Wednesday, May 20, 2020

This Changes Everything

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Trust me :-) , this is what every single author on the planet is talking about. It is the riveting unanswerable question, the driving burning dilemma, the crazy-making decision that is affecting manuscripts, changing thought processes, and generally making authors go nuts.

I just read Reece Hirsch’s terrific Dark Tomorrow-what a chilling title, right? And it’s a true page-turner. And now, he’s offering us an opportunity to discuss and life-changing question.  

And so fascinating--Reece has figured out a truly perfect way to think about it.




This Changes Everything


            My new thriller Dark Tomorrow was just published, but I’m already well underway on my next book.  And I’m finding it strange writing a mystery/thriller in the time of COVID-19.  All sorts of new questions are arising because the pandemic has changed everything.

            For example, if I set my new book in the present, how do I not address the elephant in the room – COVID-19?  For novels set in the winter or spring of 2020 (and probably the coming year) then the pandemic is an inescapable reality. I’ve made the decision that my new book is going to be set approximately in the present, but in 2019 before I knew what a coronavirus was.  

            There will be undoubtedly be a spate of pandemic thrillers in the coming months and years, and books that explore the social, cultural and economic fallout from the crisis.  But that is not the sort of book that I’m setting out to write at the moment.  Actually, I’m finding it a relief to imagine a world where the coronavirus does not exist.  If I set the book in 2020, COVID-19 would just end of dominating everything, just as it dominates our news coverage and our day-to-day lives.

            The plot conventions of a mystery/thriller just don’t work the same way in this strange time.  For example:

            The Locked-Room Mystery.  Locked room mysteries are clear violations of social distancing guidelines.  If you attempted one, the primary mystery would be which character had tested positive for COVID-19 before the doors were locked.

            The Shining, Part Deux.  A family is isolated for the winter in a remote mountain resort, with plenty of food and more room than they know what to do with.  No one is around for miles and miles. No masked Door Dash or Instacart drivers on their doorstep.  What’s so scary about that?  Scary is living in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city.

            The Romantic Interest.  How do two people fall in love during a pandemic?  Very carefully.  But there are new ways for a couple to meet cute while vying for the last package of antibacterial wipes in the grocery store. Or maybe they meet when they dial in to the wrong Zoom meeting.

            But some tried and true devices still work.  You’re alone in the house.  The phone rings and it’s a heavy-breathing call from a killer.  Then you realize  -- the call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!  And you don’t know which rooms he’s been in!  You may have to disinfect the entire house!  And why do you still have a landline?

            Of course, with every obstacle, there are also new opportunities.  The pandemic creates new possibilities for the heist thriller.  A crew of mask-wearing bank robbers wouldn’t attract any attention on the street these days.  They would draw scrutiny (and criticism) only if they took the masks off.

            The last major crisis faced by our nation was the 2008 housing crisis and the ensuing recession.  

While it was devastating and impacted millions of Americans, it didn’t produce very many memorable works of art.  There was 99 Homes, the Andrew Garfield/Michael Shannon movie about a home eviction business in Florida.  And there was Too Big to Fail, but that was a docudrama.  Probably the best film to come out of the Great Recession was Hell or High Water, which turned that time’s economic desperation into a modern-day bank robber story.

Somehow, I suspect that COVID-19 is going to be different.  The event is just too massive and its impact too visceral.  I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there right now concocting compelling pandemic stories, but I don’t think I’ll be one of them.

            I’m setting my next book in a very particular, remote location that I’ve never visited.  I had planned to take a research trip to the place, but now I don’t know if that’s going to be possible.  I have no idea when I’ll be able to get on a plane again.  Fortunately, there’s always Google Earth.

            And what about COVID-19’s impact on readers?  Are you finding relief in getting lost in novels?  Or is the stress of this difficult time making it difficult to concentrate?

            Whether you’re a writer or a reader, leave me a comment if you’d like to share how COVID-19 has changed the landscape for you. One thing that has not changed is that the mystery/thriller community remains a wonderfully supportive bunch.

HANK: I’ll admit it. It’s—distracting. I just heard the amazing Scott Turow say the same thing—that it’s as if some scratchy skippy record was incessantly in the background of everything...impossible to ignore and relentlessly distracting.

I am doing my best, and persevering. As Jonathan says—It’s your job. And there you have it. Reality.  

How about you, reds and readers? What do you want to read or write?


Reece Hirsch is the author of six thrillers that draw upon his background as a privacy attorney. His first book, The Insider, was a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Dark Tomorrow, the second book in a series featuring FBI cybercrime investigator Lisa Tanchik, was published by Thomas & Mercer on May 12. 

His three prior books, The Adversary, Intrusion, and Surveillance, all feature former Department of Justice cybercrime prosecutor Chris Bruen. Reece is a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm and co-chair of its privacy and cybersecurity practice. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation (www.VADFoundation.org). He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and an ewok-like Brussels Griffon. His website is www.reecehirsch.com.




Dark Tomorrow

FBI special agent and cybercrime specialist Lisa Tanchik faces a deadly threat in this white-knuckle thriller.
FBI special agent Lisa Tanchik is skilled at handling cyber threats, having recently taken down a Dark Web black market worth billions. But ruthless hacker NatalyaX always seems to be a step ahead.
The government calls on Tanchik’s expertise when an email attachment causes a fatal seizure at US Cyber Command. But before she can get her feet under her, the entire East Coast goes dark. A sinister plan is unfolding before her eyes—and no one knows who’s behind it.
Tanchik plunges into chaos to hunt down the true source of the attacks. Close dealings with shadowy figures both online and off expose her to extraordinary danger as the country teeters on the brink of catastrophe.
A soldier on the front line of a cyberwar, Tanchik must nullify the threat before it deals a death blow to America’s institutions—and puts millions of lives in jeopardy.

Reece is donating double his royalties for Dark Tomorrow during May to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is helping to ensure food banks can feed those in need, including children who rely on school meals to eat.

Praise for Dark Tomorrow:

“Taut, terrifying and intensely realistic – with an unstoppable race to the breathtaking finish. A compelling inside look into a world of cyberwar most of us can barely imagine – and the talented Reece Hirsch reveals harsh truths about the dark web that should haunt us all.”  -- (JRW’s own) Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally best-selling author of The Murder List

“At the start of Hirsch’s nail-biting sequel to 2019’s Black Nowhere, FBI special agent Lisa Tanchik is called to a murder scene in Columbia, Md., that has the m.o. of NatalyaX, the hacker she has been tracking for a year. The action builds to a surprising twist ending. Chronically depressed and continually hung over, Lisa is a flawed heroine readers are sure to root for. Hopefully, she’ll be back soon.” Publishers Weekly


88 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your new book, Reece . . . “Dark Tomorrow” sounds quite intriguing and I’m looking forward to reading it . . . .

    Forced quarantine is good for reading some of the many books in my teetering to-be-read pile, but I must confess that there are times when I simply can’t sit still and just read. I feel a sort of restlessness or a nagging that there’s something else I ought to be doing [like going to work, perhaps] that makes me jittery for a bit. [So I head for the kitchen and bake something . . . good for the restlessness, not so good for the waistline]. But it’s tough and being in quarantine is really getting old . . . .

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    1. Yes, I agree...it's difficult to concentrate. There's always the nagging feeling --a correct one--that something is very wrong. ANd yes, old...but the alternative is worse, I keep having to remember. xooo

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    2. Joan, I'm doing the same thing! I was doing so well on my no-sugar diet until I started comfort baking...

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    3. Thanks, Joan! I completely agree with you. For some reason, I'm finding audiobooks a little easier to absorb during these distracted and distracting times.

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  2. Thanks for the laughs describing those plots.

    I am using books to escape what is going on around us. I don't need it in my fiction, and I hope it doesn't pop up in my series any time soon. In another few years, that might be the time to revisit it via fiction, but right not I'm not interested.

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    1. Yeah, I'm more content in a non-covid place..xo

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    2. Thanks, Mark. I'm with you and Hank on this. With some national crises, it takes years for popular culture to catch up. They didn't start releasing Vietnam War movies until years after that war was over.

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  3. Reece, you have certainly hit upon a hot button topic today. Just the other day, I read an exchange on FB between some authors about whether the pandemic should be included in the fiction books now being written, or those set during 2020. The author who posted the discussion was adamant that all authors should include it and was rather harsh about those who might decide not to. Others were unsure if it was what readers would want to read. When you state that "I'm finding it a relief to imagine a world where the coronavirus does not exist," I think you made an important point about that. I'm not sure I will want to read about this depressing period anytime soon. It must be quite stressful for authors right now in deciding how to handle the inclusion or lack of in stories for future consumption. My reading currently is an escape from thinking about COVID-19 and other news items, such as the government.

    Speaking of my reading. It's been off. Hard to focus. Hank, Scott Turow's description is right on target. A scratchy record indeed. My review writing and blogging is completely disrupted. But, I am still able to read and write some reviews, and I have more hope for it getting better than I did a couple of weeks ago. I think I've stopped being so hard on myself about keeping up, and that in itself is helping me to get better. And, Reece, you are so right about the mystery/crime community remaining a great source of support and comfort during this mess.

    Thanks for visiting the Reds today, Reece. Your book sounds thrilling, and Lisa Tanchik sounds like an amazing character. You are to be highly commended, Reece, for your double royalty donations during May to Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. What a thoughtful and generous act.

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    1. I followed some of that same FB exchange, Kathy. I think to say EVERY author should include the pandemic isn't fair to the authors or the readers of the world. There is no one topic that everyone is interested in. We're all different in our tastes and needs. Personally, I NEED escape from reality now more than ever. I deeply respect the author who started that discussion but don't agree with her on this point.

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    2. That's quite dogmatic, requiring everyone to think and act the same way. The very idea of requiring authors to include this debacle in their own writing seems pretty authoritarian and rigid. Nonfiction is the place for that.

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    3. Suppose, like Annette, your book is set in a very rural area, where the coronavirus hasn't hit very hard? It may be a concern for an EMT like her character, Zoe, but possibly not a controlling factor in other people's lives. I can imagine workarounds. Out here in Texas there are rural and remote counties where they still have zero cases.

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    4. OH, I'll have to look for that exchange. Every book written in WW2 wasn't about WW2, after all. Message me to tell me where, okay? (I could guess, but I won't..oxo)

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    5. Thanks so much, Kathy! I think I saw that conversation that you're referring to. I think authors need to tell the stories that they most want to tell -- period. Given the nature of the pandemic, it would be hard to write a book about something else with the pandemic in the background -- because COVID-19 is impossible to ignore. But I think sometimes artists create works that have a crisis as subtext even if they're studiously ignoring it. Remember all those comedies that came out of the Depression with everyone in Manhattan penthouses in tuxedoes and gowns?

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    6. I should have realized that others here would have seen the FB discussion, too, so I want to add that, like Annette, I have great respect for the author who started the discussion. I just don’t agree that everyone writing fiction now has an obligation to include the pandemic or that readers want it. Of course, I also see the dilemma of authors setting a book during this time period and trying to make normal out of this crazy time.

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  4. Congratulations on the new release, Reece! And I love your take on the different plot options.

    To include Covid or not to include Covid...that is the question. I'm choosing the NOT category for now. It's too soon, too fresh, too raw. I can't even watch my favorite TV show reruns that deal with bio terrorism right now, even when I already know the heroes triumph at the end.

    Having said that, I'm currently working on two different mystery fiction projects and am debating whether to even mention it as something in the past. Maybe by the time I get to final revisions, I'll have a clearer idea of what the new normal will look like. My crystal ball sure isn't telling me a thing right now.

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    1. I feel that way, too.and my editor has told me--just write what you're writing. We'll know later how to allude to it, or include it. But she says--"Your books are in a separate fictional world."

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    2. Thanks, Annette! I agree with you and Hank. One thing I'm finding interesting about the response to Dark Tomorrow is that some readers are finding that the crisis that I portray (the East Coast shut down by a cyber attack) seems relevant to what we're gong through now.

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  5. Reece, I met you at Dallas Bouchercon and enjoyed reading Black Nowhere, and am looking forward to reading Dark Tomorrow.

    Like Kathy, I have had trouble reading the past 2 months. If I was home all day, I could normally read 1-2 books/day. But COVID-19 caused serious fatigue and I was often just wiped out after doing the basics every day. So I am well behind my normal schedule of reading and reviewing ARCs and have missed deadlines for the first time ever. This really bothered me for a while, and that my usual salvation (reading) was not there for me while in self-isolation.

    As for whether you (and other authors) should include COVID-19 in your current manuscripts, that is the question I have seen discussed in several other forums. Frankly, I am not interested in reading a pandemic thriller right now. If the book you are writing (or planning to write) is set in the present day, I don't see how you can ignore including how society and everyday life for the characters in your book have been affected by COVID-19. It will be interested to see how different authors approach this issue which, as you say, has changed everything.

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    1. Yes, and I know some authors are setting their books in the real world of say, 2019. And I could also make the argument nor a fictional non-covid world. MY new book, for instance, that comes out in August. Hits right int he pandemic, but of course it's not mentioned. ANd I don't think it's one bit of a problem. But I guess--we shall see!

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    2. Hank, I agree that books being released this year or 2021 would not have to be set in a COVID-19 world. But after that? How important are the pandemic's effects on what is in happening in the book? Not at all, somewhat or prominently?

      As a reader, I wonder if I will notice big differences between books written/set pre-pandemic or post-pandemic. Time will tell....

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    3. Hi Grace -- It's nice to connect with you again! Glad you enjoyed Black Nowhere. I think we all have to make an extra effort to carve out time to do the things that keep us sane during these times, whether it's exercise or reading. But I'm finding it easier said than done, too.

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  6. Great points, Reece. I started writing my latest book at the start of March and might finish the first draft this week, so I've been quarantined the whole time. My contemporary series take place in the unspecified present. This book won't be out until late 2021, I think. I made the decision, which I have mentioned here at some point, to drop a few casual references to the pandemic having happened at an unspecified time in the past. Things like, "Adele had been one of the first to jump back into hugging once it was allowed," and "He didn't extend his hand for a handshake, a nicety we'd all abandoned during the pandemic." Just an acknowledgement without making it the central topic. And because I have faith we WILL get back to hugging and handshaking. ;^)

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    1. I think that is a wonderful way to handle it, Edith. Not ignoring it but moving on.

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    2. Thanks, Judi.

      I'm also not telling anybody else what to do in their writing. Ever.

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    3. Yes, I hear this method from a lot of people..acknowledging, and moving on. It all depends on the book. And the author!

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    4. Congratulations on finishing your first draft, Edith! I like your approach, and I sincerely hope this is something we can look back on by late 2021!

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  7. This dilemma harks back to the digital revolution issue: place your story at a time when devices like cellphones are ubiquitous, or before they existed?

    I honestly don't care. A good story is a good story, and "rules" about writing certain events seem awfully intrusive to the creative process to me. Isn't that what fiction is, after all? A completely made-up world? After all, how believable is it that Shelly the caterer finds dead bodies (usually two) at every job she works? I mean, seriously.

    I've been reading a lot, although I can't deal with anything heavy. Our book club read an Ursula K LeGuin recently, a dystopian tale, and I completely opted out. I did not even want to hear it discussed, let alone wallow in the book. Worst of all, this was the second story of a cataclysm in a row. Bah. At least in murder mysteries justice is served at the end.

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    1. I surprised myself by binge reading the Shetland series recently, Karen - darker than I usually go - but Ann Cleeves' writing is so brilliant, I didn't care!

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    2. I should put those on my list. I had to stop watching the series, though. The human trafficking story was way too horrifying for me.

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    3. I don't remember anything about human trafficking, Karen.

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    4. It's in the 4th and 5th seasons of the show.

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    5. I need to go back and watch the series now I have read the books. I think the trafficking is NOT in the books.

      I also meant to add, Reece (now that we've completely hijacked your post, LOL), that my son fell in love just before the lockdown. He works and lives on an eco-farm in Puerto Rico. He and his new sweetie have had long phone conversations, they facetime and watch the same movie, and next month she's coming to the farm to quarantine for two weeks and spend the rest of it with him! They're having their old-fashioned courting before jumping into more intimate activities. I love it.

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    6. EXACTLY, Karen! What people will believe in some books is almost s silly/unlikely as a plague hitting, right? Seriously. Aliens, zombies, magic? Fictional people in non-ficiton realities, like Winds of War and Ragtime? Chet the dog? All wonderful, and yet, impossible except in imagination.

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    7. Right? It is so dumb to insist on exactitude in fiction, in my opinion. If you weren't suspending disbelief in the first place, you're reading the wrong genre.

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    8. Thanks, Karen! As someone who writes thrillers that often deal with technology, I've gotten adjusted to the idea that every story is historical fiction of one sort or another because times and technologies change and references become dated (often in ways you never expected when you were writing). I'm really enjoying writing a book right now that's a sort of locked room mystery where the outside world is shut out.

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    9. And now, as a pal of mine realized, every book being written right now is speculative fiction.

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    10. Reece, I guess, as you have, authors need to be nimble enough in their creativity to adjust to the new normal.

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  8. Congratulations on your new release.

    Leslie Budewitz posted a copy of her blog on FB suggesting that writers record their emotions and sensory experiences during the Pandemic for future use. I took her idea a step further: I'm free-writing the plot of the next book in my series which should take place during the Pandemic. I'll save the images and emotions and start the actual next book during the summer following the spring Pandemic, with references to what happened and how life has changed. Characters permanently changed by the Pandemic, but in the near past, not the present.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! That sounds like a really interesting book you're writing. Have you read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel? She portrayed a pandemic and then skipped 20 years in the future to set most of the story there.

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  9. Reece, love the way you reframe the mystery tropes in light of the pandemic.

    Ok, so I want to put a seance in a book - now I can’t?

    People who are dogmatic about it really have no idea what the future will look like ... or how long it takes to write and get a book published.

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    1. SO agree. No one can know, so let's just go ahead as planned. ::shaking head::

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    2. Thanks, Hallie! As usual, I agree with Hank. I say write that seance scene. Every book exists in its own little world anyway.

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  10. Congratulations for Dark Tomorrow, Reece and for offering royalties helping to ensure food banks. Placing your next book just before the pandemic seems a good idea.
    As a reader, presently, I prefer to read light stories. Before coming to the Mysteries, I read a lot of historical novels. A combination of the two seems a good idea for me right now. My reading tend toward escaping the crisis for a couple of hours.

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    1. Escaping! Which is a lovely thought. I am very wary of reading pandemic books, and would not choose one.

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    2. Thank you, Danielle! A historical novel is sounding pretty good right about now ....

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  11. Welcome to JRW's Reece. Dark Tomorrow is zipping to my Kindle right how. I read mysteries to escape the world where justice does not always prevail. I have a hard time reading horror disguised as mystery. (I want to know there is a body -- would prefer not to know about the decomp). I do need some references that everyone would know i.e Katrina, for authenticity. I think it would be very hard to have a location like New Jersey, or NYC set in 2020 without mentioning the pandemic.
    It would be like writing about WWI and not mentioning the Battle of the Somme.

    Now off to start Dark Tomorrow. Enjoy your day with Jungle Reds.

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    1. There are so many individual ways of thinking about it! SO fascinating!

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    2. Thanks for downloading Dark Tomorrow, Coralee! I hope you enjoy it. You're right that every writer has to decide how close their fictional world is going to come to the world that we're living in right now. Readers will accept some things, but won't accept others ...

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  12. I think it's hard to write about the pandemic now, because we don't know how this particular story is going to end. We don't know if everybody will eventually get it, or if it will skip over some communities or families. Will it go away with the summer heat, or come back with a vengeance when everybody leaves isolation? We just don't know. Any book written now, based on certain assumptions, might be completely wrong a year from now, when it is finally released.

    I can see ways to work the pandemic into a story, however. Charles Todd did it brilliantly with one of the Bess Crawford books, when there were so many bodies from the war and the Spanish Flu that one murder victim almost went unnoticed. Maybe you could slip a spare dead guy into one of the NYC morgue trucks.

    When everybody on the block is out on the balcony, singing encouragement to each other, two people who had never met before could see each other, be intrigued, but have the vast gulf of the unsafe street between them, hindering their romance.

    Or, when someone goes into lockdown, she might amuse herself (or go all self-righteous) by watching her neighbors. Who complies? Who defies the isolation guidelines? Who just took her husband's body out with the week's trash?

    If the pandemic gets overwhelmingly horrible, as it did in Italy and in New York City, people may not want to talk about it at all. My grandparents lived through the 1917-18 Spanish Flu pandemic. I know it hit their small rural communities because I've seen the overwhelming number of 1917 headstones in the family cemeteries. They never talked about it. Even when, as an adult, I asked them about it, they had no stories for me. One of my grandfathers was in the Army, at Fort Dix at a time when they were stacking bodies like cordwood, and all his Army stories were the funny ones. I have no oral history from my family about the flu epidemic, and I come from a family of storytellers.

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    1. Your book sounds terrific, Reece. I wish you lots of success with it. It sounds like just the sort of story I would enjoy reading while I'm isolating myself. I have bought so many new books since the lockdown, Amazon is now showing me ads for bookshelves. My TBR pile is going down, but my "how to I sell these 'plague-time books back' stacks may overwhelm my kitchen!

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    2. I read a fascinating article touching on that--that there is what the author called "pandemic amnesia" about the 1918 flu. VERY few books written about it--because no one wanted to think about it any more. Remember--after the flu came the wild abandon of the roaring twenties. And that kind of makes it more understandable, doesn't it?

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    3. Gigi, I think the lack of story telling by those who lived through it isn't uncommon. My mother's parents went through some very tough experiences in the Great Depression, and the only way I knew about them were from what my older aunts could remember and some family letters. They never talked about the bad times.

      I doubt we'll be the same when it comes to the pandemic, if just because we have an instant historical record saved on social media, but I don't hear anyone expressing a wish to settle in and read Covid-19 literature. 'Ronalit?

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    4. Thanks for the good wishes, Gigi! I think you're already thinking of some great ways to draw upon the pandemic in a story. I'm sure for every writer who wants to ignore COVID-19, there will be another who is inspired to craft a story around it.

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  13. Congratulations on the new book Reece!

    I still find that, for the most part anyway, reading lets me escape the relentless news cycle about the coronavirus. It is much easier when part of the reading I've been doing takes me to Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age and the adventures of the greatest Cimmerian of all time, Conan.

    It may effectively make all books kind of an alternate history to write a thriller set in present day and not mention coronavirus but like you said, including it just takes over the story. I would prefer to either have it ignored or have the books set a couple years ahead (2022?) where you can mention it briefly as being in the past. Otherwise, I just don't want to read about it in my fiction. I get enough of it in reality.

    And I agree that Hell or High Water was a fantastic film.

    Like other people I have my moments when I just can't focus on reading so I find other ways to occupy myself. I watch TV or listen to music. I go out to run necessary errands or get some takeout for lunch or dinner. Then I work my way back to reading.

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    1. Oh, I'll have to go look for Hell or High Water. Jonathan will like it, too.

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    2. Thanks, Jay. I love that -- Robert E. Howard's Conan books would be an excellent escape from our current reality!

      Hank -- I think you're going to love Hell or High Water. It's one of my favorite films of the past few years, and it has a great performance from Jeff Bridges.

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    3. We'll watch it tonight! Hurray for the technology that lets us do that...

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  14. Congrats on your new book, Reece! DARK TOMORROW sounds, well, thrilling! And the title seems prescient for the moment, doesn't it? I was thinking that cyber thrillers have an added twist right now, when so many of us are doing everything online - shopping, working, socializing, volunteering. It's as if we've collectively taken another giant step toward the always-wired future envisioned by the cyberpunk authors. And with so many people and businesses realizing we don't need to meet in person for work or discussions, I doubt we'll be returning to where we were.

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    1. Thanks, Julia! One theme that I keep coming back to in my thrillers is how this connected world we're living in can bring scary things right to our doorstep, or our inbox.

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    2. Hey, Julia, I just finished Bujold's "Penric's Travels." Good stuff.

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  15. My life hasn't changed much, as I was already working from home for both jobs. The main difference for me is that I see this pandemic as an opportunity for people to realize in a substantial way that we are one race -- the human race -- and one world, all dependent upon one another. We're all vulnerable to the same virus, but because of this, there are many wonderful ways in which people are working together now regardless of nationality -- not that people weren't doing this before, but not on such a scale and not so very visible to everyone. Cooperation is so much more fruitful than confrontation. I hope people can take this lesson to heart for the future...

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    1. Well said, Barbara! I also feel very fortunate that my two jobs (practicing law and writing novels) are both things that I can do from home.

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    2. If people will just learn to cooperate...grr.

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  16. Welcome Reece, and congrats on the new book.

    I'm reading but taking longer than my usual two days to get thru a book. And I'm rereading lots of books as opposed to buying a new one. I just read that book sales are down 8% compared to March 2019. That's alarming. Not sure if that is in dollars or numbers of books, not necessarily on the same gradient. I'm seeing so many e books that I paid $13-$15 for, now selling for pennies. Or free on Book Bub. I guess this is the digital equivalent of remainder?

    My life has changed so very much. For the four months before the mid-March lockdown, I was going next door, case managing for my neighbor who was on hospice. One of the things he did before he died was plan his funeral -- a funeral that hasn't happened yet and may never. But I've not been in that house since March 13. I haven't hugged anyone but Julie, I've watched my little black dog die, shed more tears than I have since I don't know when, and I have no idea when or if I'll ever seen my children and grandchildren again. And later this morning I'm having a root canal. Yiles, do I feel sorry for myself or what? Get a grip, Ann.

    Today we plan a "driveway" meeting with a friend, a BYOB and snacks party, complete with social distancing and masks. Whoop-de-doo


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    1. Thanks for the good wishes, Ann. I'm so sorry to hear that you've been going through tough times. I've heard some encouraging reports about books sales in recent months. I hope they're true. Hope you had a nice "driveway" meeting with your friend!

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    2. Keep us posted on the root canal! Ahhh. One day at a time, right? All we can do. ANd we are always here for you!

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    3. Hang in there, Ann! The sun will come out --sing it with me! -- Tomorrow! Virtual hugs from me.

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    4. Root canal is done and the most painful part was the $775 it cost!

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  17. I'm the mood for cozies. Dorothy Cannall is how I got through 9/11. In my head I was in a nice little English village where the only think I had to worry about washow Ellie was going to catch the murderer. Hmm. I think I'll go visit Ellie when I finish my current read (Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson). Oh, historical mysteries are also good. No COVID-19 there.

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    1. Maybe this is a good time to revisit Agatha Christie?

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    2. I've done that, Reece! SUCH a good idea! I just read Murder on the Orient Express again, and it is still great. I was STILL surprised and in awe of the storytelling.

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  18. Welcome to Jungle Reds, Reece. I wonder if writers are imagining what life will be like AFTER the COVID-19 pandemic will be over?

    For me, I wear a mask because even if I am not showing any symptoms, I could still pass on the virus without knowing it. Better safe than sorry!

    Diana

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    1. Thanks, Diana! I used to think it was strange to see pedestrians in Japan wearing masks. I think that's going to be a much more common sight here even after the pandemic is over.

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    2. Yeah..and I'm also interested in that we're thinking about AFTER, not..whether there's an after. I think that's a major thought change. Crossing fingers.

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  19. Welcome to Jungle Reds, Reece, and thanks for giving me a good chuckle this morning with your possible quarantine plots! And thanks for tacking the Covid-19 in books issue. So many of us who write contemporary books are struggling with it. My book in progress has to be set pre-Covid, because of the series timeline. Fortunately, it will be a while before I have to worry about the next one, which might fall at the beginning of the pandemic. I am trying to keep up with what life is like in London now, just in case.

    Your book sounds fascinating and Lisa sounds like a great character. I can't wait to get acquainted!

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    1. It'll be interesting to see what you decide! xoo

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  20. Thanks, Deborah! What a great group you all have here! Glad you won't have to address the question of COVID-19 in your writing -- at least for a while.

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  21. Congratulations, Reece! the book sounds fabulous.

    I admit I'm finding it a relief that my current WIP is set in December 1942, so I don't have to deal with the "include or don't include" question. But once this is done, I have to move on to the next book in my contemporary series. It's set "now," but I've never really specified when "now" is. I suspect I'm going to take Annette and Hank's path. Write the book and figure out if/how to address COVID later.

    As for coping, reading is playing a huge part in it. But no pandemic books please. Too soon.

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    1. Thanks, Liz! So many books are set in that indeterminate "now" without nailing down a particular timeframe. If the author doesn't make a point of it, it could be 2019, 2020 or whenever. Hopefully, the reader will just go along with the world you've created as long as everything is internally consistent.

      And I agree -- too soon for pandemic reading.

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    2. Another vote for TOO SOON! Although--I am thinking of rereading The Stand. Stephen King--whoa. How prescient can anyone be?

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  22. Congratulations, Reece! I've been looking for a thriller to take my mind of things and I think yours is just the ticket. I have wrestled with putting the pandemic in my novels - I write cozy and rom-com - and I'm not concerned with writing about being quarantined but more the societal impact after, as in, are we still going to shake hands? It's all so weird!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn! Hope you enjoy the book. When the pandemic has passed (fingers crossed), the world is definitely going to be a different place. Some of the fallout is predictable (less handshaking), but I'm sure there will be plenty of changes that we never could have anticipated.

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    2. SO many. From tiny: manicures, do I really need them? To huge: I cannot imagine getting on an airplane.

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  23. I am reading when not at work, my pile is large but I'm reading the "lighter" books. Definitely sticking with the authors I'm more familiar with, comfort in their styles. The only real challenge for me is shopping. Since I'm going work I still shop after work but my choices are more limited at that time.

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    1. So lovely to see you, Deana! And yes, lighter is good! xoo

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