When is Fiction Not Fiction

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by Charlotte Snead

His Brother’s Wife, published in October 2012 by Oak Tara, springs from the heart of one who has walked the halls of Walter Reed and seen our brave warriors. The dry places where they fought are only one battlefield. The daily war for month after month, even year after year, to regain their ability to walk, to function, to be husbands and fathers again, is a longer struggle, and a more painful one. I held the elevator for them, thanked them for their service, and looked into their eyes and saw the pride, the determination. Lot Sixty is a real place at Arlington National Cemetery, and too many of my son’s fallen comrades lie there. God rest their souls.

My father was a career officer, my son is a career officer, and our first daughter was five months old when my husband returned from Viet Nam. The novel is fiction, the emotions are not-they are all too real. Angie Carter is not a “real” person, but she walks the halls of every military rehabilitation hospital in the country.

After writing my first novel, people would come up to me and ask, “How is Missy doing. Did she ever marry? Did she ever see the baby she gave up for adoption? Was she happy?” And they were shocked when I told them she was a figment of my imagination-how could she be? They loved her. My upcoming four-book series starts where my first book left off and picks up her story. Those who love Missy will be happy to see her a wife and mother, a successful business woman, and her father back home, “Recovered and Free,” to quote the title of a song her brother wrote to proclaim God’s work in his father and himself, which is the title of the first book in the upcoming series. Her growth as a Christian musician continues throughout the series.

When fans want more of my characters and talk about them like they are old friends, that means they are believable creations. And it was a reader who told me she wanted more about Angie and Jonathan’s twin daughters that started the wheels churning for a sequel to His Brother’s Wife, Invisible Wounds, which shines the spotlight on those who face PTSD and the power of the love of families who suffer with them.

Realistic fiction springs from life experiences. Having worked in pregnancy care since 1966 when I was a young social worker with a children’s agency in New Orleans, and later in the Central West Virginia Center for Pregnancy Care, founded in 1985, I know these girls. No, Missy isn’t a “real” person, nor are the girls at Hope House, but the conversations are-real girls facing similar situations: rape, abuse, rejection, careless boyfriends, and angry, disappointed, and heartbroken parents. The adoptive parents, eager, fearful, incredibly blessed, are also composites of those encountered in this ministry.

Fiction? Yes. True? Yes. You decide.

Charlotte SneadCharlotte Snead graduated from Duke university and earned a Masters in Social Work at the University of North Carolina. A social worker, wife, mother (of 5,+ foster teenagers), and mentor for a Mothers of Preschoolers group, she is a keen observer of people. Her Oak Tara editor calls her work “edgy.”

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