Writers have been ... for ... to seek out the truth, the ... the ... and the tiniest of details when they decide to write a ... of any person, present or past. It is
Writers have been challenged for generations to seek out the truth, the oddities, the falsehoods, and the tiniest of details when they decide to write a biography of any person, present or past.
It is not the well-known facts that will sell copies; however,it is the little known, the hidden skeletons, and the gossip-type notes that prompt people to pick up a book about someone's life and read it. This, in itself, is neither good nor bad. This point, however, walks a very narrow road before it becomes the author's perspective or interpretation, and not that of the subject person, and thereby risks falling into the valley of pure fantasy. This is especially a danger when writing about someone no longer with us physically, such as historical figures. Hearsay has its place and at times is essential in understanding, but it should come from those intimately or closely in association with your chosen individual, and not from those who gained their knowledge from uncertain origin or pure speculation.
Humans enjoy finding out how others live, how they make their decisions, and what they felt when confronted with ordinary events. There should be a touch of glamour, a bit of intrigue, and humor all rolled up into a life story of just another person born under different circumstances, given different opportunities, and with a variety of influences, connections, and, oh yes, hopes and dreams.
Biographies are read to fulfill the human need to "know" what others are doing, thinking, and how they spend their time, talent, and monetary means. People want to learn, compare, gloat, or gain spiritual insight into how they can combat a future full of uncertainties, mystery, heartache, and fulfillment. We are all complex - and as the years advance this complex nature deepens and widens so that with research and searching out the best information we have access to,we can survive and grow. Also, there is the innate urge to pass on ideas, solutions, and suggestions. The next generation should at least have a head start on problem solving, and combating the ghosts from the past while meeting the angels of the future.
If, as a writer, you decide to try your hand at a biography, there is only one key word, one mantra, one road to follow - and that is research. Research in the form of reading, interviewing, asking questions at old haunts and favorite places is a concrete base to work from.
It is eating in the same cafe, walking the same path, and placing yourself along the same riverbank to get the "feeling" of what your subject saw and why that vision may or may not have had a profound effect. While no author can keep their own emotions, their own personality out of their writing, the urge to transpose your individuality into a segment will only take away from that of the subject individual. Your goal is to gain insight into where to hunt, who to track down, and to answer the question of "why."
While all lives protect their right to privacy, any invastion of this right should always be done discreetly and with only the highest intentions. We are all gathered on the same planet we call home.