For Day 18 of the Open Mic Creativity and COVID-19 Project I check in with agent and YA author Lucienne Diver. She’s a Floridian, but we spoke before the governor there re-opened the beaches so I wasn’t able to ask her about that. She did address the negative way this pandemic has affected her creativity and the hit it is making on the publishing industry.
OM: We’ve all been impacted in some way by the pandemic. How has this been for you so far?
Diver: Oh, how to answer that. Physically, my family and I are fine, but every day is a blow. I know people who are sick. Being asthmatic, I know what it is to fight for breath, and this illness…it’s terrifying. Fear for our country, seeing the horrible ways people respond… There are some times when I just can’t.
OM: How has this impacted your creativity? Have you been able to keep a normal writing schedule?
Diver: I’ve had entire weeks where I sat down at the computer to write and couldn’t manage so much as a word. I’ve poured all my efforts into the authors I work with instead, keeping them going. But creatively I’ve been a bust. On Friday, I gave myself some tough love. I told myself I had until Monday to get over things. I didn’t think it would work necessarily, but I had to try. I did a lot of analyzing the problem and giving myself permission to be where I was instead of beating myself up for not being where I thought I should be. I think right now we all have to give ourselves permission to feel and to self-protect and to say what’s right for us. What amount of social media and response and engagement we can handle. And it’s worked. On Monday, I wrote a page. Not much, but something. Tuesday, I wrote another page. Today, I wrote two. My norm is four pages a day. I’m hoping I get there, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t.
OM: You write YA. Do you think you would ever work this pandemic into a future storyline?
Diver: Definitely not, although my work already in progress does have a plague that took place before the book begins (but not long before, so it still informs the society and has a lasting effect on my characters).
OM: You are also an agent – how do you see this situation impacting the publishing industry?
Diver: The response to this changes on a daily, even hourly basis, as we’re constantly in motion to deal with new information. I can say I’m seeing more of a drive to independent bookstores as places like Amazon have deprioritized the shipment of books for essentials and as authors and others have tried to keep them afloat, which I think is great. I think e-books have been more important than ever during the pandemic, since many physical books are printed in areas that have been particularly hard hit, which has, of course, affected manufacturing and shipping. Books are promoted differently now as well – more virtual tours than physical, for example – and I think a lot of these changes will continue on even after the pandemic is past. Time will tell.
OM: Finally, do you have any new projects either of your own writing or a client you are representing that you want to tell readers about?
Diver: My new novel, “Disappeared,” comes out April 29th from WordFire Press. In brief, it’s about a brother and sister whose mother goes missing and they don’t know whether to believe what their father tells them about the night she disappeared.