I’m half way through writing my second novel and, despite the devastation around the world to our lives and our economies (and the cancellation of my debut book tour), I’m staying hopeful.
I’m hopeful that there will be a medical cure for this terrible coronavirus, with the latest tactics focusing on testing existing drugs while our global researchers also go hard to develop a vaccine.
I’m hopeful that in the meantime we can all use this period to refocus our priorities. Priorities around work, learning, family, ambition, passions, hobbies and loved-ones. And I’m hopeful that books and stories will keep us connected.
By writing and reading stories, the true and the fictional, we share our lives and if ever there was a time to share our lives it is now, during this frightening world of separation.
As our governments increasingly place restrictions on our movements, I want to reinforce that these measures are not about isolation, they are about distance. They are about physical distance and only physical distance.
We can still be as socially connected as we want. In fact, we may even become more socially connected as we bundle ourselves together in new ways. So, I’m on a mission to ban the terms ‘social distancing’ and ‘social isolation’ and instead describe it as physical distancing.
But, as a writer in the times of coronavirus, it is challenging to keep going. After years of hard work, my debut crime novel Where The Truth Lies (Simon & Schuster) was caught in the immediate onslaught. Shortly after it was released, my book tour and promotion for the novel was cancelled. And, as we all know, you only get one chance to be a debut author.
And from my personal point of view, I also don’t write for myself. I never have and I can’t imagine ever doing so. I only write to pass on the story to a reader. If there were no readers I would not write. Instead, I would keep my stories in my imagination for myself. So writing, for me, is all about sharing my stories.
Of course, in this current crisis we can still share through downloading e-books and audio versions and by good old snail mail through online purchases — this is our new book buying reality.
But the reality for me as a writer has never seemed more stark. Those dystopian novels, those science fiction scenarios, those terrible crimes by people in desperate situations are no longer pure works of fiction. We have all seen the footage of people fighting each other in supermarkets, hoarders taking more than their fair share and people risking other peoples’ lives by not following the restrictions. This type of realistic crime makes writing my second novel harder.
I worry if I should include these physical distance rules in my storyline. I worry if the books being written today should reflect this time capsule of contagion — or not. I worry if I have the mindset to include the corona fallout in my new novel because, if I do then, then I will I have to examine it very closely — too closely — instead of just escaping from it for several hours a day by sticking to my current storyline.
I also wonder if readers of the future will want to be reminded of these times? Or if readers of the future will demand to have these times document in fiction as well as the news stories of the day. As a career journalist, of hard business facts and reporting about many of the world’s biggest financial disasters, my instinct is that these times must be included in both non-fiction and fiction. The virus is already part of our shared histories.
But, then, as a debut novelist, I’m not sure of my place in the publishing or fiction storytelling world anymore in these strange times. The emotional and financial impact from the cancellation of my book tour, while the correct and non-personal decision, somehow it still makes me doubt myself.
I don’t have the answers to these worries as I write this blog in the time of corona, and as I persist with completing my second novel, but I know and I hope that sharing our stories, whatever form and format those stories take, will always keep us connected.
Where the Truth Lies by Karina Kilmore is available in print, e-book and audio book.
Click here for a podcast interview with Karina by Good Reading Magazine.
Click here for more about Karina.