I was drawn to write Guns of November by the opportunity to look at the JFK Assassination from a historical fiction viewpoint. Facts keep the story rooted in reality, with an occasional observation snuck in for the author.
Fiction allows the writer and the reader (it is hoped) to dust off the history of an incident, shake it up, and in so doing become a part of history through the characters – experiencing the emotions and tumult of the time. The writer of historical fiction uses a broader brush and more colorful palette to paint his canvas, giving a different light to staid black and white facts while still coloring inside the lines of history. The experience of bringing facts to life from a different perspective is what makes historical fiction so exciting for me – telling a story as it happened, but using poetic license to do so.
By using fictional characters to tell a factual story, I believe the author can give the reader a wider understanding of the factual personage and their motives. In the case of the JFK assassination, an event that still resonates today, I was forced to address many issues…Did Oswald act alone? Did Oswald even fire a rifle? Where did Jack Ruby suddenly come into being from waiting the wings of obscurity? Was Ruby a concerned citizen or a Mafia pawn? Why did Ruby take the actions he did – to Jackie Kennedy from testifying as he'd said, or were there other, more sinister motives at hand?
Even when someone writes what is accepted historical fact, there is always a basis of opinion behind it. In writing historical fiction, a la Gore Vidal's, Lincoln, we are able to understand Lincoln in a clearer sense behind the dusty, one-dimensional figure of the history text books we read in school. Fiction, rather than fact, brings a person to life. Non-fiction, newspaper, and TV news are questionably accurate because, in the end, they are basically approved objective opinion that goes from copy to print.
Historical fiction works because it brings the reader into the character's lives through a broader respect. Characters in fiction do things factual characters do, but without the real world context. A person reading a news story probably isn’t concerned if a real-life figure had breakfast or not unless it mattered to the timeline of the news article. Conversely, in fiction, breakfast may lead readers around the corner to a whole slew of clues.
Through historical fiction, a reader can find closure on the gaping holes of an historical event – why Oswald left his wedding ring at home, or why he left the School Book Depository after the shooting. In reality, we are never truly able to sort through the conflicting suppositions of approved opinion. In fiction, we find closure as the author moves the story forward fitting the pieces to give us a whole new slant on the puzzle – one in which the pieces actually fit.
In telling Guns of November, there may be readers who disagree with the avenues to which I've directed the story. It is up to them to base their conclusions on who, what, where and why. It is my job to write a story. While this story is not the truth, it has been based on truths and I've done my best to tell it. I would wager to say it’s closer to the truth than the final fiction we've been told is truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pushcart Prize nominee, Joseph Grant is also the author of Fight Card: The Last Round of Archie Mannis. His short stories have been published in over 235 literary reviews such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Underground Voices, Midwest Literary Magazine, Inwood Indiana Literary Review, Hack Writers, Six Sentences, Literary Mary, NexGenPulp, Is This Reality Zine, Darkest Before Dawn, strangeroad.com, FarAway Journal, Full of Crow, Heroin Love Songs, Bewildering Stories, Writing Raw, Unheard Magazine, and Absent Willow Literary Review.
FIGHT CARD: THE GUNS OF NOVEMBER
November, 1963...Sent to Dallas by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to investigate the disappearance of a boxer connected to a major Civil Rights violation, FBI Special Agent Jim Gregory finds himself desperately trading punches with those plotting to change the course of history.
Kidnapped, beaten, tied up, and blindfolded, young boxer Jimmy Lee Williams knows his situation is dire. Nicknamed Guns for the relentless firing power of his fists, Williams isn’t going to go down without a fight. However, this is no typical 15-rounder...and the clock is ticking toward disaster.
Mixing with a disparate group of Cuban exiles, the Mafia, the FBI, the CIA, and corrupt Dallas Police, Gregory’s search for Williams takes him into the heart of the JFK conspiracy. In the Carousel Club, owner Jack Ruby – Gregory's old Chicago boxing opponent – introduces the undercover FBI agent to his many shady contacts, including a young, ex-Marine and Communist defector named Oswald…a man with unusual intelligence and connections to both the FBI and the CIA.
With disaster looming, the latest Fight Card novel, Guns of November, is a two-fisted take on the tragic events you thought you knew, but never imagined...