So here we are, emerging blinking into the sunlight. Or, to be accurate, the raging gales and ice. Still, we’re learning to speak again and edge towards some sort of normality. God, how we’ve longed for human contact! Not just our nears and dears, but the chatting in shops, the thanking of bus drivers, the fleeting flirtatious glances with a passer-by – all the substance of life we took for granted.
As I’ve said before, us writers have had it easy. We’re solitary creatures and work alone anyway, nobody’s going to shed a tear for us. And many writers I know have had a rather happy lockdown – no phone-calls, no commitments, and just their characters for company. I’ve told them to keep quiet about it. Because for most people it’s been hell.
I’ve also written how, if one’s writing a contemporary novel, the pandemic is a problem. Does one acknowledge it? If so, wouldn’t it engulf the story? Besides, we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, we’re far too close to it, and a novelist needs a certain distance simply to make sense of things.
For this reason I decided to set my latest book, “The Black Dress”, in 2018, and end it with the outbreak of Covid. One can’t ignore the vast elephant in the room. But I also wonder if anyone would actually want to read about it. In the future, I’m sure, there will be many novels about the pandemic, but not yet…not now.
But as the UK opens up, so do the literary festivals. How we’ve missed them! So I’m already signed up for the perennially popular Ways With Words in Dartington, this July (which is when “The Black Dress” is published) and several more that I’ll tell you about when they’re firmed up. And meanwhile I’m now back on Facebook, writing my own stuff as well as the publishers, so do have a look.
And of course do get in touch, I love to hear from you, firstname.lastname@example.org