It’s now almost a year since covid19 hit, and like most other people I’ve spent my time in strange isolation as the world spins on. So this post is in the nature of an introspective one, an assessment from the edge of it all.
First the positives because we all need those. In the last 12 months my first crime novel – Whirligig – was published by Fledgling Press just as the pandemic hit. It has attracted some wonderful reviews, and was generally well received by the likes of the CWA and Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize. With very little prompting I’ve written another, featuring the same cast of characters with another crime to solve. I am truly delighted that Fledgling Press will be releasing The Devil’s Cut this autumn. In other news I have a literary agent, something of a rarity I’m given to understand but we shall see what develops in this new-to-me world of authors and publishing. I am writing another new book, more environmental thriller than crime and will update you all once it has found a home. Once this has been hewn into shape I have another project I’m keen to get started on, and happily for me I’ll have to visit a few Scottish Islands as ‘research’.
Then the negatives, because of Yin and Yang, light and dark – you know the score. As always, it’s human nature that provides the extremes. Our own country, laden with class structure, inequality and an Alice in Wonderland view of its place in the world has Brexited and begins to fragment. Pandoras box has been opened and racism, intolerance and something very akin to fascism openly walks the streets whilst those in power stuff their pockets with our taxes. We are not alone – and whilst a pandemic might be thought able to expose corruption in high places it appears to only provide opportunities for those whose limited empathy allows them only to think of themselves.
Living, as we are, on the bleeding edge of history it’s difficult to gain any sort of perspective on world events but these days too will pass, and future historians will no doubt cast a wry smile at how primitive and gullible those living in 2021 were. In this instance, writers are important. Writers inform, comment and leave a time capsule for future generations to inspect. Edward Bulwer-Lytton, hardly a household name, wrote in 1839 that the pen is mightier than the sword. He was, and is, totally correct. Words; ideas have power. That’s why those keen to keep the status quo work so hard to control the narrative either in the press, television or new-fangled social media.
Our job, as writers, is to wield the pen. My own modest efforts are unlikely to make much difference but if I can weave a story well enough that a reader takes something positive away from the experience; has maybe learnt that otherness doesn’t equate to wrongness or that our actions in life matter then I am content.