word craft


Commingling fact and fiction

Sophia's WarThe most dif­fi­cult aspect of Sophia’s War is the com­min­gling of fact and fic­tion. The sto­ry of Bene­dict Arnold’s trea­son, and John André’s fate, is not just well known, it has been researched and detailed to an extra­or­di­nary degree. One of the books I used to research the event pro­vid­ed pho­tographs and descrip­tions of every­where André went dur­ing that extra­or­di­nary moment—virtually step by step. More­over, my attempt to describe New York City dur­ing the British occu­pa­tion (1776–7183) is based on detailed research that has been done by oth­ers. It is all as “cor­rect” as I could write it. 

But Sophia her­self, and her sto­ry, is very much fic­tion. How can the two con­nect? It is because as the his­to­ri­ans of the events record, there are two key moments in the Arnold/André saga that have nev­er been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly illu­mi­nat­ed. His­to­ri­ans speak of “luck,” “fate,” and “coin­ci­dence.” Per­haps. But it is just at those points that I have been able to cre­ate a char­ac­ter, motive, and means, for these mys­te­ri­ous events to be explained. Not the least of what makes it all work is that Sophia does not want to be noticed, is not noticed, and indeed, can­not be noticed in the con­text of who and what she is—an inde­pen­dent young woman. It’s very much like that won­der­ful book title, Anony­mous Was a Woman

Ralph Wal­do Emer­son said (if I have it right) “His­to­ry is biog­ra­phy.” Sophia’s War is Sophia’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy. Just don’t look for her in his­to­ry books. You can only find her here. “The writer’s task,” as I once heard Paula Fox say, “is to imag­ine the truth.”

3 thoughts on “Commingling fact and fiction”

  1. Loved this! Thanks for shar­ing. I’m work­ing on a Span­ish-Amer­i­can war nov­el right now so this helps.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts