Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Writer's Nightmare

The notices started coming in today via twitter, email, and Facebook comments. They all said roughly, "Hey, I saw this on the news and I thought about your novel."

I've been distracted and pretty much useless all day, tracking the story of the boy who supposedly climbed aboard a lighter than air flying saucer and was being tracked by rescue and news crews trying to figure out how to save him before he was hurt by the altitude, freezing, or a rough landing.

It was all so eerily familiar. I had written a very similar event in my novel "Lighter Than Air" published in 2008. In my science fiction version, the saucer was made of a lifting foam, but the events, where the teenaged hero's little sister climbed inside and launched herself, were too close. I had written about the difficulty, the near impossibility of rescuing someone from a balloon. I had also dealt with the freezing temperatures at altitude and the dangers of getting a helicopter too close.

As I searched for news reports and video streams, I could imagine all the horrible things that could go wrong. I didn't need other people to mention them. I'd done my research.

And I felt guilty about it all. It's hard to explain, but I'd created events, fictional ones, that had somehow come alive, with horrible real consequences. I only hoped that the Heene family had never read my novel.

As we know, the boy was safe. As I write, it appears he never was aboard the flight after all. It was an outcome I had hoped for, but hesitated to let myself believe. When I saw the first videos, I thought, "that's too small for that much lift", but it was too close to be convincing.

I have heard of other authors who have had their murder/theft/terrorist storylines become the events of news reportings. I have a lot more sympathy now than I did before today. Even when there's no direct cause and effect, the mind makes the connection.

Thanks for a happy ending.

1 comment:

Bettye said...

I'd say consider that no matter what you might think of it is certain that, sooner or later, someone else will come up with. I think it is unfair to blame writers for something a person would probably come up with on their own in some fashion.
Besides, this kid's idea may have come from Mythbusters.