The Reading Hack group at Runcorn Library read The Liar’s Handbook last month. They quizzed author Keren David on how she writes about real life.
How did you get the idea to write a fiction story based on true events?
I’ve been a journalist since I was a teenager, so it’s very natural for me to be following the news and thinking about current events. It was a natural progression from reporting and editing to move onto fiction inspired by real events.
Have you had any feedback from people who were affected by the original news story?
No I haven’t, although I would be very interested to hear their experience and opinion.
Would you like to write another book inspired by a true story?
I’m always going to find true stories inspiring and fascinating, so yes!
Have you ever protested against something?
I’ve tweeted and signed petitions and posted about things, but I’ve never been on a protest. I think it’s because of my background as a reporter. I feel as though I should be the neutral observer, most of the time, the person who stands back and reports the news rather than making it.
You can obviously make up great stories but are you a good liar?
I can be. I’m very good at keeping secrets, and sometimes that involves a little bit of truth-bending.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Sometimes they just attach themselves, and sometimes it’s really difficult. Mostly I try to think about when they were born and what their parents might be like. Sometimes I put out an appeal on Twitter for a character name – that’s why so many of my books have a character called Marcus, because one of my colleagues inevitably offers his name.
If you had to recommend a book to a teenage reading groups (other than The Liar’s Handbook, which was brill) what would it be?
Two books which are coming out later this year, but I was lucky enough to get advance copies. Street Song by Sheena Wilkinson about a musician making a new life for himself in Belfast. Sheena is one of my favourite writers, and this book gets you in the heart and the gut. And I absolutely loved Troublemakers by Catherine Barter, which comes out in June and is about Alena whose mother (like River’s) was also a political activist.
Have you ever known someone who could lie as imaginatively as River does?
The story about taking a helicopter to see the GP, that was invented by my son’s best friend. And I once had a boyfriend who appropriated some one else’s life story, presumably because he thought it was more impressive than his own. I found this out years after breaking up with him, when I met the guy whose story he’d stolen – and married him!
Was writing a book themed around true events different to writing a story that is totally yours to make up?
I’ve just written a book that was totally made up (Stranger, which is coming out in January 2018) and I’d say it was more difficult. And there is one event in it which is based on an actual historical event! So I can’t answer that question, because for me, the truth always sneaks in.