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On Memory and Fiction: Part Four

(Read Part Three here.)

David Hewson writes contemporary suspense novels featuring an Italian detective named Nic Costa. His newest is The Garden of Evil, which references the work of Dante and 1950s San Francisco. I've been reading David's work since he was first published in the U.S. and have always been amazed by how he uses the past to inform the themes of the current day story he's telling.

MJR: How do you delve into a historical past you cannot yourself remember — yet you somehow manage to write about so well?

Hewson: I choose a few selected items to create a concrete image of the place, then build the rest from imagination.

MJR: Do you spend a lot of effort on being accurate? I find that I can get very caught up in details and waste hours trying to find out something that in the end I realize no one alive now could ever know.

Hewson: While I try to be "accurate" as much as possible (mainly because it would be lazy to be inaccurate when the sources are out there), I don't see veracity as important in itself. What matters is the subjective truth of the historical world to the reader. An unreal world that feels right is much better than a technically accurate one that feels made up.

MJR: Do you believe in the collective unconscious? Do you give it any credence in how you're able to tap into the past you write so realistically?

Hewson: I don't believe or disbelieve. Since it's incapable of proof either way, it seems to me a circular argument. For some reason, ever since I was a kid I've been obsessed with Roman history. I've always assumed this is because among the books I grew up with there was a lot of stuff about classical civilizations. I don't feel I'm remembering something when I write about history. To me, this is fiction told with a twist.

(Read Part Five here.)

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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
  2. The Garden of Evil Used Hardcover $2.75

M. J. Rose is the author of The Memorist

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