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Guest Post | How Real Life Became More Frightening than Fiction by Mike Thomas (Unforgivable)
How Real Life Became More Frightening than the Fictional Events in ‘Unforgivable’
What if the unreal became real?
What if something you were planning to write, something so extreme and preposterous and troubling, became – during the creation of the novel – the horrifying new normal?
I’d had a story idea rattling around my addled brain for some time: what if, against a backdrop of racial tensions in the UK city of Cardiff, a lone white male decided to attack an ethnic market then blow up a mosque? What if this was our very own Anders Behring Breivik moment, or David Copeland all over again, targeting people with nail bombs and firearms and remote-detonated homemade explosive devices? But what if I dialled it up to eleven, really pushing the devastation, the insanity?
And what if these attacks paralysed an entire city? Brought the populace of a cosmopolitan west European capital to its knees, and stretched its emergency services – already fraying at the seams during an ongoing case of racially-motivated murder – to breaking point? How would the police respond to such a meticulously planned and vicious series of events where hundreds of people were left dying or dead?
I thought I’d find out. It was in the early summer of 2015 that I finally began writing, hacking away at an opening chapter – the market scene, where the attacker strides in and begins setting off IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) – that was designed to get the heart thumping. That was designed to leave you open-mouthed at its conclusion, reeling at what you had just read….