Yes, it’s happening today, 15th September! And I’m getting some excellent feedback and reviews! So pleased, after all the hard work.
Not, perhaps, the best month to publish as it turns out – there were 600 books published on September 3rd alone! Many were deferred from earlier in the year, the ‘Spring release’, if you will, because of COVID. Writers publishing this year are already being affectionately referred to as ‘Plague Authors’.
There will be no launch party or even an in-person signing – COVID prevents. Instead, having just returned from Spain, I am, very appropriately given the title of my book, in quarantine.
There is however, a reason why ‘Plague’ is being published now, specifically on 15th September. Not because September is an amazing month, even if it is, (my birthday is in September) or because it’s equinoctal, or because it’s the ‘Autumn release’ as far as publishers are concerned, out in time for Christmas. Rather because September is when the events of the novel take place. September 2020 was the original timing.
Since the arrival of COVID, however, references to 2020 have been removed. Were ‘Plague’ to be taking place now I would have to do a major rewrite to incorporate COVID and some, at least, of the events of the novel almost certainly wouldn’t take place. Given that the editing phase of the book was concluded in April, when we had just entered lock down and no one knew what was going to happen, this wasn’t an option. Hence the removal of the year.
September is still the month, however, because the plot is month specific. Usually, the Houses of Parliament rise in July for the summer recess and return in late August/early September, but only for a short while, as, traditionally, the Party Conferences take place in October, so everything closes down again a month or so after it opened up. It is in this narrow window of less than a month that the events of ‘Plague’ take place.
This year they returned on 1st September but will not close as usual. Like all physical gatherings, even relatively small ones (the ‘rule of six’) the conferences have been cancelled and activity will take place online. Given the imminent shenanigans in the Palace of Westminster in regard to the UK Internal Markets Bill, they may not take place at all. The current Parliamentary schedule currently shows PMQs and Private Members Bills proceeding throughout October, but little else.
In the novel it is the imminent early closure of the Palace, for the Conferences, (and major works) which sets the time limit for solving the case. The first arrest is made for a crime committed on 10th September and the day – and night – of 15th has a particular significance (early readers of the book will know this). Hence the publication date of 15th September.
Unfortunately, COVID has derailed all attempts to, roughly, synchronise the events of the novel with the Parliamentary timetable. Admittedly, this is a very minor inconvenience compared to other impacts of COVID, so I can’t really complain. The best laid plans…
‘Plague’ is published TODAY, on 15th September for reasons now largely redundant. Get your copy here.