Fact Following Fiction

Some writers can be prescient in their creations. Take Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, a novella written by Morgan Robertson in 1898. It’s about the sinking of an ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner, predating the sinking of the Titanic by fourteen years.

And, less well-known, is a work by Edgar Allan Poe called, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, published in 1838. He wrote about a whaling ship capsizing and the survivors drawing lots to see which crew member should be cannibalized to save the others. Nice. Character, Richard Parker, is the unlucky one selected. 46 years later, a real boat called Mignonette sank and a cabin boy called Richard Parker was killed by the others for food.

You can call it fluke – and you’re perfectly entitled to – but I’d like to hear what you make of these three curious coincidences in my own work…

1) Like many writers, I often use real people for the inspiration behind my main characters. When I started writing Vicki’s Work of Heart, in 2007, my character Christophe Dubois was based, loosely, on sexy French chef, Jean Christophe Novelli. Although, for the benefit of my story, Christophe Dubois is a very poor cook. My heroine, Vicki, is an art teacher. So I was pretty gob-smacked when, in 2009, Jean-Christophe announced his engagement to Michelle Kennedy…an art teacher.

2) Then, there’s a dinner party scene in Vicki’s Work of Heart where Vicki can’t remember whether one of the guests is called Karl or Kurt. As the scene progresses, becoming increasingly tipsy, she wonders if he’s called Kurl or Kart. Here’s the coincidental bit…I had previously been researching my family history and posted an enquiry on a genealogy site about an ancestor who had emigrated to the USA. Many months after writing the scene above, I received a communication from a distant cousin in the US. He has two sons, their names are Karl and Kurt.

3) Finally, in my fourth romantic comedy Gigi’s Island Dream which is set on the Isle of Wight,  my hero plays in the local ice hockey team, so you can imagine my surprise when a press release for my previous book appeared in the Isle of Wight County Press, with this advert beneath it.

Advert in the Isle of Wight County Press
Advert in the Isle of Wight County Press

Please – if you’re a writer and have a prophetic story to tell – do please share in a comment below.

It will not appear immediately, as I have to approve comments – it helps cut out the spammers selling knock-off fashion accessories.

14 thoughts on “Fact Following Fiction”

  1. This happens to me all the time, Rosie! In the lastest book, there was a really mind-blowing one but I can’t tell you what just yet because it’d be a spoiler! But yes, it definitely does happen – love your Kurt and Karl story!

  2. This is back to front to your request but odd all the same. I based a character on a real person and needed her permission to publish. When I told her the unusual name I had chosen, she went white. “That is the name of the child I had who died.” She insisted I keep it.

  3. I dreamt I’d finished writing my current novel. In the morning light I realised that I still have a quite few chapters to go!

  4. In my third book, Seven For a Secret, I had some kids row out to a little island in the Thames and have a fire for their barbecue. The entire island went up in flames. The night after its final edits went in, I was woken in the night by fire engines outside our house and saw a MASSIVE fire on Eel Pie Island across the river from me. All the island’s artist studios (and more) had caught fire and burned down and all the residents were sent across the bridge to our church hall. I dedicated the book to them. Well, you have to.

  5. One amazing book I read years ago, Witches’ Cradle by the fabulous Gillian White, featured a derelict train carriage, left over from a fictional train crash just outside Paddington Station. It was about a year before the big crash there in about ’98 or so.

  6. This hasn’t happened to me with my writing, but several times I’ve read something that then happened in real life. For instance, at the start of “Wasted” by Nicola Morgan the mother dies as she falls onto the open dishwasher. A week later, a friend stabbed herself when she fell onto her open dishwasher -luckily she only ended up with a very sore backside.

    1. Sarah – what a nasty injury. I often think, when I’m stacking the dishwasher, NOT to put objects point up – just in case. How weird, for you, to have fact to follow fiction in that way. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

  7. “It’s happened to me in every book!!!” I think I’ll get Jane to read my tealeaves, next time we meet.