I imagine every writer suffers from this affliction: wherever we go, whomever we meet, whatever we hear, see and read – we steal it. Whatever we touch turns into a story, which we write greedily and for which we claim sole ownership.
It’s called “copyright”.
We don’t want others to copy our work. We make them pay for it even though, in the first instance, we have stolen it.
I do it all the time. It has become a habit of which I am barely aware. Every person I ever got to know will sooner or later make it to my books. So, beware! Avoid me if you care for your privacy. Or your mortal right.
The same with places. I nick every place that I visit. At some point I will pull it out of my back pocket and it will become a setting for my story.
All writers do it.
On my recent trip to the Canary Islands I discovered that a lot of stories that I would like to write had already been stolen and written by others. Like so:
1. The Odyssey (Sirens calling to Odysseus)
2. For Whom the Bell Tolls
3. Robinson Crusoe
4. Guns of Navarone
5. The Old Man and the Sea
6. Treasure Island
I am a proud owner of the first draft of Wide Angle, a Gilbert and Alice mystery. It is a light-hearted look at crime, something one would call cozy crime, the sort you’re not afraid to take to bed with you at night. Murder happens, naturally, but amidst all that bloodshed there is room for quirks and oddities, eccentricities of the highest order and outright silliness – generally speaking: my life and the people that populate it.
Don’t let any writer tell you that any similarity between the characters in their books and any living (or dead) persons is purely coincidental. No such thing as absolute fiction!
To give you an example of the kind of real life incidents you may find yourself cosied up to in bed when reading one of my books:
Yesterday, I asked Daughter to carry a pair of heavy speakers to Husband’s study. My back, you see, is shot due to a spot of aeroball. She obliged (grudgingly) and placed the speakers oddly in the doorway, kind of facing each other, like so:
I was intrigued and confused by that awkward positioning, but you see, I shouldn’t be at all, because the speakers were doing what speakers do best – they were speaking to each other!
You can see it, can’t you?