All of my books include a disclaimer that similarities to real persons are coincidental. This is pretty much a no-brainer for the Hunter in the Dark series as it takes place in a fictional universe, and mostly unnecessary for the Troll Warriors of Sheepbane, because whatever happens in my dreams is too weird to have any bearing on real life, even if my subconscious somehow keeps involving Kevin Sorbo.
The Unbound is where these things get more important, however. As Urban Fantasy, it takes place in (a close parallel to) our world, so similarities to real persons are almost unavoidable. In Repulsion, Thymen’s mother Christine compares Rob to Matthew Broderick when he was younger, for instance, and I bet more than one of my high school teachers can find parallels with teachers described in Benediction.
However, for Incursion, I’ve written a scene that involves an actual store in Hengelo. It’s a store I’ve visited on quite a few occasions, and the scene describes the general ambiance, and mentions the owner by (first) name.
This is not a coincidental similarity, and as such, the simple disclaimer seems inadequate to me. I’ve given this quite some thought, and the proper course of actions to me were either to scrap the scene (it’s not instrumental to the plot, but it expands on the background of one of the characters), or to ask the store owner’s permission.
I opted for the latter, and the owner’s response was quite positive. I’ll be dropping by the store tomorrow to discuss the specifics of the scene, and ask the owner for some input to make the scene more fitting with his character, and how he’d respond to the situation.
For any writers reading this: have you ever dealt with a similar situation in your writing? And for anybody with a well-developed sense of right and wrong: what would you have done in this situation?