There’s a lot of talk about fake news these days, as if it was something new. Well, to us historical novelists it is something we have been dealing with for ages. We write a mixture of fact and fiction, but we try to be clear in our own minds where one ends and the other begins. Most of us do, although, sadly, the original Geoffrey of Monmouth tended to be a bit careless in that respect. Many people appreciate my including a set of historical notes at the back of Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties, a practice I copied from Bernard Cornwell, and intend to retain.
Easter is associated with fake news, as I was reminded the other day. The authorities in Jesus’ day put out a story that his disciples had stolen the body, thus explaining the phenomenon of the empty tomb. You may have your own opinion as to what really happened, but that was certainly not it. If you had stolen the body, and therefore knew for a fact that Jesus was dead, would you have continued saying he had come back to life, when that claim could get you into hot water? Or into an arena full of lions?
Let’s expose all fake news, ancient or modern, for what it is as we continue to enjoy reading and writing fiction.
This Easter, if you do not choose to believe the four gospels, at least pick an alternative that is reasonably credible. Happy Easter!