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.