The most memorable example of this is Room: Emma Donoghue's 2009 novel was published only a few weeks after Jaycee Dugard was rescued after being kidnapped and held prisoner for 18 years.
Room, the story of a mother and son held in a backyard shed, was actually inspired by the 2008 case of Elisabeth Fritzl—but what are the chances that a similar case would appear right around its pub date?
Well, it's happened again: The breaking news of the three Ohio women who were rescued after being held prisoner for 10 years sounds chillingly familiar after reading Koethi Zan's upcoming thriller, The Never List.
The Never List is a graphic, extremely disturbing story of four girls who are held captive in a dungeon-like cellar for many years by a sadistic professor. Ten years after their rescue, Sarah is trying to live a normal life—but the professor is up for parole, and he's begun to mess with her head all over again. Sarah begins a search to put him away for good, and she finds herself reliving her worst memories and discovering some unpleasant secrets.
Over the next few weeks, there will be a lot of questions about the women in Ohio—what they endured, what their kidnappers wanted. The Never List is a gripping read, but what makes it so disturbing is its depiction of the psychological toll of captivity and abuse, something that news stories can only hint at. It seems likely that when The Never List is published on July 16, its readers might be wondering how similar the stories of its characters are to the terribly sad stories of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight.
Koethi Zan is one of our 2013 Women to Watch. See the full list here.