With a global pandemic still very much surrounding us and affecting our day-to-day lives as well as life-changing events such as getting married and being able to meet a special someone, books set in contemporary times are still very much being written and published (thank goodness!).
So, how are writers, and romance writers in particular, dealing with setting their fictional works in either 2020 or 2021 i.e. a world dominated by Covid-19? A world where we haven’t been able to hug, kiss, go out to meet new people, or get stuck in a log cabin in Colorado with a hunky cowboy for two weeks.
My own romances aren’t set in any particular year, so I’ve been able to skirt around this issue with my latest book, ‘Her Sister’s Baby’, due out June 1st, but I asked around to see what others are planning to do.
A few authors have embraced the challenge. During the first lockdown, I can remember the cover image of an erotic novella doing the rounds on Facebook. Apparently the book depicted a ‘romance’ between a woman and the Coronavirus… not my cup of tea, but good on the author for coming up with an (extremely) original idea and getting it out there, I say.
But for more ‘regular’ romance authors, staid enough to want the focus of their book to be on love between humans, are any brave/daft/imaginative enough to set a contemporary romance in the middle of a global pandemic? Perhaps unsurprisingly, most say they wouldn’t touch Covid with a barge pole:
“…my books are a complete Covid-free zone. Had so many readers thanking me for the escapism and I think that’s why so many of us read. And I don’t want to write about it either. Been a grim year & just want to escape from it between the pages.” Jessica Redland.
“I’m definitely pretending COVID doesn’t exist in my books, but what I am including is lots of crowd scenes, hand holding, hugs and closeness because we need to see and feel these things again after 12 months missing out!” Kiley Dunbar
Others, like romantic comedy author, Jane Lovering, may write about it in the future:
“I won’t be writing about Covid until it’s all well in the past. Rather like with the war, I think people want to know how the end works out before they start reading about the subject. I don’t think they can suspend disbelief enough to enjoy fiction on the subject just yet.” Jane Lovering.
Of course, some writers are lucky enough not to have to worry about whether or not to include the C word in their books:
“Good question! I’m able to avoid mentioning it because my novels are set in the medieval era. As a reader, I’m loving escaping to parallel contemporary worlds where the craziness of real life is not happening and people are able to hug and travel.” Ella Matthews.
I’ve recently begun work on a very different type of story set in a different genre. For part of this tale, I’m actually going to ‘utilise’ the lockdown period. I want to place my protagonists in this very unusual situation, where they’re stuck together with all their joint and individual issues, and wait to see the sparks fly! I’ll let you know if it all comes together as I hope!