As a writer, I've always believed that people want to read a novel about the 5% of life, not the 95%. That is, the weird, extraordinary, odd, fantastical, nonsensical, futuristic, psychotic, sociopathic, grisly, dangerous, thrilling, secret, superlative, spiritual, exotic, sexy 5%. Fantastical new worlds. Aliens and time travel. Paradigm shifts. Not the life everyone leads, but that 5% that no-one expects to encounter in real life.
Life Imitating Art?
My novel, "The Secret Alchemist," is set against the backdrop of a group of the world's political leaders tackling the global economic crisis, including deciding to change how they approach tax avoidance. Life imitating art? That would be hubris in the extreme, but as a novelist it is uncommonly odd to see what you thought, reasonably, was a fantastical idea suddenly pop up in real life.
Arab Spring Segues into Tax Avoidance Summer
Ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago, this wasn't in the news, or on the global agenda, in the way it is now. It's as if the 5% has moved neatly into the 95% with barely a murmur, the Arab Spring of 2012 replaced in the news by the Tax Avoidance Summer of 2013. How will this progress? How will business respond? I'll leave that to financial and political commentators to evaluate and advise us on, as these aren't the subject of this post, but as a novelist, though, I remain startled. It's a bit like discovering that the centre of the earth really is full of dinosaurs and not magma and rock. That Darcy really did marry Elizabeth and their descendants are happy and well and living in Surrey. That an invasion really was planned from the Friesian Islands. Fantastical ideas that entertained, but reality? Never.
The Art of the Novelist
As the quantum physicists never tire of telling us, the Universe may be even more fantastical than we ever thought. Human beings, though, remain the most fantastical of creatures, and I've learnt, as a novelist, that life can be far more exotic than fiction, if human beings so decide.
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