In writing my "Snap" Malek Chicago historical mysteries, I use actual occurrences and people from a particular era and weave in fictional characters and events. These being novels, I take liberties in creating plots. For instance, in "Three Strikes You're Dead" (set in 1938), I have Al Capone scheming to avoid tranfer from another prison to the dreaded Alcatraz. In "Shadow of the Bomb" (1942), I use the ground-breaking World War II nuclear experiments at the University of Chicago as a backdrop for fictional murders.
Far-fetched? Maybe. But not nearly as far-fetched as what's been happening in Chicago lately. Unless you've been vacationing in the mountains of Nepal, you know that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with an outlandish series of acts including trying to "sell" the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and witholding state funds to a children's hospital unless they sent $50,000 his way.
How can fiction compete? No less a hardened observer of the Windy City scene than attorney and best-selling author Scott Turow wrote in the New York Times that "Even by Chicago's picaresque standards, Tuesday's events are mind-boggling." Indeed. Not long ago, I had this idea to build a plot in which a fictional Illinois governor has an affair and...oh, never mind. Now it all sounds pretty lame.