Sometimes, very rarely, you are lucky enough to have something you put in your soon-to-be-published book occur in real life. That has happened to me in respect of the serial I have just written for People's Friend. This serial was started two years ago. Writing a serial is a long drawn out process as each 5000 word episode has to be agreed (often with two or three revisions) which results in a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the writer and editor. When I began the serial all that time ago, I set it in Sorrento as I had just spent a holiday there. Our hotel and the deserted bay a short walk away were the perfect setting. Vesuvius, the harbour and Pompeii were perfect backdrops for interesting scenes which I knew would chime with many readers who had been to those places or always wanted to go.
One of my characters is an archaeology student and when we visited Pompeii there were stories in the news about the fact that there are still artefacts on the site waiting to be dug up. I therefore made it my hero Antonio's dearest wish to be chosen by his Professore to help with those digs. This became an absorbing storyline and conveniently created tension between his heart's desire and his need to honour his father by helping him run the family hotel. As I was writing the last two instalments, low and behold, my Sunday paper plopped on the mat with a two page article about the Life and Death Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition at the British Museum. I immediately wrote into the last instalments a scene explaining how my hero Antonio had been part of the team which packaged the artefacts to be displayed. The exhibition goes on till September and therefore will be on when my serial comes out in People's Friend plus there have been fascinating programmes on the television. I was delighted that purely by chance my fiction had mirrored real life.
Purely by coincidence, a similar thing has happened to me in the same week. About a year ago I wrote a novella about a female scientist who finds herself a job on a deserted island in the Indian Ocean. My heroine had a child who died as a result of her not taking her baby to be vaccinated about which she feels terrible guilt and shuts herself off from the world. Unfortunately it was not accepted as a pocket novel because the editors felt the death of a child was too raw for the pocket novel world. I shelved the story and only recently, thanks to our own lovely Sally Quilford learnt that Harper Impulse are looking for new romance authors. I duly submitted my story (and am waiting stomach knotted, for their response) but lo and behold in the news came the story about the threatened measles epidemic in Wales due to people choosing not to vaccinate their children. Suddenly my novella was topical! Whether that will give it more chance of being accepted or not I don't know. I wonder how often these sort of coincidences have been visited on other writers, do tell if you've had anything similar. I think now I ought to zoom off and write a novel about a woman, of a certain age who wins the Euromillions lottery and lives a life of unparralelled luxury endlessly cruising the world. Might do that before I check my tickets for yesterday which are languishing in my purse....., you never know your luck! Cara.