Coronavirus: the story behind “Lockdown”, the novel about a London quarantine rejected as “unrealistic” and that now sees the light 15 years later


Deserted street of London

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The novel “Lockdown” contains disturbing similarities with the reality that he lives London with the coronavirus.

“A scenario dystopian and unreal,” was the response from the editors in 2005.

London, like other cities of the world, is in absolute confinement by a devastating pandemic.

The streets are deserted, the stores and the shops closed. The health services are completely overwhelmed and the british prime minister is on the verge of death in a hospital central.

Sound familiar? Because that is the background of the novel “Lockdown” (Confinement), written by Peter May and that was rejected by publishers 15 years ago.

Now, it was finally published and received with great enthusiasm.

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“It is extraordinary. One would expect that the circumstances were better for publication, but honestly I had given up on that ever were to publish,” said May to the BBC.

Today the scottish author enjoys international recognition for its “best sellers” police, but in 2005 it was hard work to publish something.

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In London governed by stringent measures to combat the pandemic.

“Other novels that I wrote at that time were subsequently published, and perhaps, for that reason, I completely forgot of ‘Lockdown’”.

That is, until someone in your Twitter account you he suggested that he write a novel of suspense set against the backdrop of what is happening with the coronavirus.

“I got to thinking and I suddenly said: ‘oh, I already did something like that’”.

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Unearthed the manuscript, read it again and sent it to his publisher, who suggested that it was to be published immediately. “The response from the readers has been overwhelming,” he says.

The fiction and the reality

What is more surprising is that the environment of the novel is an accurate reflection of what is going onnot only in London but all over the world.

“Nature imitates art”once said Oscar Wilde, the witty irish author of the NINETEENTH century. But May acknowledge that not everything was coming out of his imagination.

The sources that you used when I was researching the subject were very real: the three manuscripts -two british and one american – of the plans of governments on both sides of the Atlantic to to deal with a pandemic situation served him as a model.

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In the novel of May, the british prime minister is hospitalized because of the virus, such as occurs in real life.

“In reality, all I did was take the projections and predictions of scientists and planners of the time of how they would prepare for such a pandemic, the social consequences for all of us, our lives and our economies and our cities”, he explained.

The novel describes a confinement total, what many are experiencing in this moment. Streets emptied, shops, stores, restaurants and bars closed. The people secluded in their homes.

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Health services are completely overwhelmed by the amount of sick, crematoria that can’t keep with all the dead, the construction of urgent emergency hospitals to cope with the number of patients.

In fact, the novel begins with the discovery of the bones of a child killed, near the building of one of these hospitals in the centre of London.

Interestingly (and macabramente) at the beginning of the book, the british prime minister, dies of the virus.

“God forbid that happens, but there is Boris Johnson in intensive care in the same hospital (St. Thomas) that I use in my fiction,” said to BBC News World.

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May says that his novel brings a message of hope.

Hope, after all

Although the novel tells a story is very dark, May argues that we can see a little bit of hope in her, and also a lessons.

“I believe that in Britain the public has been slow to understand the strict precautions that must be taken to avoid the spread of the infection, but something that is conveyed very clearly in the book are the precautionary measures that you need to take. So, I think it is a positive message”, she says.

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May insists that it is not like that you will take as someone who is taking advantage of the misery of others.

In a way that claims to be “by donating all of the advance payment of this book to charitable organizations and the individuals that fight in the front line against the coronavirus. I do not expect to make profits of the book.”

“Lockdown”, by Peter May, is available as an ebook and due for publication in paper on 30 April.

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