Ever noticed how the 'reality' of contemporary fiction doesn't often directly reflect – for want of a better word – 'real' reality?
Okay, so that's a bit of a broad question. We know that it's FICTION, I'm not talking about the strange propensity of all bomb diffusing to be successful with only one second on the clock, or the way the heroine/hero saves the day at the last moment, or even the serendipity of their meeting at all.(By the way, the superhuman, awesome writer Terry Pratchett uses this in his books as the it's-a-million-to-one-shot-but-it-might-just-work. Whoever heard of a last minute, desperate 876 to one shot coming off?)
No, what sparked this train of thought was the fact that on Saturday morning I was thinking I wanted a bit of a rest from social networking and being 'out there'. It happens once in a while, the constant urge to be connected fades and I just want to retreat for a few days and recharge my batteries. Noting serious, nothing sinister, but it made me wonder – why don't my characters feel the same way sometimes?
Then I realised that none of my characters (at least, at the moment) use Twitter, or share Farmville watering duties on Facebook, or blog, or even show withdrawal symptoms if they're separated from the BlackBerry.
I remember my first book's original draft showed nary a sign of a mobile phone, either. Okay, so they're essentially in hiding for most of the book, but still. The second... well, they're struggling to survive in the Sahara for a good part of the story, so I'll acquit them. But you don't find a secondary character googling seasonal weather in the Western Sahara or texting to hero to check he's remembered the passports.
In the book I'm working on at the moment, Google does crop up. There's plenty of mobiles, a netbook or two (and incidentally a death-ray and an earthquake machine, but that's beside the point), but still they're not tweeting requests for help with clues, or letting their family know what they ate for supper on Facebook. I can't say I've read many mainstream, popular books which include reference to the social networking sites, either.
Is it because technology, and social networking, moves so fast, and publishing so slow, that books are always a little behind the times? Or is it because we WANT fiction to be a little other-worldy – our world, but not quite our world.
Or am I just a closet luddite?
What do you think?
Don't forget to come back on Thursday, for Pia's next post.