Wednesday, January 30, 2013
USING REAL PEOPLE
I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile now and haven‘t yet decided what is best. My story is about real people: my mother and her journey to Texas as an orphan. It’s not a biography, but a fiction story based on her life. As it is now, I use her real name, her sibling’s names, the real town, and the family that raised her. There are many fictional characters too and a lot of “made up” events because I know so little about her real life.
The manuscript has been under contract since 2009, and I’m now having the contract cancelled so I can move forward with the story. I know, I should have done something earlier, but I kept busy with my other work so wasn’t too concerned. I am now, however. But I may go through and change names. I tried doing that before, but it just did not seem like my mother’s story using a fictional name. I’ve been reading articles online about the pros and cons of using real people. Also a couple of books I have mention the legality of doing so. I still haven’t decided what is best.
Since all of the characters involved are no longer living, one article said they can’t sue you. Mmm, that makes sense. Of course, there are the descendants. I’ve kept in touch with a few of the foster family members, the younger generation, of course. None of the real people in the story are bad or evil. The troublemakers are fictional. The characters are just children learning to adjust to new families and lives.
Have any of you dealt with a similar situation? What did you do about it? Thanks for any advice you might offer.