Once in a blue moon, reality confirms your fictional character and his story. How often this happens is anyone’s guess. But it happened to me over the weekend.
On 19th July 2009 The Washington Post broke a story about CIA secret prisons in Thailand. Paying Back Jack, my latest Vincent Calvino novel, which will be released in the USA in November and the UK in December, has a backstory concerning such a secret prison in Bangkok. Casey is the fictional character who has been involved in what is called enhanced interrogation. What used to be called torture until it was decided that caused ordinary people to flinch.
Reading The Washington Post story, it was as if one of the real life actors in the interrogations was speaking as Casey in my book. “The thing that will make him talk,” the participant recalled Mitchell saying, “is fear.”
In Paying Back Jack, Casey has made a career of understanding a man’s fear. He talks about torture in a secret Bangkok CIA facility, “In my line of work you search through another man’s secret life to find the things he can’t admit to himself. That’s the place that he’s most easily killed.”
I’ve never met Mitchell or anyone (that I was aware of) connected with the secret prisons. When you live in a place like Bangkok long enough, a place where almost anything is possible, your mind finds the patterns in the system, and imagination takes over to link the dots. When reality checks the novel you wrote a year before the news story breaks, you’ve received something that you wish for: an insight into the zeitgeist and a fair representation of how this shapes our lives.