The Auto-Novel

Image of three book covers with graphic-novel style covers, a trilogy by Julian Grant called Hollyweird North

The auto-novel is a fictionalized autobiography. It’s a genre that’s been around awhile with novels such as:

  • Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
  • Aldous Huxley’s Eyeless in Gaza
  • Charles Bukowski’s Post Office
  • Anaias Nin’s published diaries
  • William S. Burroughs’ (with Kerouac) And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Authors mix fact and fiction into a hybridized novel with verisimilitude.

And now Julian Grant has written an auto-novel trilogy about his film producer days in Hollywood North (Canada), or “Hollyweird North.” He calls these memoirs his murder memoirs. (Not joking about the murder part!) (Or the drugs/gangs/drinking parts!)

I wouldn’t say Grant’s trilogy is horror, but it’s certainly horror-adjacent with its fast, furious, and (beeped) events. I highly recommend all three books for an eye-opening and shocking experience:

Grant’s books are available on Kindle Unlimited. The trilogy is available as a set, too.

And in other news, I’ve been working on my own writing skills. (I suppose every author strives for lifelong improvement.) I’m halfway through Several Short Sentences about Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. What a strange but helpful book. One of the exercises: Ignore paragraphs and hit RETURN after each sentence. That way you can more easily compare your sentence structure and lengths to see if you have enough variety.

Happy Spring!

65 thoughts on “The Auto-Novel

  1. I took a look at Several Short Sentences about Writing on Amazon. This bit sounds good to me:

    “There is no gospel, no orthodoxy, no dogma in this book. What you’ll find here isn’t the way to write. Instead, you’ll find a way to clear your mind of illusions about writing and discover how you write.” I’m getting a little weary of self-proclaimed writing experts tell me what verbs I can and can’t use in fiction.

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  2. What wonderful company to be included with. The ‘auto-novel’ is such a fun form to work in. You can cut and paste and expand as an unreliable narrator – and as long as the verisimilitude is correct (the appearance of truth), all might be happily digested. Thank you. ❤️

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      1. And thank you for the note on
        Verlyn Klinkenborg’s work. What a fascinating teacher. I’ve already ordered ‘Several Short Sentences…’ and am looking forward to more. Allow me to recommend Toby Barlow’s work, Sharp Teeth: A Novel

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is the first time I hear of the Auto-novel genre. I’ve always thought of biographies / memoirs as entirely true stories and novels as entirely made up. It sounds like an interesting genre and Julian Grant’s trilogy sounds intriguing.

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  4. I love Anaïs Nin diaries and happy to see you mention this famous “style muse” as she is called today. She was an underground author in her youth and didn’t really make it until she was in her fifties and sixties. Goes to show how persistent writers have to be. Priscilla, I love “Ignore paragraphs and hit RETURN after each sentence. That way you can more easily compare your sentence structure and lengths to see if you have enough variety.” What a great trick to unpack your prose in the revision stages. I’ve got to read Kinkenborg’s book now. You’ve inspired me!

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    1. Hi Grant! I didn’t know Julian Grant’s trilogy was based on real events until I was about halfway through the first book. I kept thinking, “Gosh, he writes like this is all real!” Haha! Thanks for commenting.:-)

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  5. Fascinating, Priscilla. I’m not the greatest at identifying genres, but I’d never heard of Auto-Novel until your post. That said, I certainly relate to the approach. Thank you for this eye-opening post! 😊

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    1. Hi Gwen! I was halfway through the first book of Grant’s trilogy before I learned it was based on true events, and then I learned the “auto-novel” term. Thanks for commenting.:-)


  6. I had never heard of the term auto-novel before, Priscilla. I am with you on the constant upgrading of our writing skills and will have a look at Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book. A good tip you shared about sentence structure. On a similar theme, I am reading a book by Brian Dillon titled, Suppose A Sentence. It’s a series of essays, from the author’s viewpoint, prompted by a single sentence from his favourite pieces of literature. He offers some interesting thoughts on writing style, voice, language, and a perspective for readers. A happy Spring to you.

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