Turning Fact Into Fiction
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The thesis, a novel titled Moving Forward, came about in response to my desire to examine the emotional experiences that seemed common among caregivers looking after their loved ones over protracted time frames. The novel tracks the lives of the protagonist Sean Barker and his disabled wife Caro, as they come in to terms with the catastrophic fallout resulting from her traumatic brain injury sustained in a helicopter crash. The novel attempts to investigate their emotional journey as they move through various stages of recovery. The exegesis, titled Turning Fact into Fiction, explores two main areas of research. Firstly, the documented recovery stages of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) patient, and the documented recovery stages of a carer of a TBI patient. And secondly, the processes I undertook to transform factual material into a fictional novel. The exegesis considers the challenges faced in adapting and dramatising source material in an authentic manner in order to create an output that holds the attention of a fiction reader. In the research phase, I interviewed more than twenty family members, friends and support professionals associated with the factual events. That output was then transcribed into a factual chronological record of the lives of the real participants. The next task was to adapt that source material into an authentic fictional rendering of events in a manner that reflected universal emotional truth in the characters. Throughout the project I trod a fine line between balancing the emotional journeys of my fictional characters, and being true and respectful to the experiences of the interview participants. I believe I have treated all my people, both real and imagined, with dignity.