Using the Names of Real Organizations in Your Fiction

: What is the consensus of whether to use “real names” in a fiction novel? For example, my book is about a terrorist organization, very secretive..can/should I use their real names, even though the things they do in the book may or may not be true? Or should I make up a name that’s close enough to theirs that people recognize it as them, or should I just steer clear and create a totally new fictitious name for my terrorist group in the book?

Also, what about entities like “Union Carbide” (out of business but recognizable) or even FBI and CIA when they didn’t actually do the things I say they did, in the book? -Paul


A:
If it were me, I’d use fictitious names for the terrorist groups. (There are so many of them, anyway, with similar recurring themes in their names.) I’d probably also use fictitious names for corporations. The FBI and CIA and the like, I’d just use those real names, because there you’d probably be asking the reader to suspend too much disbelief.

Steve Hamilton, Author of the Alex McKnight Novels
Winner of the Edgar and Shamus Awards for Best First Novel