Posts Tagged ‘pandemic fiction’

You would think that in the midst of a pandemic, nobody would be interested in pandemic fiction. Paul Tremblay’s new novel Survivor Song, released just last month, is about a pandemic (still trying to figure out if that’s coincidence or if Tremblay knew COVID-19 was on its way and wrote the story in response). And yet I, and many others, picked it up as soon as we could, and devoured it. I got it done in about a week, reading through the last half today. So yes, even in the midst of a pandemic, there’s an appetite for pandemic fiction. And Survivor Song is a welcome addition to the fold.

Survivor Song follows Dr. Ramola Sherman, a pediatrician experiencing a pandemic of her own in her state of Massachusetts. This one is a fast-moving form of rabies, one that affects its host within hours instead of days or weeks. As fear, anger, and conspiracy swirls around the state, Ramola gets a call from her best friend, Natalie, who is eight months pregnant and ready to burst. An infected man killed her husband and bit her. Thus begins a saga to find someplace to get Natalie treated, to save her and her baby. But with rabid humans and animals everywhere and time running out, can Ramola help anyone, let alone her friend and her friend’s baby?

A pandemic story with a slash of zombie thriller (though Dr. Sherman will remind you, none of the infected are zombies), Tremblay’s novel offers a stark, believable story of a disease running rampant through the state and the problems that come up in such a situation. That said, there are plenty of twists and unexpected turns, and they add to the tension of a clock running out of the story. Quite a few times I read something and was like, “Oh no!” or “Well, that’s a complication.” I also loved how Tremblay managed to hit on a lot of what we’re seeing in our current situation, including but not limited to: hospitals fighting an uphill battle; people not obeying health guidelines or employing easy “solutions” that are actually problematic; and crazy, convoluted conspiracy theories.

Also, that ending! Guy knows how to write a tense climax.

At the same time, there’s a deep-running love story here. Not a romance story or romantic love, but love between friends and a mother and child. Through Ramola and Natalie’s interactions, and the messages Natalie leaves to her child, you really come to care for these characters and hope for the best despite the threat of the worst.

If there’s one thing I didn’t care for and would’ve liked to see changed, it’s the ending of the story for Josh and Luis, two teens whom Ramola and Natalie meet while trying to get to the hospital. They were in the story for only a short time, but I really grew to like those goofy nerds and would’ve liked to see more of them in the story, or maybe in a story of their own. And not just because they were Doctor Who fans (Whovians, unite!).

All in all, Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay is a thrilling and emotional read and perfect for these mad times. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the book a 4.5. Stay inside, grab a bite, and get ready for one roller-coaster of a story. Just hope the bite you grab isn’t something biting your arm off while you’re at it.

And while I still have your attention, guess what happened last night? Stephen King tweeted about this book, and I replied mentioning my progress in it and when I hoped to have it finished. He retweeted it. King retweeted it! And I’ve been fangirling ever since (while at the same time daring to hope this isn’t the last time I end up on his radar). What a world, right?

Recently, I saw a couple of people on my social media mention that they’re writing stories taking place at the tail end of or during the COVID-19 pandemic. You know, the pandemic we’re dealing with now and which we’re still far from out of the woods of? This intrigued me, especially when I realized I could incorporate the pandemic into one of the stories I wanted to work on this year, if I set it after the pandemic was over!

Out of curiosity, I consulted my writer friends on if you can write such a story. And if so, how you go about doing it. Nearly everyone said that yes, you can write a story set after our current crisis. A few even had advice to give me, while at the same time warning me that there’s going to be “a glut of COVID-19 stories” and I should be careful what I put out. One person mentioned that I should market the story as science fiction, seeing as it will take place in the future. Another suggested that I keep the story for a while, at least until the pandemic is actually over. That way, I can edit it if I get my predictions on what will happen wrong.

The best advice, I think, was that a good author will take notes. Remember when certain things happen, look up those things if you can’t, and try to note details that might come in handy in building the world.

As to other practical advice, I guess you should just write a story that you would write.

Yeah, I got nothing else. Sorry, but I’ve only written one story that takes place during the early days of the pandemic, and I’ve never written a story that takes place after the pandemic. I’m going to try with my next story, which obviously means I’m not going to post advice before I do.

So, I’ll be doing what every writer should do: writing the stories only they can write. I think I have a unique view on a certain aspect of our current pandemic and how it can translate into a short horror story. I’m working on an outline, and afterwards, I’ll work on that story. I’m not sure if it’ll be any good, but at least I’ll have tried. And given how stressful our current day and age is, it might prove therapeutic.

Write the story you’re going to write. Even if it takes place after the pandemic.

In summary, if you have an idea of a story that takes place after the COVID-19 pandemic, feel free to write and explore it. It’ll take some work, and you may have to change some things depending on how events play out, but only you can write this story. Might as well try it for that reason alone.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Remember, the one-year publishing anniversary of Rose is coming up, and you have the opportunity to submit questions for a YouTube Q&A. Just send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com with your name, where you’re from, and up to two questions before noon on June 17th, and they may appear in the video. Not only that, but anyone who submits from the US and UK may be eligible for a download code for the Rose audio book.

In the meantime, I’ve got dinner to make and evening plans to get to. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!

Hi everyone. I know it’s been a while since I last posted something (eight days, actually), but I didn’t have anything lately I felt passionate posting about. Until now, that is. You see, just a little while ago, the Ohio chapter of the Horror Writers Association finished a chapter meeting. Not only that, but it was our first Zoom meeting, and we had a pretty decent turnout. We’d been discussing doing things virtually for a while now, but COVID-19 really pushed us to do things online.

And that probably had a big part in our discussion during the meeting. We got onto talking about how COVID-19 has been affecting the writing industry, from the stories we tell to the events we go to. And it has been changing. Or at the very least, it’s in a state of flux.

If you’re part of the writing community as well, you know how it is. A lot of events had to be canceled because of the virus. StokerCon, the biggest horror convention in the world, was canceled, as was ParaPsyCon in Mansfield, OH, which I was supposed to attend. More than a few authors I’ve spoken to have said that their summer travel plans have been canceled and they’ll be spending more time at home than expected. And there’s a good chance my summer plans will be canceled by the end of next month, if not sooner.

Some events have moved online. A writer friend of mine told us during the meeting that he was supposed to give a talk in London around April, but it was moved online. According to him, it had probably more attendees than if he’d been there in person. And there are more events moving online. Hell, some people prefer it that way. Sure, you miss the personal touch that comes from doing cons and panels and readings face-to-face, and maybe lose a little business. But it can be easier on our schedules and wallets and, at least these days, health.

Perhaps some of our events will move online permanently.

Then there are the stories we write. A lot of discussion has gone on about how coronavirus is affecting what we weave together with words. Many of you already know that I’ve written a story, What Errour Awoke, which includes the virus for most of the story as part of the setting. And since then, I’ve had a few more ideas that take place during this current crisis, after this crisis, or uses imagery from the crisis to enhance the terror.

This virus is changing so much of our industry.

For others though, this pandemic has put a crimp in their writing plans. More than a few people have said their planned pandemic or zombie stories have been put on hold or readjusted due to COVID-19. One of my fellow writers mentioned how her students turned in a story about zombies created from the COVID-19 vaccine, and how she told said student that it wouldn’t be published (sounds too much like I Am Legend, for one thing). Others have mentioned how a lot of their stories have become period pieces, because they’ve had to move their stories to pre-COVID days. Or how they don’t think they can use COVID-19 in their work right now because they’re going through the pandemic right now, and don’t have the right mindset right now for those sort of stories.

I mentioned how I expected a lot of people to write Gothic stories about evil homes, inspired by being cooped up in their homes and the stress caused by that. Others mentioned how themes of isolation, fear of touch, of each other, might show up more in our fiction.

And this is likely only a few changes that will occur in the industry. Probably, we will see more changes to stories, publishing, marketing and event planning. What they will be, I can’t say for certain. I can only guess. But I think, at some point, we can expect plenty of writing about them.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll hopefully have a new post out very soon. Remember, you can still get a signed copy of Rose from yours truly. Send me an email for details. And until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!