I must ask the question: how can a historical novelist keep up? With the barrage of fantastic inventions purported to be alternative facts clogging the sphere of information around us, what chance does a novelist have in creating believable plots set against historical facts? I mean, really, I work hard at making up plotlines and then I turn on the news and find that the talking heads across the political spectrum blabber along making up their own facts. At least I try to make my stuff believable. Not so with the axe-grinders and data fakers on TV and in the press.
Really, it is an insult to the genre! Here I sit, my IMAC glowing before me as I weave a story of intrigue involving real events and people only to see that all my work is eclipsed by a talking head in DC who looks eerily like Josef Goebbels. Did they send out to central casting for him? All this “might makes right” stuff was supposed to be trounced after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Now that the contents of the Pandora’s Box of extremism have been released and given oxygen, it will be hard for anyone with a reasonable plotline to succeed. After all, it will take a plot with a superhero who has the power to kill off the alt-right zombies to seem believable in the future. If this sound like whining, well, I guess I just must step up my game.
Up until today, February has been a gloomy, albeit warm month. Outside of a brief spate of snow which kept the talking heads at the TV weather centers on edge, here in the Garden State we have been lucky. No snow to shovel, no ice for me to fall on. Nice. Still, the absence of really bad weather has a negative effect. I am working on the dénouement of my next book and since the action takes place during a snowstorm, the absence of such furious weather makes my job all the more difficult. I guess it is an alternative winter to go with the alternative facts.
This lack of the Siberian effect is felt all the more today as the thermometer soared to seventy and I spent my post-prandial siesta on the deck hoping that the sun’s piercing rays might turn my winter-pasty skin a more healthful color.
I’ve reached that point of keeping track of the ages listed in the obituary headlines and noting how many younger people have been checking out lately. As a result, not looking like a corpse has been on my mind of late. When they convene the death panels I want to look like I am worth keeping–at least for a while.
Lastly, I suppose I must confess that popular culture is of little interest to me. By that I mean, the barrage of TV reportage that follows the nightly news and covers the peccadillos of the almost famous. The reason I mention this is that I have been criticized about setting my novels in an era over seventy years ago. This seems odd to me because two of the most popular TV shows involve the Dark Ages and Edwardian Britain. At the same time, a look at the Netflix listings show a plethora of WWII movies and TV dramas, often made in Europe with slow-paced subtitles crawling across the bottom of the screen. I suppose, it is easy to imagine characters and plots set against periods in which the facts are well-established rather than try to navigate through a sea of people exercising their fifteen minutes of fame.
Nonetheless, I may skip ahead a few decades in the next book. I just have to think my way back into a snowstorm to finish this one.
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