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Author Christopher Gudgeon on the lies created by writers

Christopher Gudgeon is the bestselling author of the novel Song of Kosovo. He was also a reader for the 2014 Creative Nonfiction Prize. Here, he explains why he believes there is no distinction between fiction and nonfiction writing. 

I don’t make a distinction in any real way between fiction and nonfiction. They are not opposites in my mind, but points on a continuum. Each particular 'fiction' and 'nonfiction' we writers create is a unique and formalized lie, manipulating objective truth and pure invention to, hopefully, tell an engaging story and in the process achieve a particular effect on the reader. 

For example, in writing a 'biography' of someone like Stan Rogers or Milton Acorn, I am not approaching it from the perspective of rendering an objective truth about that person. 'Based on a true story' is about as close I can hope to get. Even the most detailed biography is a kind of avatar or, more darkly, a simulacrum that supersedes the actual life lived and becomes a truth in its own right. Which goes to say, I never set out to write a work of fiction or nonfiction. I have only set out to write a book using all the tricks I know. The categories are there for publishers (who have their quotas), readers (who have their biases), librarians (who demand order) and those poor folks who stack books at Chapters."

Christopher Gudgeon is a bestselling author, screenwriter and producer. He’s written 17 books, ranging from critically acclaimed fiction like the recent novel Song of Kosovo to celebrated biographies of Stan Rogers and Milton Acorn. Along with contributing to numerous magazines—from Mad and Playboy to The Malahat Review and Geist—he’s has numerous film and TV credits, including creating/writing and producing both GeoFreakz and the Gemini-award winning Ghost Trackers 


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