Life Imitating Art

Processing possibilities and impossibilities is a human habit and the reason why we love both romances and crime novels, is the reason my kids make their toys kill each other. We’re constantly processing the world we experience (increasingly through media) and trying to construct sense from it. I’m fascinated by the complex dialogue about creativity, art and experience that is media – from Netflix, Game of Thrones, Avengers through to newsmedia and Twitter.

Life imitating art was one of the themes I worked with a lot writing my current manuscript. Although my characters are musicians not writers, it was quite close to my heart how creativity and life become intertwined. When I’m in the drafting stage, I absorb and process ideas from every corner of my life. Ideas recur and synergies appear, as I’ve written in the previous post about this manuscript.

This manuscript has had a particularly dramatic feedback loop as the characters are creative people. The heroine, Cara, has an anxiety disorder following a past trauma and has used writing music to come to terms with how she thinks. The hero, on the other hand, uses music to escape thinking about the difficult times in his past and writes party songs that aren’t directly from experience. Their romance is curated by love songs and poetry and a discourse real life as opposed to the fantasy of the creative world.

And of course it has been accompanied by many weird coincidences in real life. This has happened to me before. After writing my previous book (still waiting…), I discovered the lead singer of one of the Spanish bands I love actually has a similar family story to the hero in my previous book. I just had the idea (from reading the news, so I suppose it’s not surprising), that the hero’s father was a former a politician who had been convicted of corruption and jailed for fifteen years, because I needed the hero to have grown up in a powerful family but to no longer have any power or money. Perhaps I had read the story of Luis Barcenas and unconsciously internalised it, but when I read that the lead singer of one of my favourite bands was the son of a jailed Spanish politician, I was weirdly struck with the fact that I thought I’d made that up. At least Diego wasn’t a musician. That would have been awkward. He’s an economist (in case there are any economics nerds looking for rep).

And now, in the final phase of revisions of this manuscript, Madonna has just upstaged me. At least this time I can clearly say I wrote the book first, but a collaboration with a Colombian music star basically IS my book LOL. At least my Colombian beta reader was already picturing the hero Javi looking kind of like Maluma (I even considered giving him an earring, although I never edited it in). And although I listened to a bit of Maluma while I was writing, he wasn’t my primary inspiration – he’s too young and not quite the right kind of music.

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