6 Graeme Macrae Burnet Quotes About Truth And Fiction
There's a strong chance that Scottish writer Graeme Macrae Burnet is about to win the Man Booker Prize. His novel, His Bloody Project, has already outsold every other book on the Man Booker shortlist — despite having a tiny initial print run of only 1,500 copies. Saraband, the small Glasgow-based publisher of His Bloody Project, has had to go back to press three times since then due to the phenomenal response to this novel.
His Bloody Project is about three brutal murders in 1860s Scotland — but it's not a crime novel or a murdery mystery. Instead, the murderer is revealed right from the start — a bit like '70s TV show Columbo, but a lot more gruesome. The book is made up of a compilation of witness statements, memoirs, and medical reports, and Macrae Burnet did a lot of research to make these documents seem as authentic as possible.
The novel blurs the lines between truth and fiction: although 'A Novel' is clearly printed on the front cover to avoid confusion, the main character does share Macrae Burnet's name, so you'd be forgiven for thinking His Bloody Project is a collection of genuine research into the author's ancestors. It's hardly surprising, then, that Macrae Burnet has some great words of wisdom to drop about truth, and how easy it is to bend.
1. "I subscribe to the view that it’s difficult to set down an objective truth about any event in the past, even the recent past. A couple weeks ago I was out with some people, and there was a bit of an argument at the end of the evening. If everybody involved in the argument had gone away and written down their account of what had happened, it would be difficult to know which was true. None of them would be wholly true."
— Graeme Macrae Burnet in The Wall Street Journal
2. “One man can no more see into the mind of another than he can see inside a stone.”
— Graeme Macrae Burnet, His Bloody Project
Macrae Burnet also has a lot to say about his writing process, which aspiring novelists may well want to pay attention to!
3. "Like most writers I’m a dreadful procrastinator, so I usually go to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow to get away from the distractions of home."
— Graeme Macrae Burnet in The Irish Times
4. "Until I published my first book I thought I was completely normal."
— Graeme Macrae Burnet in The Irish Times, in response to the question, "What has being a writer taught you?"
5. "The book is now going out into the world, but when you're writing the book you have no thought of that and I don't think you should have any thought of that. All you're trying to do is create your characters in the most vivid, authentic way possible."
— Graeme Macrae Burnet in AFP
6. "I’m a pig-headed individual and I don’t want to be told what to do. I found my own way to get where I am."
— Graeme Macrae Burnet in The Scotsman , on why he doesn't take creative writing classes