I call When Red Is Blue a “mevel.” I’ve never heard the term before so I think I made it up, but it’s not extraordinarily clever, so it’s likely someone coined it before me. It’s a dovetailing of “memoir” and “novel” (if you haven’t already guessed). I suppose I could have gone with “novoir” instead, but novoir sounds a bit pretentious, which bothers me.
So what am I, as a self-proclaimed mevelist, confessing exactly?
Although I describe the book as a fictionalized account of events that happened during my childhood and twenties, I’m still a little leery that, at some point, an indignant talk show host/critic/internet troll will claim I said the story is 100% true and now he’s found out I took liberties with this part or that part and “how could I?!” and so on…So for my first blog post, I decided to come clean on which parts I wrote with the intent of telling the “truth” versus telling a story.
First of all, the word “truth” is not really correct with regard to any written work, because as soon as a person begins the process of writing it, they are actually telling “a truth” or rather, their subjective view of the truth. This happens – without exception – in memoirs, biographies and even history books, to some extent. So when I say an aspect of the book is “true,” it is only true from my point of view, and the other participants in the story would most certainly recall a somewhat different version of events.
I also admit I don’t have a photographic memory (and was not, at any time, carrying a tape recorder), so any and all dialogue in the book is fictional, though I was, of course, aiming for realism. So for each scene, I started with a memory of an event, the people involved and the outcome. Then I created conversations that could have taken place in order to arrive at that outcome.
While the sequence of events is as accurate as my memory allows, the timeframes I used are sometimes off by a few weeks to a few months. Any variations in timings I decided to make were to enable the story to flow better. References to someone’s date of birth were also altered for privacy purposes. As for the events themselves, they all happened – so no need to create, add to or dramatize.
People, Places and Things
Most place names and all character names (and their descriptions) have been changed. I think this goes without saying, but there you are. All the book’s characters except two represent real people. My editor suggested I further develop one of my main characters, so I created two people who compelled Kate to segue into an in-depth sequel about that character. The Polaroid on the cover is an actual photo of my parents and me. I believe it was taken on a Cape Cod beach, though I’m not 100 percent certain. The date on it makes me five years old, which is Kate’s age in Chapter One. This is purely a coincidence – the idea of using the photo for the cover was a recent one and I noticed the character and photo Kates were the same age by accident.
I think that’s it. No wonder Catholics are so big on confessions – I feel better already! Obviously, this is just an overview. If you are curious about anything specific that I haven’t mentioned, drop me a line in the Comments area.