For me, that question has always been easy.
I believe that art imitates, or reflects the life around us.
But it can sometimes seem like the opposite.
I have written about many subjects and explored many themes.
Coincidence and synchronicity are bound to happen when you are writing every day.
A writer is almost constantly aware of what they have written, especially their most recent words.
It is not surprising that we feel affected when something happens that relates to our stories.
The news of the horrific fire in London’s Grenfell tower came the day after I had written about my own character’s hatred of tower blocks.
As well as feeling sad and horrified for those affected, I felt uneasy. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had written only the day before.
I have been working on this particular story for a while. It is one of my Liverpool stories and is set in the 1970s. My character lives in an inner city two-up-down house where she has an outside toilet, no bathroom or shower and no hot water.
She has dreams of a better life and I wrote how she hates the idea of ever having to live in a tower block, despite them being equipped with bathrooms. There is a short unedited extract from that story here.
My uneasiness increased when I learned, that after repeatedly voicing their concerns about fire risks in the block and being ignored, the resident’s group had predicted this catastrophe, in writing, on their website.
Uneasiness is just a feeling however. I know deep down that my story relates to this catastrophe only by coincidence.
As for the residents who predicted this fire, well they did so because they had inside knowledge. They knew about the risks of fire because they lived there.
They knew that their repeated complaints about these risks were not addressed.
For them, it was easy to predict a fire, but the horror of it is, that despite their fears, they still had to live in those flats.
My own little bit of uneasiness is nothing. Nothing compared to the suffering of those who died in that fire. I hope those responsible for the care and maintenance of this building are at least feeling uneasy.
My heart goes out to all those residents. Many are dead, injured and many more have had all their possessions destroyed and their memories gone forever – nothing to do with art, nothing to do with coincidence, but everything to do with greed and indifference.