I am honored to be a member of the Tall Poppy Writers www.tallpoppies.org, a group of very talented authors. Today, I am featuring Diane Haeger, historical novelist. Also writing under the name Anne Girard, her latest book, PLATINUM DOLL, is about the tumultuous life of movie icon Jean Harlow.
I loved reading about the real life of the people glittering during the Golden Age of Hollywood–and seeing behind the facade.
Here is Diane, answering the one question she would like to be asked in an interview.
The one question I wish someone would ask: “Wouldn’t it be easier, and give you more freedom as an author, not to write about real historical characters?”
(Diane Haeger/Anne Girard)
It might be less complicated, and less restrictive, to write straight fiction that much is true. There is a whole lot more creative leeway in building a story, fleshing out characters, and creating the conflict, when you don’t have that one pesky little hindrance called ‘facts’ to stand in your way. I’ve published four full-fiction novels, so I know that it’s true. But I’ve never been an author that craved simple—and in my 25 year career, I have sure never found it! For me, it really has been the proverbial ‘long and winding road’. That said, I’ve enjoyed (almost) every minute of my long and often crazy career.
They might not be easier to write, and it takes so much research, but I am so passionate about telling those stories about real characters from history that it doesn’t matter. One of the best things is often being able to be a champion for misunderstood historical figures, from Diane de Poitiers in France to William Tecumseh Sherman in the South, it’s my goal to offer readers a deeper understanding of what might have been going on than what a cursory glance at Wikipedia or a biography would offer.
Case in point was the main character in my last novel, Madame Picasso. It was definitely a challenge to take on macho, womanizing Pablo Picasso and attempt to show the young and tender man beneath—one yet on the cusp of worldwide fame, who was devoted to his great supporter and love, Eva Gouel. There was a surprising amount of creativity in attempting that. During the process, I was given the great honor of interviewing one of Picasso’s last living friends in Provence. What a thrill! Lucien Clergue had been a devoted friend who told me tale after tale of the gentler man—a generous man who steadfastly refused to answer the charges, many from ex-mistresses that were made against him—charges that only perpetuated the stereotype and did not permit balance.
Delving into the often messy lives of these real characters from history is not only a challenge, it’s a true privilege. In spite of the structure required, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those are the stories that continue to lure me. ***