Adventures With Words

In which much reading and writing is meant to be done…

Editorializing on Books #1: Novels About Living People

Hello & welcome to a thing I’m going try… try to do in a more formal way, in any case, since what is a blog but a place for opinions and editorializing. Anyway, I’ve tried this before and failed so this time I’m not setting a frequency goal or a schedule. When I have something to say, I’ll say it. And pat myself on the back for it. Maybe dare to dream that it’ll prod you to share your thoughts, in agreement or disagreement but always civilized please, on the matter.

On to the first topic of discussion, which you can probably tell by the title of this post is… novels about living people.

I keep seeing publicity on Twitter and Instagram for a novel called All the Queen’s Men. We’re not going to be tagging the author or even the publisher because we’re not about shaming or spotlighting negatively because we have opinions. If you want to know because you want to read it, remember that Google exists. (And I’ll quit saying ‘we’ like I am a queen.)

In short, All the Queen’s Men is a murder mystery novel about Queen Elizabeth II who, according to summaries I’ve seen, finds someone murdered at Buckingham Palace and sets out to to solve it. As the ninety-something queen she now is. It’s apparently the second novel in a series.

My editorializing today is not solely related to Queen Elizabeth II. I would have an issue with any novel written about a living person. It seems… kind of strange to want to write a book and think of a real, living person for a main character. I’ve been in the fanfiction world, I’ve seen so-called ‘real person fiction (RPF)’ and it’s pretty taboo (and even banned by FanFiction.Net) because of the strange, disturbing places it can go. Obviously, this novel I saw the ads for is published by a major publisher so I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt that it’s no super obsessive stalker erotica, like some RPF can be, but I’m still uneasy about the ethics of the whole idea.

An even stronger limb to go out on would be that Queen Elizabeth II did not give consent to this, and consent seems like it should be an important factor whenever someone submits a manuscript involving a real, living person.

I have to believe that authors worthy of that title could come with something more original and creative than stealing someone’s name and making their life something else entirely. And this is especially true if the author makes it known that their subject-slash-main character is someone they admire. Do you really admire someone if you’re making money off fictionalizing their life?

I could go on, but I won’t. Where do you stand on the ethics of novels about living people? Leave a comment and let me know!

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About Me

An English diarist and naval administrator. I served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament. I had no maritime experience, but I rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, diligence, and my talent for administration.


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