Bring On The Quarantined Authors

We all know what is still happening out there. We are staying home as much as possible to try to help end a pandemic. We do not want either accidentally to spread to others, or even ourselves to catch, a potentially fatal virus.

Writers tend to spend a lot of time indoors, uh, “social distancing” anyway. My wife joked that therefore in some ways this situation well suits me. (Smart alec. LOL!) That led me to feel that after my previous university poli sci global politics post, that I might wander next over to Twitter’s #WritingCommunity hashtag and see what the other locked-down writers are saying:

As I thought about that, I realized I don’t technically write “villains.” I just write about life and people. So I don’t let anything, or anyone, do stuff.

[Excerpt from Distances: Atlantic Lives, 1996-1997. Click to expand.]

In life, bad things do happen… and that may be no one’s fault.

Gee, that was unwittingly depressing given our current dilemma.

But I’m sure you know what I mean.

To answer in order:

1) Because they are not (by the sighted, who are able to) read, I do not believe they are technically books; they are more like old-fashioned radio plays because we are listening to them.
2) No.
3) See #2.
4) I’m still considering it, but I would not read my own myself (because I would not subject readers to my voice for an entire book!), so I would need someone else to do it – which greatly complicates the issue.

For now, if listening is your thing (not just for mine, but for any book), remember Amazon’s Alexa app can read aloud Kindle books, and from what I have heard her read of mine, she does a pretty “real” job.

History of the Peloponnesian War, by Thucydides. LOL! I read my dad’s abridged paperback when I was about age 12. The Greek hoplite helmet on the cover fascinated me.

Yes, #WritingCommunity, I was odd even then.

Yeh, says him.

My first took me several years (mostly because I could not make up my mind if I wanted to write a novel and was scribbling notes for some time).

My third novel – excerpt above – took me about ten months (likely because it was a sequel and I had done so much of the prep work already).

That is soooooo true.

I finished writing a short story. (As you may know it is posted here.) I have also written some bits for the next planned novel – which actually puts me “ahead” of schedule, since back in the autumn I had planned to take a “sabbatical” (after five novels since 2013) to “recharge” the batteries and write nothing intended for publication again until at least June.

[Photo by me, 2020.]

Compared to either tweeting or writing, I have spent far more time reading.

Uh, as you see above, I am reading several. I am almost finished rereading War and Peace, which I have been reading now off and on for about a year and a half. (I first read it about twenty-five years ago.)

I am spending evenings reading a few pages each night of the actor David Niven’s (often hilarious, often touching) autobiography about life in Hollywood from 1935-1960, Bring On The Quarantined Authors Bring On The Empty Horses.

As background for my next novel, I am also re-reading parts from a 1953 biography of a today lesser-known British general of the Napoleonic wars (1793-1815), Sir John Moore.

[Title page, “Sir John Moore,” by Carola Oman, 1953. Photo by me, 2020.]

In the early 1800s, the Scot Moore was far more famous than the Duke of Wellington. Moore has already “appeared” in my most recent novel:

[Excerpt from Tomorrow The Grace. Click to expand.]

A curious footnote. I had bought that Moore biography in 2005 in a second hand bookshop on St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly. When I saw it there, I knew it was not the sort of book one sees on a shelf all that regularly and I could not pass on it.

[Plaque in the parish church. Ayot Saint Lawrence, Hertfordshire. Photo by me, 2019.]

Then, nearly fifteen years later, in one of life’s little (and memorable) personal coincidences, I was stunned when I learned we had by sheer chance ended up living one village over – a 40 minute Jane Austen-like ramble through woods, on bridleways, and across some farmland…

[Photo by me, 2019.]

…from Ayot Saint Lawrence, where its author Carola Oman (formally, Lady Lenanton) had lived.

I always recall Hemingway in 1928 wrote it was best that he wrote what he knew… about. “About.” So it does not have to be autobiography, just that we should not act like we know stuff we don’t.

Late last year, I shared, in a Hemingway-letter-style, my take on that “write what you know about” truism:

You may not agree with it but goddammit it was said by someone famous who we can agree at least had some idea of what the hell he was talking about there, so discounting it as totally false is what I consider totally stupid.

Anyway, it is just what I think.

My favorite men is a tough one as they tend to vary depending upon my mood. And they are not necessarily any who you might think. One is “Leslie Slote” – a troubled but brilliant foreign service officer in The Winds of War. Another is “Colonel Brandon” in Sense and Sensibility.

My favorite women have been pretty constant for years: 3) “Natasha Rostova” (War and Peace), 2) “Elizabeth Bennet” (oh, you know the book), and 1) “Cora Munro” (Last of the Mohicans).

Not including any of my own? LOL!

Probably Pride and Prejudice.

Instagram. Why? Mostly because it does not usually lead to endless arguments and, worst of all, disgusting pile ons for offering a “wrong” opinion.

Such as perhaps appallingly daring to tweet that employing the word “f-ck” does not automatically indicate authoring genius.

You will. Just keep at it.

Actually, that publication now may be a good thing. It may be a pleasant distraction. As I noted above, I finished off a long-dormant travel lighthearted short story and posted it online here for free reading as just such a tiny distraction for anyone who might want or need such:

[Excerpt from And Out Comes Her Phone. Click to expand.]

For we are all in this together, even if we are apart.

Have a good day, wherever you may be. 🙂