Yet another terrorist atrocity, this time in London… and only a few miles from my home. I admit to feeling shocked and depressed for several days afterwards, despite making an effort to carry on as normal. Yes, though it can seem heartless, we need to do that as best we can, I believe, while doing our utmost to oppose Islamic extremism.
This week I’ve spent hours checking the TV news and Twitter in horrified fascination and disbelief. While I couldn’t read the profiles of those killed without tears in my eyes, it’s been cheering to feel the warmth of fellow Londoners out and about in the capital, and to hear the stories of those who courageously fought back or rushed to help others.
And thank god for the British sense of humour. I for one couldn’t help but smile at the irony of this picture of Roy Larner, the ‘Lion of London Bridge’ who quite incredibly fended off the three attackers with nothing but his fists:
Humour is badly needed at a time like this. Life seems more precarious to me than it did just a few weeks ago. I know the chances of being attacked by a terrorist are probably lower than getting knocked over on my bicycle, but even so… I’ve been jumping at noises in the street and while out with the dog the other day was startled to come across a dark, bearded, young man enthusiastically kicking and punching an invisible assailant. He was clearly practising some kind of martial arts. Normally I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. This time, I hastily called the dog and jogged well away, and felt relieved on the way back when the guy had left.
Later I wondered at this sudden bout of fearfulness – along with that other thing which many around the world will have considered, if only briefly. Just what are you going to do if you’re ever confronted by a bunch of knife-wielding maniacs?
Run like hell, in my case. I’ve gone running every day this week and whenever I go anywhere I’ve put on new trainers rather than heels. Also I’ve renewed my resolve to learn kickboxing.
The latest UK terrorist attack has brought back memories of the earlier one in London back in 2005, which set me off on the path of writing the novel that would become Blind Side. I’ve written about the challenges of building a story around these terrible events in a guest post (due 12th July in the BibliomaniacUK blog) and I will be talking about this in an event I’m taking part in soon.
Real Life, Real Books (8pm 5th July in Harpenden, an hour north of London) features three Unbound authors: me, Kerensa Jennings and Jessica Duchen. (Event details) It’s hosted by the energetic Katherine Sunderland who created the BibliomaniacUK blog. Katherine will lead a discussion of how authors incorporate real and reality-inspired events into our novels, and the dilemmas and challenges of doing so.
All three books have an element of real-life horror lurking behind the pages. Kerensa Jennings, author of Seas of Snow was influenced by her coverage of the Soham child murder investigation for the BBC (horrific crimes carried out by a psychopath). Jessica Duchen’s Ghost Variations, alongside its music mystery plot, touches on the oppression and suffering in Nazi-occupied Germany in the prelude to the second world war. My own thriller Blind Side involves the July 2005 London bombings and the horrors of the war between Russia and Chechnya.
Later this month (July 20th) I’ll be at the recently opened, bright and spacious Crouch End Waterstones in north London with Kerensa Jennings and Ian Skewis on a crime/psychological thriller-themed panel. More on this soon.
All those within spitting distance of either event, I’d love to see you!