Out of the Blue
Lots of books are inspired by true events in the real world. Art imitating life. But imagine how weird it would be if you’d written a fantasy and one of your characters turned up living in your neighbourhood? Life imitating art? It’s enough to give you goosebumps. Especially when the character is causing quite a disturbance.
Signs appeared ‘out of the blue’, according to a BBC television report, warning motorists in Stansted Mountfitchet to slow down because of an unusual hazard – ‘Peacocks crossing’. And who is the leader of the gang? ‘The notorious Percy,’ says the news reporter.
Percy the Peacock is very much alive and appears to have found a much grander home beyond the pages of the novel. (Osmaston Hall clearly wasn’t posh enough.) He has taken up residence at Mountfitchet Castle! He even has his own ‘entourage’ of peahen wives. Good old Percy!
Now you might argue that I must have heard about him and filed him away in my memory before I began writing the book. But the thing is Percy appeared in the first draft of my story in 2006. With a spectacular cry that makes him better than any guard dog, he has a very noisy and dramatic role.
The real-life Percy also has an impressive shriek, one that sometimes ruffles a few feathers in Stansted. If you listen to the news report you’ll discover he calls day and night and ‘he’s famous for basically annoying most of the residents.’