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Real Life Mimics Fiction

#1
My husband and I were at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago, and as I sat there listening to the host pontificating, I realised that our host was the perfect Professor Slughorn from the Harry Potter books. The man is a retired professor from the university my husband works at, and he 'collects' people. Those of us at his dinner party were part of his collection, and I smiled at the parallels with Rowling's characters.

Then last night, we were hosting our own dinner party when, in the middle of the meal, the lights went out. Shocked silence gave way to murmurs of fear. "Stay where you are." I said. "I'll light some candles." Then I nearly laughed, realising we'd been plunged into an Agatha Christie novel, and my 'stay where you are' came right on cue. I almost expected someone to be face down in their dinner when the lights came up again, and wondered if Hercule Poirot would walk through the door.

We writers are forever absorbing the odd characters and occurrences of real life as fodder for our writing. But lately it seems, I've found real life mimicking literary scenes I know. Have you ever found yourself suddenly in the midst of a familiar novel?
 
#2
When I was living in America, I paid a visit to my local Publix supermarket. As I approached the sliding doors, I noticed a man sitting on a bench outside the entrance, smoking a cigarette and enjoying the sun.

He was whip-thin, and despite being in a relaxed pose, somehow gave off an air of great tension—looking like he hated the world and was expecting it to attack him at any moment. He wasn't so much smoking his cigarette as sucking the life out of it, stabbing it into his mouth, then blasting its vapours out like an angry dragon. He wore work clothing, including a baseball cap, which bore the logo of a pest control company—the same as that on a scruffy panel van parked nearby, which had a huge fibreglass fly mounted on the roof! I realised that his tension most likely came from ingesting the deadly fluid he sprayed everywhere...I steered clear of him, as he looked so paranoid.

Avoiding catching his eyes, which were hidden behind dark sunglasses, I suddenly realised that he was the double of a character in cartoon series King of the Hill—pest exterminator Dale Gribble. I actually looked around, to see if he was part of some hidden camera show...was I about to encounter Hank Hill himself? Maybe, he'd deliberately copied the character, to help sell his services, but it was a disconcerting step from reality into cartoon world for me!

 
#3
Life is full of colourful people and scenarios, some amusing, some sad, some not nice experiences, but all added to the grand confusion that is life. If I wrote them into my books, people would say, that's too far-fetched, or, someone that nasty isn't believable. But all these little scenarios are the true meaning behind 'write what you know'. If we all only wrote about stuff we are confident about, many of us would write intensely tedious books.
 
#4
Life is full of colourful people and scenarios, some amusing, some sad, some not nice experiences, but all added to the grand confusion that is life. If I wrote them into my books, people would say, that's too far-fetched, or, someone that nasty isn't believable. But all these little scenarios are the true meaning behind 'write what you know'. If we all only wrote about stuff we are confident about, many of us would write intensely tedious books.
True. I used to incorporate outlandish real events I'd experienced into my fiction, but they were always beaten down by beta readers as not believable enough ('no one would ever say that!', 'this could never happen!'), so I stick with dragons now, because, you know, they're believable. o_O
 
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