Is real life stealing my plots?

Readers of First Dead Body, my debut novel published in 2014, will know – or will at least have surmised – that certain elements are based on fact, such as the construction of Derby’s new ring road and River Derwent bridge in the very early 70s. With the completion of the follow-up and the next in the series, A Fatal Drug, fate is dealing me an uncomfortable coincidence.
I read recently in the Derby Telegraph that there has been a quite major burglary at a cricket club in the county. Without giving too much away, and at a much reduced level, one of the characters in A Fatal Drug gets involved in a series of thefts from village cricket clubs. I suppose I could stamp my foot and shout ‘unfair’, or I could smile and see it as extra publicity, but the first of these won’t do me any good, and the second is not on the cards as the completed manuscript hasn’t started the journey towards actual print yet.
What this incident does flag up is some potential quirks that writers of fiction with an historical base could meet. For instance: If you had written a novel – fiction from start to finish – where a central plank of the plot was the discovery of the body of a King killed in battle 530 years ago, you’d have been a little unnerved by the revelations in Leicester!
I was told a few years ago that an author should write about what he knows: be that police procedures, teaching, armed forces – whatever. For an ex-journalist it is slightly harder as we have spent a career immersed in all strata of human life. That will undoubtedly include corrupt politicians and police, and other figures of authority; it will also include violent criminals, con-men, and others who make up the detritus of society and who end up in Magistrates and Crown courts. Then there are the heroes who battle to keep their heads above the mire and end up succeeding. All these people are going to end up in print.
The difficulty is that, as is the nature of the world, the most fictitious murder and thriller plots are eventually going to be trumped by real life! There are few, if any, sordid sex romps or crimes involving torture and murder that, while they look horrific on the page, are any more graphic than real life – as one reads in newspapers or hears about down the pub, obviously.
A solution? No. There isn’t one. However, if you do know who committed the raid on that cricket club, please send them round. I’ll gladly smack them round the chops for stealing my plot.

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