The Wrack Book Tour – On Pandemics, Plagues, And Fiction
A few months into the writing process on The Wrack, I started hearing rumors of some new virus in China. Four days after I sent The Wrack’s manuscript to my editor, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
It’s been pretty surreal, to say the least.
I was absolutely fascinated with the Black Death as a child, and over the years, that grew into an interest with epidemiology in general. One of the constant refrains I heard from epidemiologists was that we were by no means safe from pandemics in the modern day- that the interconnected nature of our society put us at even greater risk. That’s obvious now, but even a year ago, most people simply wouldn’t have believed it.
So when I started writing The Wrack, it was, in part, intended to open people’s minds to the dangers that plagues still pose to us.
Needless to say, my warning came a bit late.
I wish I could say that I predicted how bad COVID-19 would get, but I really didn’t. I genuinely assumed that the the various public health agencies involved in the early days of COVID-19 would manage to get control of the situation before it got this bad. I never thought it would turn into a full-blown pandemic.
While I got that part badly wrong, so much else has turned out as I expected it to. We might be more technologically advanced than our ancestors, but the mix of panic and community solidarity we’ve shown in the face of COVID-19 is remarkably familiar from historical accounts. Conspiracy theories and acts of selfless aid were just as intermingled in past plagues as they are today.
And, probably least surprising, the wealthy have proven just as liable to abandon their communities and flee to the hills today as they were during past plagues.
There have been countless words written about how the true nature of humanity is only revealed during times of crisis. That’s something I absolutely wanted to explore with The Wrack, but I never expected my predictions to be put to such an immediate test.
And, by and large? I feel as though I passed that test. I’ve been convinced for a long time that the fundamental nature of humanity, is, well, inconsistency and interconnectedness. We’re all hypocritical, inconsistent, messy beings, who are more the contextual products of our social and physical environments than we are discrete individuals. I think that human nature is fundamentally good, though the bad actors are more common than I would like.
COVID-19 has been a test of that idea like nothing else. I’ll leave my readers to decide how close I was to the mark.
More than a few of my fans, friends, and family have jokingly blamed me for the pandemic. It’s all been in good humor, but…
“Art is suffering” is generally supposed to apply to the artist, not, you know, other people. I have to admit, I’m now a bit nervous about writing some of the other “natural disaster in a fantasy world” novels I’ve been wanting to write.
Just in case I do decide to move forwards with them, though, uh… maybe avoid Tacoma, Washington in the future? Just saying.
The tour schedule can be found here: https://storytellersontour.online/2020/07/01/tour-schedule-the-wrack-by-john-bierce/
The Wrack by John Bierce
Published: April 23, 2020
Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
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Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.
As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.
Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.
And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.
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John Bierce is a history buff, fantasy and science fiction lover, and fan of talking about himself in the third person. He also has a background in the earth sciences, and has been caught licking rocks before. For science.
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!