There is nothing new under the sun, Eric Griggs. Just different arrangements of the playing cards.
I read In Cold Blood for the first time, as a matter of fact, when I was the same age as the kids in my fictional tale about gay conversion therapy, The Bad Stuff.
I remember asking Mrs. Gerhardt, my elderly 8th grade English teacher, how Mr. Capote could possibly know all the tiny details he was writing about.
Even at 14, I knew he probably wasn’t omniscient.
She told me something that stuck with me. “He’s not letting the details get in the way of telling the truth.”
I didn’t know it then, but fictionalized memoir and novelized non-fiction were going to become very important to me as a writer, eventually.
In fact, I spent a couple years writing the memoirs of a guy who was involved in war crimes in Iraq and then some police brutality here in the US.
It hasn’t been published yet, but it might be one day. My agent and editor both love it.
It’s cool as hell to know how Mae West got her start.
It’s definitely true that art begets art, and that we all owe debts of creativity to those who came before us.
If I any of my creative nonfiction ever becomes popular, I’ll certainly owe Truman Capote (and Mrs. Gerhardt).
The serial I’m doing here on Medium about gay conversion therapy, though, is perhaps on the other side of the line.
It’s more fiction based on fact, than nonfiction told with a novelist’s technique.
What’s funny is how incredibly similar it is to write in both genres.
There’s a skosh more freedom in what I’m doing now. If I don’t like how something is moving along, I can change it without respect to chronology or somebody’s actual narrative.
In the Iraq piece, I couldn’t do that, of course.
But both types of writing end up feeling the same in the end.
And it’s a tremendous amount of fun writing that kind of thing.
If there’s anything better to do with your clothes on than writing stories, I’ve yet to figure out what it is.