Writing about reality. Well, sort of

In the realm of authors, the topic comes out often about writing about a true story, or parallel to that, something that really happened.

In the world of fiction, an author often must be careful. In my historical, The Train Stops Here, while it wasn’t based on a true story, it was based in a place that really existed, and a situation that happened often – which is that the Great Depression, it was the job of the Section Foreman for the railroad to throw the hobos off the train.

When my mother was a child this was her life, her father was the Section Foreman, and this is what she saw happen, although as a young child, she didn’t understand the situation or the times. What she did see was that when her father kicked the men out of the boxcars, when he wasn’t looking, her mother would feed them.  Of course, in the middle of nowhere in the countryside, once kicked off the train there was nowhere for them to go. Everyone knew they jumped on the next train that left, but there was nothing anyone could do, so everyone just let it happen. Bottom line, the hobos were gone. It was true he kicked them off the train, though.

Also, one thing I mentioned in the book was the town bootlegger. My mother made double sure I didn’t give out too much information on him or his family. So that was also based on truth, but only as much truth as could be told.

That’s the thing about fiction. The author has to make it as close to reality as possible.