The end of this week marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and I still vividly recall where I was when the news came that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I was sitting in my office in Oakland, early that morning (I worked for a UK company at the time so I would start pretty much as soon as I got up). I saw the news on AOL and then quickly turned on CNN. My husband had already left for work and I called him in the car. He had no idea what I was talking about or why I was worried about news reports that there were still planes in the air unaccounted for. I had only my old dog Benjamin for company as I watched the towers fall on CNN and heard reports of the plane crashing into the Pentagon and, later, flight 93 which plowed into a field in Pennsylvania. Since I had just finished some legal work relating to the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the World Trade Center attacks seemed to be a further, horrifically poignant reminder of how the ordinary can turn to tragedy in a matter of minutes.
I think it was Stephen King who said that he wrote to try and confront his fears and I believe at the heart of every great thriller is the sudden overturning of everything that is mundane and ordinary – the world literally turned upside down. On the weekend we saw the televised account of flight 93 – now, I am not usually into watching that kind of thing, but I was struck by just how ordinary that morning was and just how familiar it seemed too (having waited for many an early morning flight to San Francisco). That made the events of that day all the more chilling.
So when you write, do you try and confront some of your own fears? Do you try and create a world that is familiar and ordinary before turning everything on its head?
PS: Apologies, this post is abbreviated as my beloved puppy, Hamish, went missing a few hours ago – he got frightened and bolted (with his lead on and everything). I am very much afraid he has dashed into the bush – so I need some collective good thoughts/prayers that he will be found.
PPS: Just in! I retrieved Hamish from a very kind neighbor who found him – some 5 hours after he went missing – so all’s well that ends well! Though I think I’ve had enough angst and upset for one day….