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The curious task of fictionalizing the ‘truth’ : a narrative inquiry for historical fiction

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Alison Owens
Woolloomooloo is an infamous working-class suburb spread along the docks between Kings Cross and Sydney city and has been largely overlooked as a setting for historical fiction. When you read in a 1939 edition of a major newspaper that a family member was found shot in the head on the precipitous steps from Woolloomooloo to Kings Cross, you know you have a story. When you read further and discover that not only did the injured party survive but claimed to have shot himself (with notably poor aim) and that no weapon was ever found, you know you have not only a story but also a developing problem. Will you be able to uncover further trustworthy information? How will the family feel about sharing ‘dirty laundry’ in public? This leads to foundational methodological questions for a writer and PhD researcher. One solution is to fictionalise ‘the truth’ in an historical novel (acknowledging that the truth itself is a matter for negotiation). This paper presents an account of my methodological journey of narrative inquiry as a process for creative writing. The personal experience stories of a Woolloomooloo family and archival private and public records combine as powerful resources for historical fiction that ‘could almost be true.’


Parent Title

Minding the gap : writing across thresholds and fault lines papers – the refereed proceedings of the 19th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 30 November - 2 December 2014, Wellington NZ

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Wellington, New Zealand


Australian Association of Writing Programs

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Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Learning and Teaching Education Research Centre (LTERC); School of Education and the Arts (2013- );

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

Australasian Association of Writing Programs. Conference