In 2002, Tom Lonergan wrote a book called Heartbreak Hill. Subtitled "The Boston Marathon Thriller," the novel was about a terrorist plot to set off a series of bombs during the race, killing and wounding spectators and runners.
When Lonergan learned of the real bombing, he told The Huffington Post via email on Tuesday, "I had an instant, visceral reaction to the events. 'Oh my God, just as I predicted.'"
In his self-published novel, right-wing American extremists threaten to explode a series of bombs along the marathon route, only to be foiled by a homicide detective. Lonergan had the idea for the plot while running the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, during which, he said, "I feared a bomb would be triggered at any time that day."
"I ran myself well clear of the finish line before stopping," he said. "The Boston Marathon was far too compelling a stage for the wacko dramatists of our times to ignore."
Lonergan, now retired and working part time as a museum docent in Nantucket, Mass., ran the Boston Marathon 17 times from 1983 to 1999. He said he wrote the novel after the 9/11 attacks "because I thought the message ought to be told."
He said that he would not withdraw his book from sale. Heartbreak Hill, he said, "represents my finest feelings for the marathon, the city of Boston and the sport of running."
He said the bombing is especially troubling because "I could not help feeling as I saw the news reports on Monday that someone, somehow may have been inspired by my fiction."
Though the book has a note of prescience in its plot line, it seems unlikely that the real perpetrators got the idea from Heartbreak Hill. Lonergan self-published the book through the company iUniverse. When asked if he had sold many copies, he replied, "Not many at all."
Lonergan's novel takes its place alongside cover art for the rap album "Party Music" by The Coup as an instance of art eerily foreshadowing tragic, real-life events. The record cover, prepared in June 2001, showed an exploding World Trade Center.
UPDATE: We've received many negative comments about the author using the marathon as an excuse for publicity. We first contacted the author ourselves, after we read about the book on Slate.com, and invited him to respond to our questions and to write a blogpost. Also, we included a link to his book on Amazon as context to the story. He did not request these links or any publicity for his work.