2020 and 2021 have been years like no others. I believe few people will argue with me on this.
I have definitely been challenged over the last two years. I have learned to live with routines which five years ago would have been unimaginable. Little things such as wearing a mask, no makeup, curtailing my restaurant outings, cancelling vacations and Christmas celebrations, limiting my shopping excursions, and doing everything social with Zoom have turned out to be more impacting than I’d have thought possible.
Here, in my small hometown in Puerto Rico, we have taken Covid very seriously. It is routine to be denied entry to a restaurant or a doctor’s office if you have no vaccination record. Masks have been required everywhere you go. Most cashiers and store clerks will remind you of social distancing. Restrictions are loosening now, but at the height of the pandemic, the native population was most cooperative. Visitors and tourists were a different story.
In my town, it’s difficult to find fresh imported produce such as apples, strawberries, peaches, broccoli, etc. because of the backlogs at the shipping ports in the USA. The produce is pretty much rotten by the time it hits the shelves.
Prices have sky-rocketed. Normally abundant items such as firearms and ammunition are in very short supply. Construction materials are so expensive that many people are opting for container houses, prompting me to wander about the impact of the next hurricane. The economic and social impact of the pandemic have been strongly felt.
Still, the number of deaths did not stop our ability to maintain our infrastructure. Electric power, water services, government, police departments, and hospitals were affected but not stopped. We must consider ourselves lucky. Imagine, just imagine, that our planet had been hit by a virus which killed four people out of ten.
Imagine a pandemic where three billion people died instead of six million. It is possible. It makes one think about the fragility of life on our planet. It makes me think about the first book I wrote back in 2012. It was titled Daniel’s Fork and retitled later as Hunter’s Snare. I staged the setting as taking place 80 years after a pandemic.
Obviously, 80 years after gives very little view of the pandemic itself. The world I created is a pastoral world where the very few survivors give birth to new generations living in begin-again, agrarian societies. Daniel’s Fork is like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern but without the dragons.
Four years ago, I began to write a new Daniel’s Fork novel going back to the pandemic years. I was motivated to do this by the criticism of a dear friend who could not understand why my characters spoke old English peppered with modern phrases or how they could possibly have toilets. She absolutely could not accept that democracy-loving Americans would go back old systems of government without democracy. She claimed Americans would never accept it.
I was resolved to show the evolution which resulted in the “stilted” language adapted by the descendants, as well as the little quirks which caused a society to have toilets and shotguns but no electricity. I wanted the reader to understand why a democracy-loving society had opted for lords who ruled for life and were not elected.
I soon after began writing the Angel’s Guardian series (paranormal romantic thriller) and somehow, lost sight of the Daniel’s Fork novel I had begun earlier. Always meaning to finish the series but always getting sidetracked, it took the 2020 Covid pandemic to bring my focus back to the old novel. The real-life lessons learned made me go back to reconsider and rewrite several of the chapters in First Lord, a novel which has been four years in the works.
As I hinted before, many of my chapters required a rewrite. If we could run out of hospital respirators two weeks after the Covid pandemic, imagine what would happen if four out of ten people died instead of two in a hundred.
That would be four out of every ten doctors, nurses, senators, truck drivers, train operators, supermarket workers, cargo ship captains, internet techs, etc. Production would come to a standstill in days and transportation would soon follow. The burials alone would become impossible to carry out. I am sure that under such conditions, the fools ranting against mask restrictions and social distancing would be no problem. They’d be the first to go.
My book could not even come close to the reality the few survivors would face. As pertains to my democracy-touting friend, I would have to refer her to news reels of the capitol being sacked in 2021. Needless to say, I am glad I did not finish First Lord back then. Now, I can incorporate lessons learned during this pandemic into the rewritten chapters. Hopefully, a much more realistic and compelling story will be the result.