Have you ever read a thriller book that eerily parallels a situation in real life? Maybe you see on the news that your “quiet neighbor” down the street just got arrested for drug trafficking or beating his coworker into a coma…after finishing a novel that was strangely reminiscent of this same event.
While most of us read thrillers, suspense novels, and mystery books to escape from reality and get a fiction fix, sometimes truth, if not stranger than fiction, is equally frightening.
When I wrote the first draft of Epidemic in 2007, I was working full-time at a boring job as an administrative assistant. I wrote before work and sometimes on my lunch break for my mental health as much as my desire to someday see a book with my name on it in print.
The Beginning of Epidemic
Like any good story, the idea for the book started with the most mundane request: attend a pandemic response training for business owners. My boss wasn’t able to go at the last minute and sent me in her place.
As I sat in the training, watching the slideshow and listening to the experts describe what has become an all-too-familiar reality for us today, a little voice in my head asked, “What if? What if this kind of thing happened here, in this small town in rural Vermont?”
My imagination took over from there and five years later, Epidemic was published.
Friends and readers have been emailing, texting, and sending me messages on Instagram saying, “It’s creepy how much of your book has come to life with COVID-19,” and I’m still struggling to wrap my brain around it.
Vermont Novel’s Eerie Parallel to Current Pandemic
Following an outside-the-box book launch in the Vermont Maple Festival parade in 2012, (photo below), I started work on the next novel. Sure, I hoped my first would be a huge success, but knew statistically speaking that was unlikely.
Now, when I drive down Main Street though and see the signs (“Curbside pickup only!” “Free delivery, call (802) 555-1234”), and people on the streets wearing face masks and maintaining the socially acceptable 6-feet distance, I still can’t quite believe it’s all real.
And when I hear the news and see the images from other, bigger towns and cities and the struggle of others, I want to cry.
A New Normal
Instead, I’m trying to keep life as normal as possible–for my own sanity and my family’s sake. Grocery trip once a week, get outdoors as much as possible, keep the news off most of the time, keep making healthy foods, continue being frugal because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
I call my parents and check in with friends via text. And of course, take hot baths, go for long walks, pray, and read great fiction to help me forget for a little while at least, how uncertain everything is right now.
I hope wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re doing today that you’re safe and healthy. And remember that, like everything else in this life, this too shall pass.
What about you? How are you doing with all of this and what great fiction is giving you respite from the stress? Please share in the comments.
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