I read some amazing books in 2020 and I would like to share them again with you, updated with the authors most recent releases and their biography.
This is my review from July 2020 for the anthology compiled by Marjorie Mallon that shares her own diary of events over that period about the pandemic and life as a family in lock down.. and the thoughts and poetry of others within the blogging community including myself. I also featured some of the authors and poets who have participated.
Who would have thought that almost a year on many of us are still restricted in our movements and waiting for vaccines to help prevent another wave of the virus.
About the collection
An anthology and compilation of diaries, short stories, flash fiction, contributions from the ‘isolation writers,’ plus poetry written during the time of lockdown in the UK. This Is Lockdown is written from a writer’s perspective highlighting the simple pleasures of day-to-day life during such an uncertain and frightening time. It also gives a glimpse of the blogging, writing world. The book showcases several authors and their thoughts on what it is like to experience ‘isolation’ as a writer. I also discuss the handling of the pandemic and my thoughts on what might happen next. In the final part of the book I include my latest short story idea: a YA romance and various short pieces of poetry, and flash fiction inspired by the pandemic.
The full list of authors are:
Richard Dee, (Sci Fi , Steampunk, Amateur Detective author,) Catherine Fearns, (Amazon Bestselling Author of Police Procedural/Mysteries and Music Journalist,) Lynn Fraser, (Humorous Dark Comedy,) Jackie Carreira, (Writer, musician, designer and aspiring philosopher,) Willow Willers, (Poet and writer,) Sharon Marchisello, (Murder Mystery, Financial non-fiction,) Fi Phillips , (Copy writer, Author,) Jeannie Wycherley, (dark stories, suspense, horror,) Chantelle Atkins, (urban fiction, teen/YA,)Tracie Barton Barrett, (Speaker/author,) Peter Taylor Gooby, (Crime, Love Stories, Political Fiction,) Ritu Bhathal, (Chick Lit romance, poet,) Alice May , (Author, Artist and Speaker,) Miriam Owen, (Reader, Blogger, Post Doctoral Researcher and Academic,) Drew Neary and Ceri Williams (Ghost Horror, Supernatural,) Katherine Mezzacappa, (Historical Fiction/Romance,) Sally Cronin, (huge supporter of indie community/blogger/author) Debby Gies (D G Kaye), (Memoirist/NonFiction,) Adele Marie Park, (Fantasy, horror, urban fantasy,) Marian Wood, (blogger, poet and writer.) Samantha Murdoch, (Writer, Blogger,) Beaton Mabaso (blogger, African storyteller.).Frank Prem (Poet, Author) Anne Goodwin (Author, Book Blogger) Sherri Matthews (Writer, Photographer, Blogger) Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val – Community Masks for The NHS .
My review for the collection July 18th 2020
This is an anthology of three parts; the diary that Marjorie Mallon kept to mark the progress of not just the pandemic, as it began increase its grip on society and services, but the effects of isolation on her family.
The second part shares the thoughts and poetry of other members of our blogging community with contributions from around the world including the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, USA and Zimbabwe, providing a wide ranging of perspectives on how our lives have been impacted around the globe.
Lastly, we are treated to some flash fiction from Marjorie that leaves us with much to think about as we move forward with our lives and back into society. How has it changed us?
The diary entries were illuminating as they highlighted the challenges a family faces, when teenagers who are accustomed to independence, find themselves back with parents in the same space 24 hours a day. There are some lovely moments of shared activities such as a DIY Nail Bar, and exercise each day in the garden, but clearly like all of us, there were moments when solitude was needed. Then there is the worry for elderly parents too far away to support, who are going through health emergencies and also household dilemmas. That sense of powerlessness at not being able to rush to their side, must have been mirrored across the world. It was heartwarming to be privy to this personal recollection, and I am sure that as a family they will remember this time positively.
The contributions for other authors were also though provoking, such as a father with three daughters on the front line in the NHS, a mother with four children between 5 and 17 who now required home schooling, and a teacher working a shift system to prepare for the safe return of students, whilst caring for a family and concerned for elderly parents.
Interestingly the common thread running through the stories was the sudden dampening of the creative spark so necessary for writers. The struggle to continue with books in progress, even to write a blog post. Tough to finding that focus with the compulsion to absorb all the news headlines, adhere to the ever changing restrictions, with the worry that the new normal would not be normal at all. However, there clearly was a great deal of emotional impetus to write something about this global experience, resulting in some excellent flash fiction and poetry.
Other writers share their thoughts on minimising the impact of news and social media and what we might expect in the coming months for both individuals and certain vulnerable groups in society. Others highlighted how nature had filled the vacuum left by the humans, clearing waters and skies above us. Demonstrating our human impact on the natural order of things. And all felt the lack of human interaction very hard to cope with, at a time when that sense of community was so badly needed.
There are stories of businesses that collapsed in the matter of weeks only to be revived with new opportunities presented by technology. There is plenty of inspiration that leaves you feeling uplifted, including the final contribution from Jane Horwood and Melissa Santiago-Val. These two amazing women began making face masks at their kitchen table and within weeks they found themselves inundated with orders. As more joined the sewing circle now named #CommunityMasks4NHS the project grew with the help of some business sponsors to an incredible 6,500 masks with orders from around the world raising £27,700 by the publication of this anthology.
The collection finishes with some flash fiction from Marjorie Mallon highlighting the potential perils of shopping, isolating at home, being on the frontline of the NHS and how it might seem to a child…the danger of domestic abuse and choices some might make for a different future…. and a little ode to Van Gogh.
I recommend the collection, as I think it demonstrates how very much aligned we are as people when a catastrophe on this scale threatens our way of life. It is comforting to know that we are not alone with our fears, lack of creativity and the restrictions of isolation. It is also inspiring to discover how inventive and determined people are to thrive and learn from the experience.
Well done to Marjorie Mallon for bringing the anthology together and to the contributors for their personal and inspiring stories.
Also by M.J. Mallon
A little more about M.J. Mallon author, poet and editor of the anthology.
I am an author who has been blogging for many moons: M.J. Mallon. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, and middle grade fiction as well as micropoetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 Book Reviews
My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong.
As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.
When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.
Thanks for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed my review for This is Lockdown and will head over to buy a copy to read… thanks Sally