Books·Why I Write

Kathy Page on how to reveal truth when writing fiction that's based on real life

In this special CBC Books video series, Canadian authors talk about what literature means to them.

'It's important to feel that there's a story that needs to be told.'

Kathy Page on how to write great fiction that's based on real life

2 years agoVideo
3:21
In the latest episode of the CBC Books' video series Why I Write, the award-winning author talks about her writing process and how to write fiction based on personal experience. 3:21

Kathy Page's 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize-winning historical novel, Dear Evelyn, tells the story of a husband and wife and their 70-year long marriage in England. Over the course of their long lives together, small fissures begin to widen and crack the foundation of their uneasy marriage. 

Dear Evelyn was inspired by Page's own parents' relationship and the love letters her father wrote to her mother during the Second World War. 

CBC Books talked to Page for the latest instalment of the Why I Write series.

Fiction from fact

"All the fiction I've written is an exercise in complicated empathy. And I do believe that's one of the things that fiction is really good for: developing our empathetic muscles.

"When you're writing anything, whether from personal sources or not, it's important to feel there's a story that needs to be told. There needs to be a drive and urgency about it. That's what will sustain you through all the artistic work ahead of you."

Engaged reading

"There are two sides to success as a writer: One is doing the thing that you set out to do and the other is connecting readers to the story. Readers bring their life to it, you bring your life to it and this amazing thing happens.

"Sometimes readers see a thing that you didn't intend or you didn't see yourself. Sometimes, readers seem to get the thing whole."

Kathy Page's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

The CBC Books Why I Write series features authors speaking on what literature means to them.

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