Us fiction writers - we make stuff up. Sometimes we wallow in research for long enough to ground our made-up stuff in enough real-stuff to make it credible. And sometimes we just make it all up.
Readers know this. It's part of our contract with them - we do our best to make it believable and they do their best to suspect disbelief until the end of the book. But nobody really believes that David Copperfield or Anna Karenina or Middle Earth really existed.
Recently, it seems, some politicians have been taking a leaf or few out of our books. Here in the UK, the Leave campaign sprawled a slogan on the side of buses, insisting that they could give £350,000,000 a week to the NHS if we left the EU. And enough people suspended disbelief for long enough vote for it - though now the Leave leaders seem astonished that anyone might have taken them seriously. Across the pond, Donald Trump convinced voters that as soon as he was inaugurated as President of the US he would instigate criminal proceedings against Hillary Clinton - but now he's been elected this has been withdrawn. He claims, magnanimously, that he will give her time to heal.
Does this matter?
I would argue that it does. If it becomes acceptable for our politicians to abandon a semblance of truth - where will it end? Can teachers make up history, forgetting things like slavery or reframing it as 'development'? Or social scientist 'massage' the population figures, discounting anyone over eighty and thus meaning they have no need of social care? Let's not begin to think what the climatologists might come out with.
At times like this - times of great upheaval - we need clear thinkers. Men and women able and willing to cut through the claptrap and show us a truth. Men and women able and willing to stand up to the politicians and their wheeling and dealing.
Which will leave us fiction writers happily making stuff up, without worrying that anyone might actually believe us. Having said that, I think it's time Harry Potter challenged Trump to a game of Quiddich.