How Scout’s Honor Relates to my Life

by Dori Ann Dupré, author of Scout's Honor

Authors can’t help relating their own lives within the stories and messages of their fiction writing. In My Reading Life, legendary southern writer Pat Conroy famously said, “Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.” Writing is a way to explore the unresolved matters within oneself, and there is no better way to do that than with a fictional story or a novel.

The Scout’s Honor’s protagonist, Scout Webb, was a young girl much like me. She came of age in the 1980s, was raised by good parents in a Christian home in a small town and had a unique name. (There were no barrettes or keychains with “Dori” written on them either.) She was a tomboy, played on a boy’s baseball team and went to summer camp. I did those things, too. Some of the internal struggles and life-long issues of self-acceptance and even self-respect have been borne by this book’s author, just as these same battles reside in most young girls and even grown women throughout time. Scout’s particular troubles were nothing new. Girls everywhere, from all kinds of homes and towns, have been taken advantage of by older men in positions of trust throughout history. And as the Catholic Church’s veil of secrecy over the sexual abuse of boys by priests, our culture learned that boys were also suffering this same fate at the hands of those who were entrusted with their spiritual development and spiritual lives.

The old analogy of throwing a pebble into the water and watching the spread of ripples in every direction holds true. When a young person has his or her innocence taken, the ripples do not just stop with pebble’s initial splash. The pain doesn’t just end with the event itself. The aftershocks of such deep trauma go on indefinitely, affecting the victim in ways that are both seen and unseen, for years and even lifetimes.

Writing fiction is an exercise in working all of that out of the writer. Whether an author was a sexual abuse victim or grew up in poverty or went through rehab with a prescription drug addiction, making up realistic fictional stories are one healthy way to make sense of real life experience and traumatic events. A storyteller without some challenging battles waging within or with no history of such a thing, might not be the best kind of storyteller. It is difficult to write or tell a good fictional story when it comes from only a place of fiction, when there is no base of reality in which to build it.

Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” Scout’s Honor is a fictional story about a fictional girl surrounded by fictional people…in other words, a lie. And within every character, perspective, narrative, reflection, detail, there are snippets of truth related to my own life and the lives of the many people who have come in and out of it over the years. How can it not?