Now, as The Vesuvius Isotope teeters on the brink of no-longer-private, that thought comes back to the surface. I am all too aware that this novel, and the one that will follow it, both have a very real potential to piss off some very real people pretty badly.
On the one hand, this is great. Controversy sells, right? But on the other hand, as the release date for The Vesuvius Isotope approaches, I realize I am also setting myself up for a possibility of life imitating art.
As this realization forced its way from the back of my brain toward the front, I found myself thinking that this is probably not an uncommon concern for authors of thrillers. We incorporate a great deal of realism into our stories, even bringing to light modern-day controversies that are very much ongoing. We write of terrorist organizations, government cover-ups and the mafia. We sometimes change names to protect the "innocent," but most of the time, we don't. Most of the time, we point an unapologetic finger directly at the real-life individual or organization that inspired the novel. And not everyone wants those controversies brought to light.
I tell myself that perhaps I am just being paranoid. Perhaps we authors of mysteries and thrillers harbor a particularly keen attraction to the "what ifs." Perhaps it is that attraction that leads us to write what we write in the first place. Perhaps there really is no threat to a novelist, after all. I tell myself this, and then to ease my own concerns, I quickly Google "author murdered." And I retrieve a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Whoops!
Here I pose the question: Does your novel put you in danger? Do you think that exposing a clandestine war, a secret society or a person's dark side ultimately exposes YOU, as the whistle-blower, to the wrath of the ones you exposed? Or do you think that once the cat is out of the bag, the threat is neutralized?