An author friend told me not long ago that something he wrote about in one of his thrillers came true. He was astonished when he saw the news item. This got me really thinking, because something similar happened with my romance/thriller, The Tangled Web. Quite a few incidents in The Tangled Web are factual and there are one or two real people mentioned in it, but there’s an event I didn’t know about when I wrote the book. It hadn’t become public knowledge yet, so I simply wrote it down to my vivid author’s imagination.
The incident I’m referring to made headlines around the world when it took place – about a week after The Tangled Web was published. Let me stop here for a minute and explain that the primary setting of The Tangled Web is based on Jamaica and the story is about a government’s ties to a leading Colombian drug cartel. The headline-making incident was the refusal by the Jamaican government to comply with a U.S. State Department request for extradition of “one of the world’s most dangerous drug kingpins.” The drug kingpin was Christopher Coke, then head of the notorious Shower Posse, suspected of having committed more than 1,000 drug-related murders in the United States and Jamaica. As a CBC Canada report stated, “the Shower Posse is one of the world's most violent criminal gangs and controls an international weapons and drug-smuggling ring with tentacles reaching into Europe and North America."
Although my drug kingpin’s tentacles are equally far reaching or even more so, she’s not a man. She’s a beautiful and ruthless Colombian drug boss named Maria Echevarría. And here’s where things get really interesting. I remember when Maria arrived on my computer screen out of nowhere, hissing at her second in command from across the room, “You live in the lap of luxury and yet look how you pour a glass of cognac, like a peasant.” I sat back in my chair staring at the screen and wondering who on earth is she? I didn’t plan to have any such character. She just kind of muscled her way into the story of her own accord. As it turns out, there’s a real life Maria, or there was up until 2012 when Griselda Blanco, also known as "The Godmother," was assassinated in Colombia. In case you don’t know anything about Blanco, here’s her story. She was the mentor of some of the famous Colombian drug lords of the 1980s, including Pablo Escobar. Blanco herself is suspected of having committed more than 200 murders while transporting cocaine from Colombia to New York, Miami and Southern California. More about her here http://www.biography.com/people/griselda-blanco-20965407#awesm=~oCzoXCzxU1G7Ru
My friend and I are not the only authors who’ve had this kind of experience, but it leads you to wonder what is it exactly we writers tap into when we enter the world of our books? Is it some kind of bank of universal knowledge? If you’re a writer and have any thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear them. Readers, you're welcome to weigh in too.