From Fact to Fiction

Anton Chekov had it right—especially for writers like me.

As an established non-fiction writer in British Columbia, Canada, I am now branching out into fiction and the issue of “telling” versus “showing” is paramount.

The biggest problem for writers going from writing non-fiction to writing fiction is being able to switch from telling the story to showing a picture, thereby capturing the readers’ attention in the process.

I have written since I was a child in England. I always loved making up stories and using my imagination. When we lived on a small farm for a few years, I would take off on my own wandering the fields while imagining in my head all manner of things. One day I was a princess locked away in a castle waiting for a prince to come and rescue me and flee away on his horse.  Another day I would sit under the large willow tree with its branches weeping to the ground and pretend I was anything from a famous actress to a writer of best-selling novels.

But when I left school I studied journalism in London so I soon learnt how to “tell” a good story. This eventually led me to becoming a newspaper columnist and then writing non-fiction and true crime books. I particularly enjoyed all the research involved. Back in England I had  also written a few short stories and been published in a number of magazines but once I moved to Canada, I completely turned from fiction and began writing historical non-fiction which soon became my genre of choice and I was good at it.

After successfully publishing over twenty books, the little voice inside my head kept telling me I should try something new—perhaps return to fiction. I had always longed to create a family saga through many generations and because by then I had grown to love the history of my adopted city—Victoria—what better place to set my story than in the city I knew most about? With all the ingredients necessary for a five-generational family saga, I began to create a mammoth tale set on the new frontier with a mighty theme. But soon my one very long manuscript turned into two books, then three, and then four. A series had been born.

I have often wondered over the past four years if I aimed too high for my debut into fiction. My “mighty book” with a “mighty theme” began to prove more and more difficult to create. But, being a strong believer in following your dream and never giving up, I have continued. The first book (Providence) in The McBride Chronicles will be released in the near future – COVID permitting. 

Providence’s journey has been a bumpy one. During its creation, I have experienced immeasurable family loss and many other upsets long the way. The latest of course is the pandemic. I also believe that life can teach you a lot. In my case, I hope what has happened over the past four years has made me a better writer.

Meanwhile, in order to make Book One the best it can be, I have had to overcome the problem of showing rather than telling as I transcended into the world of fiction. I want readers to experience all the emotions felt by my two main characters, Jane and Gideon, and come to love them as much as I do.  Their lives have consumed me for so long and I can’t wait for them to be also enjoyed by readers everywhere. And I promise more family dynamics and excitement in future books in the McBride Chronicles.

But first, Providence is most definitely calling!  Those of us who leave our comfort zone and venture into the unknown to follow our dream, are the ones who win in the end. Do you agree?