Is it safe to include names of mafia organizations in your fiction or will they read your work and come after you?

  • 1
    Welcome to Writing.SE Gregor. Your question really needs more context. Is it a historical novel that is set in actual places? Or a modern novel in a real-life setting? What makes you think you'd be in danger? And what steps have you taken to make sure you haven't libeled anyone? (most people "come after" other people with cease and desist letters and then lawsuits.) – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 19 '19 at 17:20
  • The novel is set in modern day Rome and deals with art that was stolen by the Sicilian mafia. In the novel they are made out to be a bit lazy and bumbling so I'm wondering if this portrayal will anger anyone connected to the real life mafia. – Gregor Feb 19 '19 at 17:26
  • 2
    Welcome to Writing.SE Gregor. To expand on Cyn's comment, you could read about Italian writer Roberto Saviano and the threats he received: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – NofP Feb 19 '19 at 17:26
  • @NofP Interesting link. Though that author directly took on the mafia, so it's a different situation. I'd say it's generally a bad idea to use real people in a novel when it's not necessary. Change the names and you should be fine. – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 19 '19 at 17:29
  • 1
    Could you change the names and so it wouldn't matter? The story would be the same but no one could take offence. – S. Mitchell Feb 19 '19 at 17:34

Will they come after you? Very unlikely, but not impossible.

It's my reader who bothers criminal organizations, it's not me. My reader is what they don't want. The fact that, in this moment, we are talking about it, that all the newspapers talked about it, that books continue to be published, and that documentaries continue to come out is what they don't want; they don't want attention on themselves, on their names, and, above all, on their businesses.

Roberto Saviano on his book Gomorrah

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Saviano#Gomorrah

Roberto Saviano writes fiction about existing mafia clans, about their criminal activities, and uses real names and real places. In addition, he has made numerous public statements against mafia.

If you don't feel the moral strength to follow his path, then keep it generic. You can refer to mafia naming conventions, but try to not use real facts or actual people names in your fiction.

  • Good advice, thank you. Real names are not important to the story so I can change them and as you say, keep them generic. – Gregor Feb 19 '19 at 17:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.