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On Memory and Fiction: Part Five

(Read Part Four here.)

Steve Berry is the New York Times-bestselling author of modern-day thrillers that deal with history's mysteries. His research literally takes my breath away. His attention to detail creates a fictive coherence that is to be admired. Berry's newest, The Charlemagne Pursuit (December 2008), deals with an ancient civilization 13,000 years old, the ninth century CE, the time of Charlemagne, and present day.

MJR: Steve, how do you write so precisely and realistically about the past?

Berry: The simple answer is research, research, research. I suppose that means I rely on the recollections of others. How else would we ever know about the past except through the memories of those who experienced it? In my case, that comes from hundreds of primary and secondary sources, which I pore through one by one, searching for those precious few facts that will fit together to make a story. Without those recollections, properly memorialized and preserved, the past would truly be lost.

I'm not arrogant enough to say that my creativity is all that is at work here. Nor am I enough of a believer to say that a collective unconsciousness is at work.

I prefer to say that hard work and clear patience, weeding through the recorded memories of both participants and observers, eventually (at least in my situation) makes for a completed story.

÷ ÷ ÷

Visit M. J. Rose at her website ( or read her daily blog ( on reincarnation facts, philosophy, and curiosities. Her most recent novel, The Memorist, is an Indie Next pick.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Memorist
    Used Hardcover $2.75

M. J. Rose is the author of The Memorist

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