Write Stuff – Stranger Than Fiction

Truth might be stranger than fiction, but what happens when fiction meets reality? Or, to put it another way, how far would you go in your devotion to your favourite fiction? Sure, people camp out for days to get concert tickets, but there’s no shortage of diehard fans in the literary world, too. If you think your collection of Twilight novels is awesome, check out how far some folks will go to bring their much-loved fictional worlds closer to reality.

If you’ve ever wanted to step through a small, round door into a cozy hobbit house, you don’t need to travel all the way to the Shire. A real Hobbit House awaits in northwest Montana, just a three-hour drive from Spokane, Washington. It’s a 1,000 square foot hideaway built into the side of a hill, and the master bedroom even has a copy of Gandalf’s pointy wizard hat.

The 20-acre property includes plenty of hobbit-sized magic, as this New York Times article explains: ?a four-foot stump-shaped troll house, a few round-door hobbit houses with chimney pipes and several shoe-box-size fairy houses.? And what would a hobbit house be without a gold ring hanging from the rafters? There doesn’t seem to be a real-life Rivendell in the works, but That’s no surprise. The Hobbit House alone cost its owners about $410,000 to complete.

If Jane Austen and the Regency period are more your style, You’re in good company. Each year, hundreds of fans from all over the world converge on Bath, England, for the Jane Austen Festival?and they take their Austen seriously. Promenaders in full period dress attend balls, concerts, and soirees, and the festival recently broke a Guinness world record for the ?largest gathering of people in Regency costume? (the feat’s available on YouTube. I’ll admit, it was exciting to drive by Austen’s former home on a recent trip to Bath, but creating a full historical costume?and wearing it for a week?takes a whole different level of commitment.

Some people prefer their literary recreations on a smaller scale: in some cases, just one room. That’s what the enthusiasts at 221B Baker Street have built: ?an authentic recreation of the famed sitting room of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.? The room contains items specifically mentioned in various Holmes tales, including a gasogene (forerunner of the seltzer bottle) and microscope.

Getting the details right must have taken an astonishing amount of time, and a close second comes in the artwork of Russell Stutler. As he notes on his site, he ?read the entire collection of sixty Sherlock Holmes stories twice in a row, back to back, and took notes of every detail [he] could find.? Now That’s dedication.

And finally, for the gastronomically adventurous, you might be tempted to recreate the recipes in your favourite literary works. That’s what one Sunday Times columnist has been doing for years?not always with pleasant results. If you aren’t in the mood for some Dickensian gruel, there’s always the recipe for Henry Perowne’s Fish Stew, a questionable delicacy from Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday.

So the next time you return to a favourite series or find a fabulous new author, don’t worry that the fun will end when you turn the last page. Because some fan, somewhere, is sure to be hard at work on a life-size model of George R. R. Martin’s Seven Kingdoms.

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