Fiction Is Truth (2)

Equally true to life is my novel set during the fall of Saigon, Last of the Annamese. I escaped under fire after the North Vietnamese were already in the streets of the city. But my motivation for sticking to the facts in Annamese was sparked by an additional need: to vent. Thanks to my time in combat on the battlefield and especially due to my living through the bombardment and attack on Saigon by the North Vietnamese, I suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), a mental disorder that can never be healed; the victim must learn to cope. But because I held multiple top secret codeword clearances, I was forbidden from seeking psychological therapy. I had to learn to deal with the disorder on my own. I found that to come to terms with my unbearable memories, I had to bring them into my conscious mind and face them head on. The easiest way for me to achieve that goal was to write down what happened. So I did. That became the novel, Last of the Annamese.

So it was with all my books. One of my most recent, Secretocracy (Adelaide Books, 2020), tells of President Donald Trump’s persecution of an intelligence budgeteer for refusing to fund an illegal operation. Trump in fact did do that. And another president—who will remain unnamed because of the high level of classification of the operation he was pushing—also did that to me while I was assigned to the budgeting office of the Director of Central Intelligence. So Secretocracy is also factual. But the name of the president and his victim have been changed to protect the guilty.

I could go on, but you get the point. What I write is fiction in name only. All that points to an aspect of fiction that usually overlooked: fiction, to be successful, must tell the truth. Put differently, even though fictional stories are not factual, they must convey the truth about human beings accurately, or readers will cease reading them.

More next time.

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