Thursday, November 3, 2011

'REALITY FICTION': Ripped-From-The-Headlines by Elizabeth Searle

Please welcome Elizabeth Searle to the blog.  She's a fantastic writer, a contributor to a new anthology from Other Voices Books, Men Undressed and the author of Girl Held In Home from New Rivers Press. Her voice is fresh and funny and satiric and somber.  Elizabeth Searle has it all -- and I'm thrilled to have her here.

REALITY FICTION': Ripped-From-The-Headlines by Elizabeth Searle

Headlines have always grabbed me-- and recently in my writing I have grabbed them back.  Following my Headline-happy heart , I have found new adventures and a new level of attention in the realm of what I call Reality Fiction.  
photo credit : Barry Weiss

Like it or not, 'reality' rules.  Reality TV leads in ratings and nonfiction titles lead in sales.  I have always loved news stories, especially scandalous ones.  As book columnist Jan Gardner noted in the Boston Globe-- tying together my stage work TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA and my newest novel-- I 'find inspiration in lurid crimes'.

And especially in the headlines which accompany the crimes.  I grew up on TV News: Walter Cronkite dined with my family every night.  I think in headlines.  The title of my new novel GIRL HELD IN HOME takes the form of a headline.  The libretto to my rock opera is filled with 'lurid' headlines-- 'Gillooly Colluded' and 'War Between the Skates!'--chanted by the chorus as they tell the tabloid tale of ice skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.  
photo credit: Mark Karlsberg

GIRL HELD IN HOME --out now from New Rivers Press-- was also inspired by a real crime.  In our own neighborhood in Arlington.MA, in 2001, a woman was ‘held’ as an unpaid servant’ in the home of a family that controlled her visa.  In my version of her story, a teenage boy discovers her situation and falls in love with the ‘GIRL HELD IN HOME’.  
In GIRL, I imagined my story based on a real incident.  In my libretto for TONYA & NANCY, I used the real stranger-than-fiction facts and real newspaper quotes from the 'characters'.  The show drew national media on Good Morning America, CBS, NPR and more.  I found myself interviewed on ESPN Hollywood (surely a first for a literary fiction writer!).  
GIRL HELD IN HOME, fresh off the presses, has drawn attention too from its ties to an all-too-real crime.  I've been given the chance to discuss on radio and elsewhere the shocking fact that many women facing immigration issues are 'held' in this way.
So for fellow fiction writers looking for a Reality Fix, you may need to look no further than the latest headline to grab you.  Grab it 'back' and you may find your resulting work making a few headlines of its own. 

Elizabeth Searle's new novel, GIRL HELD IN HOME, is based on a real crime and her stage show, TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA, which drew national media attention, is based on the Harding/Kerrigan skate scandal.  Elizabeth's previous books are A FOUR-SIDED BED, re-released in a new paperback version in 2011, CELEBRITIES IN DISGRACE (produced as a short film in 2010) and MY BODY TO YOU.  An excerpt from GIRL HELD IN HOME appears in the new anthology MEN UNDRESSED: WOMEN WRITERS ON MALE SEXUAL EXPERIENCE.