[EDIT: I’ve revised the headline and parts of the text of this piece, as it seemed that the point was being missed. For clarity; it was intended to be a discussion about the nature of artistic license in non-fiction narrative. It will stay online for the sake of transparency.]
I have no idea whether it is a good idea to be putting the finer details of my personal life up for public scrutiny in a 400-page book. I am worried.
Things exist in this story that a big chunk of my ego does not want anyone to know. And I know I’m going to be judged for things I did and decisions I made.
Nevertheless, what I have been writing towards for the last two years is the unravelling of complicated truths behind complicated times. To write anything less than a brutally honest account would be an insult to myself and my readers. There is enough cherry-picking andtrue fact-twisting amongst self-aggrandising adventurers already.
But here’s the funny thing about honesty: my book departs often from scientific accuracy. I have changed not just names and locations but the very order of events, sometimes by weeks. I’ve invented conversations that never happened. I have combined many people into a handful of composite characters. I’ve omitted periods of time measured in months.
But I’m not intending to deceive or exaggerate. I’ve told a story that is truer than a laborious, scientific record. I feel no shame for doing so. Writing this book has been as creative an endeavour as a work of fiction. The goal — to produce a distilled version of events that entertains and enlightens and carries meaning — has guided every editorial decision. I never quite understood what was meant by ‘artistic license’ until now.
It’s also been of personal importance that I write this book, whether or not anyone else reads it, because the film, while a lovely rendition of the tale, is nevertheless somebody else’s rendition. The book is my own telling.
And it is with excitement and trembling nerves that I now share it. Signed pre-orders launch today. You can reserve yours here.
(Alternatively, come to the launch party and get one. It’ll be on Saturday 26th January in a central London cafe, and open to all. More details soon!)
Those of you who have asked for a Kindle edition — I can confirm that it will be available directly from the Janapar website, alongside the official release of the paperback. I’ll be putting it on Amazon and elsewhere later in the year.
It’s been difficult to share this story so candidly, but being judged is an occupational hazard in all creative work, and I still believe in the saying that ‘honesty is the best policy’. It helps us learn a little humility and self-reflection. And it ultimately makes for a truer, grittier and more enjoyable story.
That’s the plan, anyway!
Pre-order before next Sunday (20th) if you’d like me to sign & dedicate your copy. I’ll post it out to you a week ahead of the official release.