, which are lighthearted and not as serious. Welcome To Normal is a collection of short stories from real life, and Earls has gone out of his way to find stories that are unseen and unheard. Each of us think we know what a normal life is, but there are all kinds of normal lives. Earls, in his stories, shows readers a different perception of normal.
For Earls, reality and fiction met while writing Welcome To Normal. He had an idea of asking his followers on Twitter if any of them wanted their name in his next novel. Around 1000 people responded, and Earls decided to use people’s names as all of his characters. Some people have asked him about their character in his story. One was a doctor in training, who wanted to know if their character was going to be similar to themselves. Turned out the character was very different, a stripper.
Stuart Littlemore, QC, has spent many years in the courts, and knows many stories that those outside have no idea about. His new book is Harry Curry: The Murder Book, and tells tales of the defendants of murders, trying to get their clients out of the legal predicament they’re in. The court system is something that many people know about from television and in books, but most of them haven’t been in a courtroom or as part of a trial. Littlemore hopes that his stories will provide clarity and transparency for the courts, so that people can understand why the decisions that are made are.
It is a truth about the court system that lawyers are there to win, and that’s what they are trained to do. They aren’t trained to decide justice, to be fair, to be moral and stand up for law and order, but are there to win. Littlemore, in his stories, uses judges, lawyers and other people involved in the court system. This connects reality and fiction, as the people the characters are based on are real life people. One judge found himself being call ‘tall, rat-faced’, but had no legal recourse as it was claimed that the character can’t be based on the judge as he is 5’3″, and very much ‘not short’.
Writers often live in different worlds, the ones created in their minds and the reality we all share. It can be difficult at times, and in many instances reality and fiction blur together. In the end, reality is always stranger than fiction.
Aaron Monopoli is a media student at Southern Cross University.