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Never let truth get in the way of a good story. . .

February 3, 2011

Dateline January 30, 2011 7:10 a.m. Lady Lake, Florida

Art of any kind must be grounded in truth. However abstract, there must be reference to universal human experience to be found, either in the artist’s intent or the audience’s reception. Like architectural design, not so much a two-way street as a collaboration, a joint production with all parties bringing their own perceptions and expectations into fruition.

Much of what I write arises from a real historical context. Real people who left behind some record of their lives. Yet (Tom Crean’s story excepted) what I’ve written about Francis Crozier and Sophy Cracroft or Corry and Billy is fiction.

Before each performance of “A Victorian Romance,” I spoke a few words: “The characters are based on real people. The story is entirely imagined.” Even so, many who spoke to me afterwards had questions about the letters that seemed to have passed between them. There were in fact no such letters. Yet without them, there would have been no story. At least not this story.

I have to keep reminding myself, “You are not writing history. You are telling a story.” Last night I read over Corry ‘s letter to my grandfather, about his paratrooper son lost over Germany in March of 1945. She is not the person who appears in the story. Had I adhered to the facts at hand, there would have been no story. At least not this story.

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