SPOILER ALERT: If you are going to read my latest novel, Loser’s Memorial, there are potential spoilers to the complex and thrilling plot in the information below.
Okay, you’ve been warned so let’s begin. While I was writing my novel Loser’s Memorial, I kept a collection of creepy news articles that helped inspire the plot. I did that so that if I was ever confronted with a critique that the story was too far-fetched, I could simply point to one of the articles and note that yes the story was fiction, but based on more facts than you might expect.
I enjoy writing fiction because you can speculate and exaggerate. Like satire and caricature, by exaggerating something, you expose aspects of it that might not be visible based on a faithful representation. As I see it, here’s the difference: non-fiction instructs, fiction illuminates. Both are a form of teaching.
To further justify the strange twists in Loser’s Memorial, in my view, reality itself is surreal. I don’t think I’m alone in this because when people are surprised, as they often are, it’s usually because they knew the world was crazy, but they didn’t think it was THAT crazy. That feeling, of not assessing the extent of the strangeness, is a theme I encounter often in life and one that I enjoy exploiting in fiction. That said, I’m not a big fan of so-called conspiracy theories in real life. I think they’re great fiction, but not fact. I’ll speak more on that another day.
Below, divided into the subjects touched on in Loser’s Memorial, are news stories that bring the fiction closer to fact. Thank you for reading and remember the world is stranger than you think.
Corrupt War Contractors
- Troops Exposed to Toxins in Iraq by KBR – http://www2.iava.org/o/436/t/8492/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1797
- Blackwater used grenades on unarmed Iraqis – http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/5-Blackwater-guards-charged-in-Baghdad-attack-1294123.php
- Former Blackwater employees accuse security contractor of defrauding government (including paying prostitutes) – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/11/AR2010021100232.html?hpid=topnews
- Iraq Case Sheds Light On Secret Contractors – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121485921602717113.html
- Use of Iraq Contractors costs billions – http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/washington/12contractors.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1218546384-X3Z/dMRvZQY1ThmSoIOSkA&pagewanted=print
Felons as Soldiers
- Suspect Soldiers Troubled histories follow some troops to Iraq war – http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2008/07/13/20080713suspect-soldiers0713.html
- More convicted felons allowed to enlist in Army and Marines – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080421/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/military_felons
CIA Secret Prisons in other countries
- CIA Prisons in Poland –http://wyborcza.pl/1,86871,5662023,CIA_Prisons_in_Poland__a_Story_of_Revelation.html
- CIA fires contractors guarding secret prisons – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30144129/
“Iceberg tips” (Stories that hint at much deeper weirdness)
- Defense contractor accused of human trafficking – http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-28-3325872730_x.htm
- Suit claims Halliburton and KBR sickened base – http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/12/military_kbr_lawsuit_121508w/
- No criminal charges in electrocution death – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32334682/ns/us_news-military/t/no-criminal-charges-electrocution-death/#.UGTqC1Fy30Y
- Pentagon Knowingly Exposed US soldiers to Toxic Waste (leaked memo) – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/pentagon-knowingly-expose_n_173493.html
- Clinton adviser suggests allowing plane be shot down to provoke war with Iraq – http://www.salon.com/2010/10/15/clinton_official_iraq_hugh_shelton/