book characters in lockdown

It’s week 9 (or is it 10?) of lockdown in the UK this week and my mind has been wandering away from edits, as it often does. In Carrie Bradshaw style I have been wondering… are my book characters getting on in lockdown?

I’m guessing I’m not the only writer who knows their characters in intimate detail long before they put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and I’m guessing I’m not the only writer who thinks about their characters long after the book is finished. So this week I’ve been thinking about how my characters have been getting on in quarantine.

Julia and Edwin from The Many Colours of Us

Julia and Edwin got married a year after they met and have two boys now – Patrick is 4 and James is 3 – so lockdown has not been easy. They live in the house on Campden Hill Road these days (more bedrooms) while Julia’s mum, Philadelphia, and her husband Johnny live in the flat in Notting Hill. Between keeping two under-5s entertained and trying to stop her mother from going out “just for something to do”, Julia has her work cut out. She’s had to temporarily close her bespoke dressmaking business as she can’t keep up with demand and the Art Salon stands empty, waiting for happier times. Meanwhile Edwin is trying to run the law firm from the smallest bedroom while WhatsApp-ing his disabled brother 6 times a day to check if he’s got a fever or cough. He is considering getting a lock on the door to stop his kids interrupting his Zoom meetings.

Will and Fran from The Things We Need to Say

OK, I’m going to be super honest here, but Will and Fran don’t make it. Don’t worry, nobody dies. They tried really hard after Dylan was born but in the end they just never managed to get their marriage back to where it used to be. Earlier this year, just after Dylan’s third birthday, they decided to separate. Will was looking for a flat to rent when lockdown hit so Will and Fran are together but apart desperately trying to keep up a good front for their son who is delighted to have both parents at home all the time. Fran is teaching yoga by Zoom and Will is hoping he can make enough money to get him through this so he’s not bankrupted in the divorce court. Two divorces by his 50th birthday – not as bad as Ross Geller but still….

Jess and Rupert from The Pieces of You and Me

As a writer Jess is used to working from home and as a person with chronic illness she’s used to living her life in a sort of lockdown anyway. She’s thriving….”Finally,” she says to Rupert at intervals, “my time has come.” Her third novel won a CWA Dagger award and secured her a very lucrative publishing deal which meant she and Rupert could finally get professional builders in to finish off their house renovation. Rupert is teaching his university students online and writing a book with the working title of ‘Politics and Plagues’. They both feel equal amounts smug and guilty about how much lockdown life suits them and secretly dread the world going back to ‘normal’. Captain is enjoying having Rupert home all the time and joining in with online seminars. Every day Jess and Rupert walk Captain along the towpath and say hello (from a distance of 2m) to Dan and Elspeth who are isolating on the houseboat.

How do you think your favourite characters are getting on in lockdown?

Posted in Blog.