Back in the 90s it tended to be the porn producers* who were quickest off the mark when it came to topical themes for new product, probably for the same reason that now it’s indie authors: low production costs and fast turnaround.
Of course, the great Chuck Tingle is on the list, but then that most excellent dude originally made his name by whipping out a short, utterly nuts but generally filthy story every time anything interesting hit the headlines. He’s actually produced three virus-themed stories since the lockdown began, but his newest title is Punk Rock Parasaurolophus Eats My Ass so he’s clearly moved on now. The handful of other erotica titles inspired by Covid-19 and the world lockdown seem to be very short ebooks of… let’s say variable quality but with eye-catching titles.
When it comes to writing longer contemporary themed fiction, though, it can be a bit more complicated. Sometimes events overtake the book you’re just finished, but if it’s one you’re part way through – or if you’re about to embark on writing your first novel – and something utterly massive occurs, you might be at a loss as to what to do. Should you include the Huge WorldChanging Thing in your story? Or should you ignore it completely? The pandemic is so, so enormously world-changing that it would be almost impossible to set your contemporary-realist tale any time after the middle of March this year unless the whole book is going to be about this crisis and how your characters deal with it. The simplest solution, particularly if the book is almost finished, would probably be to set it, well, this time last year. You don’t even have to mention Brexit, if you don’t want to.
Fortunately (perhaps) for me, I’ve got two books on the go, sort of, just now. One is non-fiction anyway, and covers past events, so that can just be plodded on with. The other one is a sort of speculative/sci-fi thing about posthumanism. And kink. I thought it would just curl up and die, but then another plot strand, which involves a plague, drifted into my mind and revitalised the plot…
*Well, OK, there is apparently pandemic porn as well as written erotica.
Why not visit the bookshop before you go?