Do current events affect fiction?

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Monday musings by multiple bestsellers

There is much happening in the world today. Events are reaching the lives of more and more people, more deeply than is usual in our fragmented, digitally distanced society.

If fiction offers a mirror to society, how do fiction writers incorporate the events of the day they write? BestSelling authors muse about how current events may seep into their writing.

David C. Cassidy, horror

David C. Cassidy

As a fiction author, I often find it useful—and necessary—to incorporate current events or topics into my writing. To me, it brings a sense of urgency and legitimacy to the story when you can bring our world into the ones I create.

Sometimes, I’ll be direct and work an event into a story because it’s a definitive part of the narrative; it simply has to be there. My novel Velvet Rain, being a time-travel thriller, has several historical events in it, as well as “current” events with respect to the time period. Other times, I’ll make passing references to real-world events because it adds realism and impact. As a whole, I think readers enjoy that kind of thing—it makes a connection between what they have experienced in their world and the one they’re being drawn into with my stories.

J.L. Oakley, historical fiction

J.L. Oakley

Writing historical fiction can always be a way to remind the gentle reader that some issues have been around for some time and as justice, progress is made, there are always steps back and then forward. Or maybe tell the story of a real person who might have been left out of the narrative by having a character interact with that person.

Certainly writing about Kanakas or Hawaiians in the 1860 Pacific northwest is always a jolt to those who love to party in their boats out in the San Juan Islands. Few know that their beloved Friday Harbor was once known as a Friday’s Harbor, named after the Hawaiian shepherd whose hut was just up the hill. His story was erased.

Seb Kirby

Seb Kirby, thriller, psychological thriller and science-fiction

I think this happens anyway, whether the author plans it or not. Each book is a kind of projected future – unless it’s self defined as historical. And as William Gibson says: Imaginary futures are always… about the day in which they’re written. Which means all sorts of stuff about the current world seeps into everyone’s story telling. This is why books written thirty years ago are of their time, just as our books will be of our time. So, I don’t believe in incorporating real  current events. Better to let our stories speak for themselves of the times in which we live. 

DelSheree Gladden, romance, paranormal, fantasy and mystery

DelSheree Gladden

I try not to include specific current events in my writing, because it does date the stories. However, I do think the hard topics brought up by specific events can be incorporated into fiction as a way to discuss difficult subjects in a safer space than what social media provides in many cases. In fiction, a tough topic can become personal to the reader, and hopefully give them a different perspective.

Fiction creates something of a buffer, because the characters aren’t real. Their opinions aren’t coming from a friend or family member on Facebook they feel they have to reactor respond to. They can take in the story without the pressure to respond publicly, and hopefully it can sink in and resonate.

Gae-Lynn Woods, mystery, thriller, comic thriller

Gae-Lynn Woods

I think it’s inevitable that current events, or more accurately the impact of those events, winds up in my writing. Current events on a personal / local level or a national or international level have triggered each of my stories, although my books usually come at those events from an angle, rather than head on.

The very real, horrific death of James Byrd, Jr. sparked the idea for Avengers of Blood. That book is not his story, but unaddressed racial tensions from decades ago, and how they carry into the present, became the story. Like Sheree, I want to avoid dating my stories, but when an event strikes me deeply, it’s something I need to explore.

Scott Bury, historical fiction, biography, fantasy, mystery

Scott Bury

Fiction writers never create their stories out of nothing. Even the farthest-out fantasy of the weirdest world has seeds in the reality of today and history. 

Fiction gives readers a new lens to view the events of history and current times. Readers can then see the events, other people, trends and ideas from a different perspective. In that way, fiction can increase sympathy and empathy, and bring us together.

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury
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About Scott Bury