Night Radio adds a unique and valuable dimension to today’s literary fiction by combining a gripping plot with a deep character study and a haunting, thought-provoking narrative. ~ Renee James, Windy City Reviews
- Title: Night Radio
- Author: David W. Berner
- Genre: Pop Fiction
- Length: 351 pages
- Publisher: Cawing Crow Press
- Publication Date: May 25, 2016
Using Real Life to Write Fiction
By David W. Berner
There’s a bit of a wild scene in the opening chapter of Night Radio, my new novel that invariably begs this question: did that really happen? My answer is always the same. Sort of.
I have written three memoirs. I am a journalist. I tend to tell the truth, or at least my version of it. But writing fiction—making things up—was not a stretch for me, as some might believe. Ernest Hemingway took from his life to build his novels. Yes, he did go to Pamplona, Spain to see the bulls run many times, and yes he was wounded in war, and yes he went deep sea fishing, and yes the Old Man and the Sea was based on a real man. Of course, Hemingway is not the first to create fiction from real life, he is not the last, but he may have been the best at it. I’m certainly not comparing myself to Hemingway, but as the current writer-in-residence at the Hemingway birthplace home in Oak Park, Illinois, I can say that there’s a spiritual and writerly connection to this concept.
It is fiction, yes, but it’s based on experience. Many scenes in my novel are embellishments or adjustments to true experiences. Are they exact? No. Are they truth? Absolutely not. But to tell a story and to tell it with authenticity, I believe a writer must, as Hemingway said, write “one true sentence” and “leave out the ornamentation.” Why not steal from real life? Life is interesting. A writer doesn’t need to make up stories from nothing. Why should he? There are wonderful stories all around us. What the writer must do is make the real stories “his”…make them “hers.” It comes down to experience. What have you done, seen, felt in real life? Use that experiential truth and build on it to create your fictional truth. And by doing this, your fiction is more real, honest, more relevant, more genuine, and the reader has a better truer experience with your work.
There’s one other scene in Night Radio that again begs that question: did it really happen? It’s a party inside a college radio station, there is tequila and flirtation, and hormones, and well, you get the picture. And again, I always respond in the same way I have before. Sort of.
It’s a true answer, and yes, it also leaves a little to the imagination. And that—dear reader—is a very good thing.
Night Radio: A Love Story
From the award-winning author of Any Road Will Take You There and Accidental Lessons comes a truly American story.
Jake Mulholland dreams of becoming the next great rock ‘n’ roll radio personality. But like his father, his appetite for love conflicts with his thirst for success, leading to an unforgivable mistake. Jake finds fame but also the excess of celebrity, and just as he begins to rediscover his authentic self, he’s shaken by the news of a life-altering secret. In an effort for redemption, Jake plans a special New Year’s Eve broadcast that will be the biggest challenge of his life.
Night Radio is a love letter to music and rock ‘n’ roll radio of the 1970s, the story of an American boy, an American family, and of dreams just out of our reach.
About the Author
David W. Berner is the award-winning author of three memoirs: ACCIDENTAL LESSONS, ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE, and THERE’S A HAMSTER IN THE DASHBOARD.
NIGHT RADIO: A Love Story is his first novel. Windy City Reviews calls NIGHT RADIO a “unique and valuable dimension to today’s literary fiction by combining a gripping plot with a deep character study and a haunting, thought-provoking narrative.”
Contact The Author
David works as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and teaches writing and radio documentary at Columbia College Chicago. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a “beautiful, elegantly written book” by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy. ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE—a 2013 Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association—is the author’s story of a cross-country road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called “heartwarming and heartbreaking” and “a five-star wonderful read.” THERE’S A HAMSTER IN THE DASHBOARD, a collection of essays, was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Chicago Book Review.