Using Real People as #Fictional #Characters – #ArtisticLicense and #TBT

Throwback Thursday to John F. Kennedy’s Presidency!  More on him a little later.

Artistic License

There is a fine line between real people as fictional characters adding an intriguing aspect to a novel versus causing it to crash and burn.  Artistic license needs to be applied with caution so readers do not expect a biography, but instead a fact-checked, interesting twist on the person.

My latest book is about a girl who can see spirits, and the school she attends has a faculty of famous dead people. On the one hand, the spirit version of the celebrity may be totally different than the living version of the person. I could make Abraham Lincoln an outgoing, busybody, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I attempted to write each character in the voice everyone knows, but I then add an exaggeration here and there. [insert coy devil smiley]

John F. Kennedy as a Teacher in Spirit Form

John F. Kennedy is one of the teachers at Vita Post Mortem Academy.  In real life, he was quoted on many topics, but I particularly like the way his quotes show his open-mindedness.  Whether this is true or not, the Kennedy that teaches American Ghost Stories (a version of social studies) at Vita Post Mortem Academy acts as an insightful role model.

The first time Jules Winklevoss (the main character) meets JFK, he quotes himself, “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask “why not?”

Later in the novel, he begins class with the following written on the board, “Ask not what your school can do for you. Ask what you can do for your school. –John F. Kennedy” It’s artistic license, but in the vein of the living person.

The John F. Kennedy in spirit form is charming, well-spoken, gives advice freely, smug, and a bit of a prankster. Close enough?  I think so.

I may have put words in his mouth he never would have said, but the details around his death and family were fact-checked down to the weather in Texas on the day he died.

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

Art, in all its forms, is an important ingredient to our lives. Since I spend my day buried in finance facts and figures, I use novel writing as an outlet to be creative. It clears my mind of trivial annoyances.


Check out the (after)life lessons pinterest page to see more quotes by John F. Kennedy.

Kindle Scout Campaign Update

Day 1 of the campaign to win a publishing contract at Amazon has been a success.  My book, The Light of Supremazia, #1 in the (after)life lessons series, was trending as “hot.”

Vote here: Kindle Scout Campaign for The Light of Supremazia

Author @alanasiegel quotes #JohnFKennedy “Art is a Form of Truth” Do you agree? #TBT see post here (Click to tweet)

Why is there a fine line when using real people as #fictional #characters ? Writer @alanasiegel has an opinion (Click to tweet)

Vote for @alanasiegel #KindleScout Campaign The Light of Supremazia here (Click to tweet)