Shirley Barrett is an Australian film maker. She has written and directed three feature films (Love Serenade, Walk the Talk, South Solitary), and worked extensively as a director in television. Her first novel is Rush Oh!.
From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You write that Rush Oh! was based in part on a historical figure. As you wrote the novel, what did you see as the right blend of the historical and the fictional?--Marshal Zeringue
A: Rush Oh! is based on the true story of the killer whales of Eden, and I knew I wanted to write about that.
As I did more research, I found an incredible archive of local Eden newspapers dating back to the late 1800s, in which there would be highly detailed accounts of whale chases, often citing particular the particular killer whales involved by name.
Realising that in this blend of history and fiction that I was intending, readers might think I made up all the stuff about killer whales too, I decided it would be great to include some actual newspaper accounts of the time, for veracity.
The newspaper accounts often mentioned George "Fearless" Davidson, Master Whaler, so I decided ultimately that Mary, my narrator, would be George's fictional daughter, and in fact I created an entire new fictional family for him.
I figured that as long as I was open about what was real and what wasn't (I make it clear in the Author's Note), taking that kind of liberty was permissible.
I remember trying to find out about what legalities might stand in my way when it comes to fictionalizing real people's lives, and I read somewhere that there was nothing to stop you doing it - just don't expect those real people to like it.
George of course is long dead, but he has many proud descendants. I am not too sure what they think about the book - I guess they're...[read on]