Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unlikely Inspiration

A few days ago we had ourselves that earthquake in Ottawa, a magnitude five quake. Certainly enough to feel, hear, and talk about for a few days. That night, a seismologist with the Geological Survey here spoke about it on television, and sure enough, it was the same seismologist I had consulted with for the first chapter of Heaven And Hell. There I featured a magnitude five quake rumbling through Israel. Of course, that passage was written a good while ago, but it's still something of an odd coincidence.

News items can be a gold mine for inspiration, of course. I wonder how many writers out there found inspiration in the volcanic eruptions in Iceland that for a time grounded air traffic in Europe. A good many, I would think, and all in different ways. Ian McEwan talked about it in an interview while he was stranded on this side of the ocean. For him, a story might be gleaned out of a traveller stranded on this side of the ocean because of a disaster. For me, writing in the spy thriller genre, I might be more inclined to go with the catastrophic eruption, accompanied by a pyroclastic flow. It's one hell of a way for a character to die.

And then there's what's happened last weekend, with the G8 and G20 conferences. A city was held hostage by both the ego of a school yard thug who occupies the Prime Ministers' office, and the tactics of a pack of anarchists who proceeded to destroy everything in their path and cause no end of trouble for legitimate protestors. I've been disgusted on both fronts, of course. On the one hand, the thug Prime Minister wants nothing more then to set back the clock and turn my country into a hard right neo-con nation that Dubya would have been proud of. I love my country, and I hate what this man and his cabal are doing to it. On the other, these anarchists went and destroyed property, stores, and whatever else they could get their hands on, both discrediting real protestors and playing right into the hands of Mr. Harper.

At the same time, some creative ideas came to mind. One of the protestors, a decidedly left wing sort who's got something of a Che Guevera complex (even dresses like him) is certainly going to make an appearance down the line in my works, and if he ever reads it, he won't like my take on him. The same will go for another protestor, a man who heads an anti-poverty group here in Ontario (not that he actually wants to end poverty; what would he do with his time if that happened?). And as to the anarchists themselves? The users of the Black Bloc tactic? Yes, they'll turn up down the line. Five books in. And the angle I'll use on them is something different then even the tactics they use themselves. Let's just say that one member of their group will have an agenda all their own....

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