The Coronavirus Plot

My Current WIP Is Actually about People Getting Sick…Oh, Crap

Prince Charles has tested positive for covid-19. I’m freaking out. It’s not that I especially like Prince Charles. I find the British monarchy incredibly problematic. But I admire Queen Elizabeth as a woman who ascended the throne in a conservative period in history when women didn’t often have much political or social power, and as the longest serving female head of state ever, she’s kind of a treasure. Even if she’s mostly a figurehead.

When I heard Charles was sick, my first thought was, “What if he dies and the line of succession skips right to William?” This is what the tabloids always report. “Queen names Kate as successor, effective immediately!” is a headline I’ve seen more than once at the checkout. And that’s not…that’s not how it works. Unless Charles dies. Which we hope he won’t.

My second thought was, “Are they keeping him away from the Queen?!” Like Betty White, we’ve got to make sure the queen is insulated from things that might kill her. I have faith in the people in charge of these things, though, so I’m hoping Her Majesty will be okay.

My third thought, the one that has the most consequence on my life personally, was, “Now I’ve got to rewrite the book.” My current work in progress is a royal romance. The wayward heir apparent is summoned home to fulfill royal duties when the queen gets a cold and can’t perform them. This…sounds tone-deaf at a moment in time when people are dying from a respiratory illness.

I’m sure there will be a time when writers start to incorporate covid-19 into their stories. I don’t think I will, other than as a reference to a truthful past, since I’m guessing that we’ll all be so scarred that we won’t want to relive it. As for stories that might come out now, we don’t need them. We’re living it. And some of us are dying from it.

Because I write cute, fun romances, the parallels between the queen’s head cold and covid-19 are concerning. There’s also the concern that folks will think this book was inspired by the current moment. (In fact, it was inspired by a really pernicious cold I got in South Africa last summer.)

So, what will I do? Rewrite? Wait to publish until this passes? I’m not sure yet, but I will keep watching for updates on the Prince of Wales while I try to decide.

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