The truth, as the cliché goes, is stranger than fiction. And when fiction seems to predict actual events, it can get downright – well, everyone seems to agree that surreal seems to be the perfect word to describe it.
Writer Kealan Ryan finished writing his book, The Middle Place, in 2014 but it wasn’t published until March this year. When Kirsty Cyane-McGill heard about it she immediately got in touch with Kealan. Why?
“There is an actual person behind the book you wrote. His name was Chris. He was 34 and he was the most amazing, handsome, sometimes pain in the ass, but always loving and caring.”
Kealan’s book – written in 2014, remember – tells the story of Chris, a man who’s killed by a single punch outside a bar in Dublin by a man called Danny. In 2017, Kirsty’s partner, Chris, was killed by a single punch outside a bar in Dublin by a man called Daniel. The similarities in the fictional and real life stories are striking, as Kealan outlined to Ryan:
“The ages are the same of Kirsty and the main girl in this. And Chris is the same age and it’s in Dublin, the same year. It was pretty surreal.”
When Kirsty was sent an article on Kealan’s book by Chris’s sister, she couldn’t believe what she was reading:
“It was a bit like, what’s going on here, you know? Why’s my life in a book?”
Ryan presumed that Kirsty needed to take a moment after reading the article. To pause for breath and gather her thoughts. Quite the opposite, in fact:
“I just messaged him straight away because I kind of panicked a little bit. I didn’t know what was going on, it was so surreal.”
For Kealan, meeting Kirsty and seeing pictures of Chris made it almost seem as if his characters had faces. He feels that he and Kirsty had an instant connection, something that was quite emotional.
But reading the book hasn’t been easy for Kirsty – she told Ryan that she’s still making her way through it, not least because it’s written in Chris’s voice, which Kirsty says is almost like he’s talking to her.
“The closer I get to the end of the book, it’s kind of like a goodbye, so I’m finding that quite difficult.”
Despite the emotion and the frankly startling coincidences, Kirsty does think that having this book in her life is something special:
“It’s kind of like the goodbye we didn’t get, I suppose.”
The Middle Place by Kealan Ryan is published by Mercier Press.
You can hear Ryan’s full interview with Kealan and Kirsty, as well as the rest of The Ryan Tubridy Show here:
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