In my first published book, the opening scenes are about a place where I actually worked at the time. I changed the name of the company and the town; the outfit’s title is an ironic synonym of the real one. It gave me a certain pleasure to know, when at work, that I was playing in that way. The characters are based on real people, yet no scene ever occurred in real life. That way, I wasn’t mocking anyone. I was slightly critical of the operation itself in my novel, but mostly it’s humor.
I have no idea if anyone I worked with ever read my books but they could. My name is the same. They would recognize our workplace and their roles but not themselves. The person I was closest to—that I went with for beer across the street after work sometimes—is not in there.
With memoirs, people worry about those in their life represented in their book, whether they’ll be offended, angry, hurt. That can be a barrier to writing the book they want—even need—to write. If they’re honest, it could just feel invasive, too personal. But what is honest? We all have our own view of a situation. I suppose at times there could be an intention of revenge. At times, it might be deserved.
But no one in my fiction could say there’s a true resemblance to them in my novel. I call the owners the “queen and king.” The accountant did not actually wear a large ring of keys, I don’t think, though she seemed like someone who might like to. One staff member I portray colorfully turned out to be rather disingenuous so I fictionalized scenes that could be parallel to actuality, having a comparable “value,” a similar “weight.” Some say it can be healing to write a new ending to a hurtful story from one’s past, or to write a different outcome to a bad dream. Carl Jung said any creative act comes from a deep place. I imagine I crafted those scenes with some soul purpose.
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