In the past week, I’ve been thinking about Donald Trump way more than I’d like to.
It’s not because of the hearings and arrests on Monday – although that is certainly interesting – but rather because of the effect that Trump’s election is having on fiction writers.
The bad guy in my second novel, A House Divided, is called Leonard Trask. I first wrote him 13 years ago, before Trump had shown any sign of going into politics. But he’s a far-right politician who has an uncanny knack of doing things that Trump then goes and does in real life. So much so that I’ve had to rewrite huge chunks of the book to make it more fiction and less documentary.
When the opening chapters were first critiqued by a group of readers, one of the comments was, ‘Is Leonard Trask based on Donald Trump?’. He isn’t. But the two of them seem to be getting closer and closer. The similarity of the name is pure coincidence (unless my subconscious was up to something) and after much deliberation, I’ve decided to stick with it.
To be honest, when I picture Leonard Trask in my head, I’ve always seen Blake Carrington from Dynasty (which dates me, I know).
I’m not the only one whose fiction is affected by Trump. The thriller To Kill the President by Sam Bourne (the pen name of Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s Washington correspondent) has become a bestseller. It’s based on a fictional presidency that’s a version of Trump’s administration so thinly disguised that the disguise is but a wafer.
I also came across a short story this week that I wrote the day after Trump’s election. It was my way of processing my confusion and bewilderment. I’m currently editing it and if I like it enough, I’ll share it with members of my book club at a later date.
Meanwhile, satirists and impressionists are having a field day, much as they did in the 80s under the Thatcher and Reagan administrations. But this is the first time I’ve seen such an effect on fiction.
Let’s just hope that all the fictional doomsaying turns out to be just that and that the world becomes a better and not a worse place between now and 2020. And with that uplifting thought, I’ll leave you until the next newsletter!
Have a good bonfire night – I know who’s going to be our Guy 😉