Hello from Varuna (amidst a pandemic).

To say this has been a strange week feels a little undercooked. In the span of five days I’ve nervously boarded a flight armed with hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes, traveled to the Blue Mountains for my first writing Fellowship, written more than 20,000 words (and counting) while anxiously following the news, seen the Coronavirus (COVID-19) declared a pandemic, the SAME DAY announced my first ever festival panel for Sydney Writers Festival, and now a day later, watched as tickets are suspended and signs point to the event not being able to go ahead. We will know more come Monday, which is, funnily enough, also the day I’m due to fly home. Fun!

Me, the feeler of A LOT of feelings at the calmest of times, have a very busy mind right now. I’m concerned for the people in my life: the elderly and immunocompromised, the people who’s jobs and wages are in danger, the people who aren’t able to self-isolate or support themselves with as much ease as others, and people with loved ones stuck in countries with newly-imposed travel bans.

Underneath all of that is the other layer of worry, that follows the line of ‘what on Earth does it look like to be launching a debut novel in the middle of a pandemic?’ What does it mean for book launches, sales, appearances, events and international rights? We have already seen both Bologna and London Book Fairs canceled, which is where so many of the international rights deals are made. I hate feeling like I don’t know ‘the plan’, and right now it feels like our entire country doesn’t know the plan. We are canceling events of more than 500 people, but not until after the weekend, because football or something?

So if you’ve got any words of wisdom or bright ideas on how one might make this work, please do let me know. Maybe it’s an online launch, maybe I’ll do some Q&A over on Instagram or maybe I’ll just cross my fingers and hope the people who need the book find the book. Now is probably a good time to add that you can preorder at Text Publishing or Booktopia. And remember to wash your hands!

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