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Question
Hello.
I have what I consider a very exciting horror/ghost story.  I have already started the research process for my novel. But here is my dilemma.  The story centers around the one hundred and fifty two year anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  The main characters are reenactors that are traveling to Gettysburg for three days of battle reenactment.  There is a real Gettysburg reenactment each year at Gettysburg and it is sponsored and run by the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee. Several major events  and places that the Committee sponsor have to change in my novel for my work to have credibility.  I could manage to get through the book with out actually mentioning the organizing committee, but thousands of people that attend these events each year would be well aware of who I was talking about. Not to mention the Committee itself. The committee sponsors other events during reenactment days including Living history village, a Sutler Village, and live fire demonstrations.  It is imperative that these events be part of the novel.  So my question is this.  Can I write about the Anniversary Committee and how it sponsors the events if the time frame of the novel is four years in the future, and those sponsored events and places are changed to fit my novel?  I have written the committee a letter asking these same questions but I have yet to send it.  Do I even need to ask them?  I know I cannot write a novel using the real name of my next door neighbor, but is talking in generalities about a real organization and event and incorporating fiction something I can do?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Answer
Gary:

Yes, absolutely.  There is no issue whatsoever with mentioning the Anniversary Committee by name and even explaining what it does.  

As for credibility... you say your novel is set 4 years in the future.  Truth is, by the time you get it finished and it is published (if that should happen), the 152nd anniversary of Gettysburg will likely be in the PAST.  Given that fact, changing the locations of sponsored events might make the credibility suffer among those intimately familiar with the reenactments.  Just food for thought.  

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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