Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Current Events: Handle with Care

Do current events influence your ideas for your books and stories?

By Vicki Delany

I try very hard not to let them.  The problem with current events is that they don’t stay current for very long.   When you consider that it takes most people about six months to a year to write a book and many publishing houses want the finished MS a year before publication you’re possibly looking at two full years from idea to on the shelves.

Thus, what was current… Isn’t.

Case in point: The first Constable Molly Smith book, In the Shadow of the Glacier, concerns a plan to commemorate Vietnam era draft dodgers.  (In real life they say about 30,000 of same settled in the Kootenay area of British Columbia. Many are still there).   As you will know, if you read the series, Molly Smith’s parents, Andy and Lucky, came to Canada from Seattle when Andy got his draft notice.   The plot of the book is taken from something that really happened (a statue to honour Vietnam draft dodgers) but I wouldn't call that current events, as it could have happened at any time.

I later considered looking into the situation of deserters from the US army who didn't want to return to Iraq.   They also have been coming to Canada, although in much smaller numbers than in the Vietnam era, and asking to stay.

I threw around some ideas for the book, but then ultimately decided not to do it.

Primarily because I had no way of knowing what the situation would be like in two years’ time when the book was ready to be read. 

Just as well because two things happened. The Canadian government is treating the situation of the Iraq deserters is vastly different than that of the Vietnam dodgers  and the US pulled out of Iraq.

I would have had trouble keeping up.

Highly undesirable, from a writers point of view, must be when current events overtake a writer.  I wonder if anyone wrote a book due to be published in, say, October of 2001 in which someone goes to a meeting at the World Trade Centre.  

I’m sure there are books out there written in early 1939 and in which an English person goes on vacation in Germany… in 1940.

It’s much easier, and safer, to take a historical event, even recently historical, and draw a story from that. In my forthcoming book, A Cold White Sun, a subplot concerns a woman who had her baby taken (stolen in fact) from her back in the 1960s when she was confined to one of those absolutely inhumane ‘homes for unwed mothers’.
Interested in trying out the Constable Molly Smith series? The first book, In the Shadow of the Glacier, is available at a special introductory price for e-readers.   $2.98 for Kindle.   A Cold White Sun, the sixth in the series, is now available for pre-order from Amazon and your favourite independent bookstore. 


Catriona McPherson said...

Good advice, Vicki! Here's a question: why do your jackets make me homesick???

Catriona McPherson said...

Good advice, Vicki! Here's a question: why do your jackets make me homesick???

Vicki Delany said...

I don't know, Caitriona. Have you ever lived in small town B.C? Or, maybe your Scotland is just like small town B.C.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Very good advice. Publishing is slow and current events travel and change at the speed of light, especially politics!

Your covers don't make me homesick, they make me want to grab a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate. :)