Is Kindness Just Fiction? by Victoria Walters
When I decided to write a book centred around kindness, I liked the idea of having a place in where kindness was encouraged. I needed somewhere my three main characters could decide to make their pact to be kinder to others, and themselves, which is a challenge that ends up changing the course of their lives for good. This is where Summer at the Kindness Café was born. I decided that Brew, the café in the book, would have a kindness board – a chalkboard in pride of place where their customers could write up acts of kindness they had received. I was unsure, however, whether acts of kindness were actually something that happened in real life.
I took to the internet and researched real-life random acts of kindness stories and was amazed to see just how many there were. There were also a lot of sites listing ideas about how to carry out such acts of kindness yourself, which was really heart-warming to see, even though I hadn’t experienced a random act of kindness by a stranger myself.
As I started writing the book, I knew I needed an act of kindness to kick things off. I decided that one of the main characters, Eszter, would arrive in Littlewood, the village in the Surrey Hills where the book is set, and deliver to one of the other main characters, Abbie, her lost handbag. This would introduce the characters to one another, as well as kickstart their kindness mission. And that’s when real-life started to mirror fiction in a really crazy way . . .
While out shopping one day, I suddenly realised my handbag was no longer on my shoulder. I had that cold wash of panic as I frantically retraced my steps in the shop to try to find it. I was wearing a leather jacket and the strap of the bag was a gold chain, and I thought it must have slid off somehow and I hadn’t noticed. As I walked around the shop, I just knew it was gone. Someone was bound to have swiped it from where I dropped it or perhaps even taken it from me without me seeing. I was just about to leave and head off to cancel cards, etc. when a shop assistant frantically flagged me down from the escalator. She had seen my bag on the floor and had been trying to find me in the shop to give it back to me. I was so happy, I gave her a big hug!
As I left the shop, it hit me that what had happened to me was exactly how the story of Summer at the Kindness Café starts.
That day showed me that random acts of kindness can and do happen in real life as well as fiction, and the message in my book about being kinder to others and to yourself was something that could hopefully inspire people who read the book too!