I have stated in this blog that my latest book Flight into Secrecy is based on the events surrounding the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 a couple of years ago. My current project is growing around the events that occurred in New York on 09/11/2001.
Writing from life
So what about using actual events? There are a plethora of books and films taken from such situations and they range from Erin Brockovich to The Dam Busters. So I am not referring to anything new but how does it match up with writing from where we are at as we are advised to do?
What I feel is necessary is to have some kind of emotional connection with the subject. For me, with the missing aeroplane featured in Flight, it was a feeling that there was such a range of difference between the stories released by different media from a variety of countries, that nothing rang true. This triggered the in-built sense of injustice that dwells within me and I investigated further, which eventually led to the book. I've been told that the outcome is a 'fantastic story' and 'the best Steele so far'. I believe that is down to two factors. The first is that with practice I'm becoming a better writer, and the second is driven by the emotional connection described above.
In one sense I was writing from where I'm at.
At around the same time I began writing Flight into Secrecy I discovered the material on what happened on 9/11. Now it would be perfectly reasonable to ask why I hadn't spotted this earlier, even before I began Flight, as it occurred 15 years ago. Well I have a theory! It is easy to be wise after the event, but I missed it because everything was sown up within a few days. By the 13th September, it had been stated that there was proof Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were the culprits. On the 24th September The Patriot Act was passed by the US government and the process of targeting Iraq and eventually Afghanistan, had begun. The media had been a mouth piece for the government and focussed on the tragic loss of life and the culprits rather than examining the scene for evidence of the perpetrators. In fact within a couple of weeks there was little evidence left to examine as all of the steel used in the construction of the 3 towers had been removed for smelting.
The reasons I was finally pulled on to the anomalies of this story, were the controlled way in which Building 7 collapsed almost 8 hours after the twin towers; and, a video believed to be of a missile hitting the pentagon as opposed to a 3rd plane. There are other stories of companies suddenly leaving the Twin Towers in the week before the attack and the fact that building seven was empty of personnel. It had been used by branches of the security services.
To a suspicious, conspiracy theorist such as me it was like a red rag to a bull. I have to write it particularly when coupled with the great feedback on Flight.