Last night, I was reading Rob Brunner’s review of The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson in Entertainment Weekly while watching the big football game (yay, Giants!) and came across this line:
Johnson has created such a convincing universe [North Korea] that it doesn’t really matter if he’s accurately captured every detail. It FEELS real, often terrifyingly so.
I thought to myself: That’s gotta be one of the best compliments a writer can get. What’s interesting, too, about Johnson is that he apparently put a lot of effort into researching North Korea and North Korean life, even traveling there in 2007. I thought of my own traveling to upstate New York in May 2010 in order to write Baby Grand to get a better feel for what I was talking about. I remember a colleague saying, “What does it matter? This is fiction, right?”
True. But I guess I’m the kind of writer who likes to see how things really are in order to imagine how they can also be — a mix of fact and fiction, which is how it appears Johnson has also crafted his book.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, an author-friend of mine Jeb Ladouceur doesn’t like to visit any city or location that he writes about. He feels it stifles, rather than enhances, his creativity.
Every writer has a different process, but in the end as long as we can all make it “feel real,” as Brunner says, we can all be successful.