I started my professional life as a journalist, and I loved it. It was challenging and stimulating. I met some cool (and not so cool) people. But from the very beginning, fiction had my heart. I was never content with the ‘who, what and where’ of the reporting world though I never deviated from its rules. I used to think that facts didn’t always tell the real story. I still believe that.
Fiction is capable of telling hidden truths, loving truths, painful truths – the truths that make up our lives. The truths that haunt us or inform us, the ones that make us who we are and sometimes make us who we wish we weren’t.
Recently a plane crashed at the South Pole. Three Canadian men were on board. A helicopter was able to land near the crash site and a search team retrieved the cockpit voice recorder from the back of the plane. Sadly, the front of the plane was buried in snow, ice and rock. That means the bodies of the three men will stay there for months until weather allows for an easier retrieval. The news has provided details about the plane (a de Havilland), the company that owned it (Calgary based) and conditions and life at the South Pole (fascinating). The names of the three men have been mentioned too; there was a shot on the news of a ceremony held in their honor near the crash site.
Those are the facts. But the story – a multi-layered story of larger-than-life characters, of love and loss and horrendous grief that will shadow people for years – was missing.
The news can’t tell the story of the conversation between veteran polar pilot Bob Heath and his wife, Lucy, where he promised her that, after nearly a dozen trips to the Antarctic, this would be his last. Or the sweet details of 25-year-old Mike Denton’s wedding to Carlyn this past September. Or how Perry Anderson was a Rush fan and how he’d crack friends up with his play-by-play of Aussie dart matches.
The news isn’t about personalities, or emotions, or relationships. It doesn’t trade in small details. Not really. But fiction does. Fiction is about the stuff of life . . . stuff that rarely makes the news. It portrays real life in a way that news can’t. And that’s why I write it. I remain a news junkie; I follow it closely – too closely sometimes. But fiction still has my heart.
For those who want to read about the details and personal lives of the three men lost in the Antarctic crash:http://www.borekair.com/memorial/