Writing Books/legal issues


I knew a family whose every member except a young granddaughter died. The family was horribly dysfunctional and since they belonged to our ethnic club I know enough of their lives that I could write a fiction novel based on a true story. The novel would be similar to East of Eden. The story is even more emotionally charged than East of Eden.
I am just wondering how much chance is there that anyone will recognize the family I knew since all of the ones that were important and lived the dysfunctional lifestyle are already dead ?
I know I have to change names and places. It has to be in a grape growing country, because that was the business that family was involved in. What other details do you think would have to be changed ?
Yours truly Slavica

Hello Slavica,

As long as the names and place names have been changed, you should be safe. You also must remember that you cannot slander the deceased. People only have rights when they are living; after that, anything about them (even their true names) are free game. However, if you will be including the granddaughter in the story, you must obtain written permission to include her, unless you change her name, of course.

Include in the acknowledgments that some names and locations have been changed to preserve the identity of the individual(s).

I hope this makes sense. Good luck!


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Jamie Darrach


I can answer just about any question regarding the composition, editing, and publishing procedures for all forms of literature. I will give aspiring authors ample tips on how to strengthen plot, how make story-lines and characters credible, how to improve visual description and dialogue, and how to make works flow easily and naturally. In addition, I can give writers advice on how to adequately edit and revise their works. I have knowledge of the literary market, and can advise writers in which route would be best for their piece, including offer examples of presses and agents who work with manuscripts in the author's category.


I have been writing for eleven years, having completed fourteen novels, several short stories, and countless pieces of poetry. I am experienced in multiple genres. I have worked as a copy-editor and critic for aspiring authors. I have researched the literary market from inside-out, and can provide much information to writers who are seeking advice.

College for BA in English

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