I was going through a few blogs today and saw that a blogger I follow was posting about a novella that’s based on real life. This is what’s called Roman a Clef.
Wiki says this about Roman a Clef:
Roman à clef or roman à clé (French pronunciation: [ʁɔmɑ̃n‿a kle]), French for “novel with a key”, is a phrase used to describe a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the “key” is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. This “key” may be produced separately by the author, or inferred through the use of epigraphs or other literary devices.
And you can read more about it here…
But what I’d like to know is why we don’t see more around these days. I see a lot of memoir and non-fiction. But I rarely see Roman a Clef, and it’s something I love. I rarely even see the term used. I often wonder if a lot of the fiction I read is really Roman a Clef and the author didn’t bother to mention it up front. But that would be speculation and I try not to do that.
I also read a lot of celebrity bios that are considered non-fiction, and I have a feeling a lot of the content is actually fiction. But that would be speculation, too. I’m finishing up the Steve Jobs bio and I’ll post about it soon.
The reason I’ve never done a Roman a Clef is because I’ve always focused hard on fiction, especially with respect to character development. That’s not to say that I don’t draw from my own personal experiences as a gay man. But I rarely ever draw from one particular experience or person I’ve known. My characters and stories are more like puzzles, in the sense where I take small pieces of everything I’ve experienced, put them together, and create something/someone that’s never existed before. But I would like to try my hand at Roman a Clef…as long as I don’t get sued.