I recently reviewed a fascinating collection of essays called Quotidiana, written by author and BYU professor Patrick Madden. Such an interesting conversation with Pat ensued in the comments that I thought it would be a great idea to invite him back and interview him on the topic. Here at Segullah, we’re particularly interested in the creation and appreciation of good essays, so thank you, Pat, for offering your wisdom on the subject.
First, let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of some of the terminology we’ll be using. What is creative nonfiction?
I’m not sure it’s possible to be very clear on terminology, or, I suspect that the only people who are clear on such things are those who don’t know very much (Socrates: “I know only one thing, namely, that I know nothing”). Nevertheless, a simple, utilitarian definition of creative nonfiction is “literature derived from real events.” The term is a bit unwieldy, but it does serve to distinguish prose that’s made up from prose that’s true to reality.