Honestly, I started it before the beginning of 2020. My initial outline involved my heroine infiltrating an underground cabal selling medical research to find a cure for an ailing child. But, it was missing something—not enough conflict and high enough stakes. So what if she steals vital information and is chased by the bad guys? It’s been done before. I needed something unique, something with really high stakes.
Then it hit me. What if the illness my heroine sought to cure was a heretofore unknown virus that didn’t just affect one person but the entire planet? And not just a flu-like illness but a universally fatal illness that caused a small subset of patients to morph into near supernatural creatures.
There, I had it. The stakes were raised about as high as they could be: solve the problem or face extinction. With outline in hand I did some research on epidemics, the CDC, and viruses and began to write.
As I started writing it happened. The Covid-19 pandemic began. I was writing about a fictional pandemic during an actual one.
Let me stop right here to say that I’m not bragging that I in any way foreknew that Covid was coming. It was a coincidence. I was as shocked by the turn of events as anyone else.
Now, the burning question was should I stop writing about a fictional pandemic during an actual pandemic? After all, real people were getting sick and dying.
At the time I was working part time as a hospitalist. The VA hospital I worked in was not on the frontlines of the fight against Covid, but still the risk always loomed as we were required to don N-95 masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves to see new admissions.
I asked a couple of physician colleagues what they thought about me continuing to write after sharing the storyline. Both were intrigued by the plot and responded with an enthusiastic yes, I should continue writing.
My writing in a strange way helped me cope with the uncertainty and isolation that accompanied the early days of the pandemic. I suppose a way of facing your fears is to write about them. This is why journaling is considered a healthy way to cope with stress and anxiety.
The compelling theme—love and sacrifice—was something I wanted to explore in the context of a pandemic. This also drove me to continue to write.
Lastly, the precedent of famous writers played a part. Daniel Defoe and Albert Camus both wrote eloquently about plagues.
I recently completed my novel, entitled THE PROXIMA PLAGUE. It was a wild exhausting ride chronicling the tragedy and triumphs of my heroine caught up in a pandemic all the way to the fantastical denouement. Check it out. I think you might like it.