Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex (reviewed here on Tuesday), has written an original guest post about the interface between fact and fiction which takes a completely new approach to the subject. We have a giveaway opportunity at the end, too, for US and Canadian readers.
In Studio Saint-Ex, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes The Little Prince in 1940s New York while involved with two determined, creative women—only one of whom existed in real life. Did I cringe as I created a fictional lover for Saint-Exupéry? Actually, no. It was a bold departure, but I felt comfortable. Like the robot that looks robotic, there was no pretence that the character Mignonne was a re-creation of someone real.
What got under my skin were the small discrepancies that research unearthed, elements that troubled me because (like those slightly unrefined androids) they seemed vaguely off, not quite aligned with what I had believed to be true. I'd been certain, for example, that WWII garments were uninspired and uptight... but here was real-life designer Valentina (in a book by Kohle Yohannan) astounding my eye with some of the most luxurious, sensual, and inspired fashions I'd ever seen, and in the very place and time period of Studio Saint-Ex. Could I give the same aesthetic to designer Mig? It was justifiable. Provable. But how to make it believable?
|Ania Szado (credit: Joyce Ravid)|
I gritted my teeth and set out to make Mig feel indisputably real, to push through the valley of discomfort into the welcome realm of suspended disbelief.
Here's my three-stage version of the writer's uncanny valley: (a) feeling good that we've started, unconcerned that our characters are still more wooden than human; (b) growing nauseous—the more we research and refine our characters, the more we see where our efforts are failing in a million tiny, excruciating ways; (c) crawling out of that dark hole into the glorious sense that we know them—those fully realized, deeply felt people who populate our pages—as well as we know ourselves.
Interested in your own copy of Studio Saint-Ex? Please fill out the form below; deadline Friday, June 14th. The winner will be selected via a random drawing with the help of random.org. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers. Good luck!