FICTION IS FLUFF.  OH, REALLY? By Radine Trees Nehring

wedding cover.inddI doubt that anyone reading here has ever said, “Oh, I only read non-fiction,” and–perhaps–accompanied the comment with a superior lift of nose?

But, if you’re an author of fiction who appears regularly in public as an author (book talks, signings, interviews, conferences, book clubs . . . ) then I bet it’s been said to you.  Unfortunately, those who say it have usually moved on toward their imagined superior reading sources before the lowly fiction author can offer other than a sputtered “pffft.”  For a number of years, one of the most telling replies I could think of has been, “Have you  read To Kill A Mockingbird, yet? And then, if the speaker hesitates, I smile in (I hope) a friendly manner.

Thing is, a many fiction novels subtly enlighten and change readers who would turn away a_portrait_to_die_for_rev_smfrom blatant instruction or information in non-fiction, especially if it’s on a subject they have already formed an opinion about. Readers, after all, come to fiction only for entertainment. Right?  But, as we all know (because Mary Poppins said so), “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”  Of course there are novels that do offer only entertainment. Whoa, wait a minute. How about getting inside the head of any person in trouble? Sympathy? Understanding? How about turning pages more quickly to see if that person finds answers and help?  How about seeing a way to repel the advances or threats of an unwelcome male, (or female) or to untangle aggressive cattle barons who want your land and its water rights? How about . . . well, you get the picture, and know you can feel sympathy and understanding while being entertained. (Shh, don’t let the secret out.)

river-coverIn my own case I realized recently that–though I do not outline plots–I always begin a novel or short story thinking about a typical human problem that needs solving. I also know that, through danger and darkness, a solution will come, and the solution will lead to the redemption of at least one character in that story. Family trauma and alienation, greed, selfish ambition, the nightmare of seeing and causing death in wartime or during civilian criminal action, or just a yearning to find a lost family member to share love with–I have written about these and much more, and also found in my own thoughts the way we humans (via the book people I create) will find answers and at least a measure of comfort and peace.

fordice-bathhouse-2On another level, my love for the Arkansas Ozarks and a strong desire to share this area with others got me into writing as a mature adult. Want to visit a special tourist attraction or event in Arkansas?  You can do so without leaving home or buying a tour guide by crescent-room-1reading my novels, since I describe each story location accurately “down to the last doorknob or wildflower.”  Stories and crimes are based on what is plausible in any of my real locations, and  history feeding into the present-day story is accurate as well.  No, it’s not an on-site vacation, but a chance to visit vicariously and exercise imagination while doing so. Our most important solutions to any problems we face are usually born within inspired thought, and what does fiction reading give us but acquaintance with what’s possible as we search for answers? An earlier guest on Motive, Means, Opportunity wrote “Fiction needs to change you.” I say amen to author Channing Whitaker and add:  “If we get involved in the story, it always does.”indian_rockhouse_cave

As an example of places to visit in Arkansas, I share here snapshots of three locations where a crime is seen and solved in one of my fiction stories. See if you can figure out a real-sounding crime for each place.  (Maybe reading a chapter from the named novel on my web site: will help.)

Brief bio and links for Radine Nehring

radinetreesnehringFor more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring’s magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine’s first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time, she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

Website URL:

Blog URL:

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Twitter:   @RTNehring


Buy link for Portrait to Die For



6 thoughts on “FICTION IS FLUFF.  OH, REALLY? By Radine Trees Nehring

  1. Wonderful post. In an off the grid way, the attitude is something of a compliment as it means that we’ve hidden our facts and research well. I’m in love with your covers, and can’t wait to dig into your books.The Ozarks are breathtaking. so glad you celebrate your beautiful home state. Thank you for visiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Naturally fiction can change the reader. It lets people visit situations they have not experienced and learn about other places, other ways of doing things, other ways of feeling. It entertains and teaches as Radine says. As Kait says above, if facts and research are well hidden they sneak up on the reader and can have a lot of clout. How many times do readers cry when they read stories that are fictional (but have large kernels of truth)? If the reader is me the answer is a lot. I cannot imagine why anyone would lift their nose regarding fiction with the many fascinating stories within reach. Being a snob is boring. Open the door of your mind and let some fresh air in. (or fetid depending on the story)


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll be looking for your books, Radine! I, too, like using places I’ve been as settings, though I cheat more than you do (anybody who knows the rest area West of Yuma on I-8 will know I transformed the building with porta-potties into restrooms with stalls in my newest novel). There’s a challenge in it for writers and readers alike.


  4. Wonderful post, Radine! Oft times there is more truth in fiction than fact. I’m a firm believer in that. I also love the Ozark region. Several years ago I seriously contemplated a move there. Ah, canoeing and camping down the Buffalo River–a long time dream that I’ve yet to fulfill, but not too late, yet!
    Thanks so much for gracing MMO with your post, and please know our welcome mat is always out for your return. 🙂


  5. Glad y’all understood my sharing. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Michael, so glad you could enjoy the Buffalo. A River to Die For is set largely from Rush Ghost Town Landing to Tyler Bend on the lower river. Also in an abandoned mine shaft and an unknown cave. Oh yes, a bluff shelter as well. Much history there as well as adventure and danger. By the way, all my novels are available from my web site if you don’t find elsewhere. Paypal or check, autographed if you like, and mailed postage paid anywhere in US. You can also write me


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