By Kathryn Lane
Writers are always combing through ideas for stories. We take in a lot of information and through our individual creative processes, we select the characters, plots, themes, and settings that we bring to life. Great authors, like Arthur Conan Doyle and Margaret Mitchell, invent characters, such as Sherlock Holmes and Scarlett O’Hara, that endure over time. Then there are authors who have penned novels that have changed society. A few examples are Homer’s Odyssey, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.
For most writers of mystery and romance, we don’t look to change the world. We intend to entertain.
But COVID-19 has changed our world. When I read or hear the news, I realize we have a plethora of ideas that can and will influence our work. For example, in mystery novels, a detective might attend a funeral service to glean information through observation of the attendees. Now that funerals have gone virtual, will that detective be able to gather information by watching the service on-line? Instead of seeing the interaction among the mourners, the video feed will limit the view of the gathering and the detective’s ability to catch suspicious nuances.
COVID-19 has ushered in hi-tech innovations, such as a bar “The Crazy Gypsy” in Seville, Spain, whose latest hire is a robotic bartender. One android bartender can serve hundreds of beers in an hour. If this innovation is widely adapted over the next decade, gone will be the days of human bartenders conversing or scaring customers in a movie or T.V. series. Think Moe in the Simpsons, Sam Malone from Cheers, or Lloyd from The Shining.
Besides hi-tech applied to daily life, this pandemic has also brought a return to low-tech yet wonderful traditions, like the milkman who leaves containers of fresh milk, cheese, and organic fruit and vegetables near the front door. Now the milkman can be blamed for love affairs, fathering children, witnessing crimes, or even killing someone.
Innovation is great. Without it, we’d still be in the stone age. What I worry about is the loss of human interaction. Kids’ birthday parties and graduation ceremonies becoming drive-by events. My husband and I watched a video stream as our grandson “drove-by” to pick up his high school diploma. To me, it was sad that we could not be there in person and celebrate after the ceremony. But as we watched the students drive by, every single one of them was smiling and looked happy.
Crises are the mother of invention, as the saying goes. The world will adapt. And so will we. Since I’m a person who enjoys the “personal touch”, I was elated when a friend, Shana Fabio, stayed in touch not by using Zoom, but rather by sending cards through regular mail, such as the watercolor she sent us. We were touched to receive this beautiful hand-painted card, showing family members. A card I can touch, place on my desk, and admire. I love it!
Who is your favorite fictional character?
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