You Know That Sinking Feeling

As a writer it is perhaps inevitable that sooner or later fiction and real life will collide. In November 2014 I wrote a short story entitled “Women’s Shoes” which originally appeared as a guest post on a fellow blogger’s site and, subsequently under the title “Shoes” in my collection of short stories, “The Suspect And Other Tales”, ( The story deals with the obsession of a serial killer with the footware worn by prostitutes and is a work of fiction with no basis in fact.

Having finished “Shoes” I e-mailed it to my blogging friend, shut down the laptop and headed off for Sunday lunch in a local pub. There I sat, pint in hand idly browsing the Telegraph’s website on my mobile phone as I waited for my Sunday roast to arrive. My attention was arrested by a story regarding a man accused of having murdered 2 women in his Hong Kong flat., ( The article referred to the victims as “sex workers” and contained horrific details regarding their deaths. Suddenly I didn’t feel particularly hungry. At first glance my story bore an uncanny resemblance to the article I was reading. Both the Telegraph’s piece and my story deal with the killing of prostitutes (in my case on a purely fictional basis while the newspaper’s piece pertains to the killing of flesh and blood women). I had written my story in total ignorance of the murders and had I known of the killings would not have penned it. However given that I had composed the story what was I to do? Should I email my blogging friend asking that the piece be deferred, or not published in any form?

I looked at the facts of the case. My story was set in the UK and was written in total ignorance of the Hong Kong killings. In the (fictional) “Shoes” the killer is obsessed with the footware worn by the world’s oldest profession, (there was no intimation of any such obsession in the Telegraph’s article). In”Shoes” the psychopathic killer keeps his victims bodies frozen in a commercial freezer, meaning there would be no odour of decomposition, while in the Hong Kong case the corpse’s of the unfortunate ladies where found in a state of decomposition in the apartment of the accused (his neighbours had complained of the smell emanating from the flat). In short it was a pure coincidence that my story bore a passing resemblance to the (real-life) Hong Kong case and on this basis I determined not to withdraw it from publication.

There is, as is so often remarked “nothing new under the sun”. It is inevitable that stories written in total ignorance of (real-life) crimes will sometimes reflect (albeit wholly unintentionally), and often in an indirect manner those actual happenings.


(Please note, the Hong Kong case is still to go to trial and I make no assumption as to the outcome of the case, I.E. a man is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law).

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