Questions I am often asked about my book, Nothing but the Truth.
Q: Is the story based on something that happened to you?
A: Not at all.
Q: Then what gave you the idea for the story?
A: I was living in the East Coast (Rhode Island) and read a news story about the turmoil that erupted in a small town when a school student got into trouble about singing (or not singing—I don’t recall) the Star Spangled Banner. What interested me was that apparently the whole town became involved, with people taking all kinds of positions.
Then too, I remembered something I read, about how a teacher staged a fight in a class room, and then asked students to write down what they just saw. As you might guess, the students reported many different versions of what happened. It was a lesson about how when people tell the truth, and that truth can be many things—often in conflict.
Consider a trial (from which the book title derives): people give different versions of the truth. They are not necessarily lying. They see thing differently. That fascinates me.
Q: Why did you write it in the style you did?
A: I wanted to take myself, the author, out of the story. That is, I just wanted to give the “facts” and what people said about those facts. Thus, it is for the reader to makes sense of it all. A traditional mystery story lays out a puzzle: Who did it? I wanted to lay out a different kind of puzzle: What happened?
Q: How did people react to the story?
A: What astonished me is how many teachers asked me: “Did someone tell you what happened in my school?” One teacher even sent me a piece of school stationary from a “Harrison High.” It actually had the same lamp of knowledge logo! Many readers, when they get to the last line of the book, get angry. That’s okay with me. That tells me they cared.
Q: Will you write a sequel?
A: I’ve never considered it. I think of the book as about a situation, and less about the characters. I don’t know what more story would add to the book. It’s very much a stand-alone.
For more information about how I came to write Nothing but the Truth, go to my blog post for September 18, 2018.