Editing truth in non-fiction and fiction


This month, social psychologist and writer Hugh Mackay AO will be addressing these questions in his talk:

How do we define social truth? Is it presented differently in works of non-fiction versus works of fiction? What is the editor’s role when working with authors navigating pathways of truth?

You can attend either in person or via a Zoom webinar. To register to attend in person visit this Trybooking page. Registering helps us with catering, but isn’t essential.

Date: Wednesday 31 May 2023
Time: 5.45 pm (on site), 6.30 pm (webinar)
Dinner to follow at La Capanna, Kingston at 8pm.
Further details below.

(For details of upcoming meetings, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

About the presentation

In this presentation, Hugh Mackay will discuss his works of non-fiction and fiction, and the fascinating interactions he’s had with some of his editors in portraying his perceptions of truth. In describing his presentation Hugh says:

“In one of literature’s nastiest insults, Somerset Maugham said of Henry James: ‘He did not live, he observed life from a window and too often was inclined to content himself with no more than what his friends told him they saw when they looked out of a window. But what can you know of life unless you have lived it?

“That defines the nightmare of the social researcher – have I grasped what’s really going on, or taken at face value what other people tell me?

“But it’s not the novelist’s nightmare – and in our session on 31 May I want to discuss the difference between the ‘second-hand facts’ I report in my research and ‘the truth’ that comes directly out of my own imagination.

“I’ll also be talking about the role of fiction and non-fiction in my writing life – not as different as you might think. Good editors have often saved me from public humiliation but I’m intrigued by the huge difference in the way they have approached my fiction and non-fiction.”

Hugh will also talk about his research for his writing and share some insights with us from his recently released novel, The Therapist.

About Hugh

Hugh Mackay is a social psychologist and the bestselling author of 23 books, including nine novels. His latest novel, The Therapist, was published in March, and his most recent non-fiction book, The Kindness Revolution, in 2021.

Hugh Mackay

He has had a 60-year career in social research and was also a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years. Hugh is currently an honorary professor in the Research School of Psychology at ANU, and a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Among other honorary appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, the inaugural chairman of the ACT Government’s Community Inclusion Board and an honorary professor at Macquarie, Wollongong and Charles Sturt universities.

To attend in person

Please register on this Trybooking page if you wish to attend in person.


The Durie Room
St Mark’s National Theological Centre
15 Blackall St (not Blackall Place)
See MAP.


The room opens at 5:45 pm. The presentation begins at 6:30 pm.

Need to cancel?

Return your ticket directly into the TryBooking system to make it available for someone else.


Would you like to dine at La Capanna in Kingston at 8 pm after the meeting? If you’d like to join us, please REGISTER by 3pm, Wednesday 31 May, so that we can finalise bookings.

To attend the webinar (via Zoom)

A link for the Zoom meeting will be supplied to all members by email. If you are not a member and wish to attend by Zoom, please send an email to the contact email address you will find on the About page and ask to be sent a link. Please do not pass on your link to other people.

The webinar audience can use Zoom’s Q&A functionality to ask questions or offer opinions. (You will not be able to see the presentation or participate in the Q&A if you attend by phone call.)

The webinar will not be recorded.

Other General Meetings this year

28 June

Stephanie Owen Reader

Stephanie is both a well-published author of children’s literature and an editor. (Topic to follow.)

%d bloggers like this: