The reality of fiction

This is true – totally true.  Just when I’m about to write about a forest fire in my novel one happens on our doorstep!  Yesterday’s high temperatures and winds (it reached at least 30degC) whipped sparks, believe to have been caused by a logging crew, into a forest fire that this morning is burning hundreds of hectares of plantation forest at Mt Allan.  The fire is about 20kms from where we live on the Taieri and this morning the smoke was almost as thick as a winter fog.  Just after 6am the helicopters started up at the airfield near us and left with their monsoon buckets. Today is going to be another hot one but rain is forecast for tonight so that at least will put it out.  But today is going to be a smokey one – even here in Dunedin at the university, it is everywhere.  But we are over the hill from it – what must it be like for the helicopter crews and those fighting it on the ground?  At least I can go there on the pages of my novel.



Filed under The process of writing

6 responses to “The reality of fiction

  1. Oh no! Your novel has started to seep into reality, like in Stranger than Fiction! Don’t kill anyone off. 🙂

    Hope the smoke has died down!

    Andrea xx

    • In real life: the smoke was gone this morning but I think it’s because the wind has changed direction. The morning’s newspaper said about 700ha of forestry had been burnt and it would takes weeks to get the fire completely out.
      In the novel: lives have to be saved, heroes will have to be heroes – but that is the fun of writing!

  2. Very dramatic! And atmospheric, I bet.

    My novel is set in Zimbabwe – if it seeped through to real life, I doubt it could make anything there worse than it already is, sadly.

  3. Kathy Dobson

    Hey Karen,
    Just thought I’d drop you a line to let you know how popular your novels are here at Buller High! I haven’t even had a chance to read them myself (am the library manager!) as the 1st one is always out on issue! I always let the kids know of the Westport connection and they are suitably impressed. Hope all is well with you and family, will keep an eye out for your next book!

    • Hi Cathy. Great to hear from you and glad the Westport teens like the books. Of course the “West” in Ella West comes from “Westport” except it has proved not to be the best of pen names as bookshops shelve their books in alphabetical order. You usually have to sit on the floor to find mine! I wrote the first book Thieves when we were managing the O’Conor Home Dairy farm just outside Westport, not that I think many people knew it at the time. I kept it pretty quiet as I didn’t think it was very good. When we left Westport for Dunedin it sat in a drawer for about a year then I got it out, plucked up courage and sent it to the publishers Longacre and they said yes!

  4. tsr

    Hi Karen

    Have just come across a fun article featuring writers talking about the process of writing:

    That’s part one and I believe there’s a part two as well.


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