For Day 27 of the Open Mic Creativity and COVID-19 Special Project, I check in with author Claire Booth, the person behind the outstanding Hank Worth mystery series. Even with all that must-see TV out there, she is still finding time to write.

OM: We’ve all been hit by this pandemic in some way. How has it impacted you?

Booth: I’ve always worked at home with my writing, but now I’m working from home for my day job, too. It’s not too bad, but I miss my co-workers. I do have two new ones – my dogs – who are loving having me home all day.

OM: Creativity can be such a fragile thing. How are you managing your creativity during this time? Have you been able to keep writing?

Booth: I have been able to keep writing – barely. I’m honestly been surprised at how much all of this has messed with my head. I’ve really had a hard time focusing enough to sit down and write. I make myself do it, though. My word count isn’t as high as it was pre-Covid, but I always feel better after a writing session. I hope I can work my way past it faster than it’s going to take the world to return to normal.

 

OM: How about the creativity you are taking in – what books and music or movies or TV have you been catching up on?

Booth: I actually haven’t been reading that much, which for me is unheard of. My M.O. has always been to bury my nose in a book during times of trouble. But this time, I haven’t been. I did read Attica Locke’s wonderful second book in her Ranger Darrin Mathews series, Heaven, My Home. I loved it and said, “Why aren’t I reading more?” and then went right back to not reading. If anybody needed absolute proof the world is upside down, that’s it right there. I didn’t pick up another book.

On the flip side, I am watching a lot of excellent TV. I’m making my way through the new season of Ozark, and watching a great New Zealand crime drama, The Brokenwood Mysteries. If you have Acorn, I highly recommend it. And we finally caved and subscribed to Disney+, and I really enjoyed the Mandalorian. We had a very entertaining time speculating about what the deal is with Baby Yoda. Wait – so that’s where my creativity went!

OM: What do you think this will do to the publishing industry? Are you concerned things will get even harder for writers than they are now?

Booth: I am really worried about the future of the business. As we all know, it was hard enough before the pandemic. Now? I shudder to think about it. I can see advances been pared back even further than they are now and publishers shrinking their catalogs. And even if those things don’t happen, one of the most valuable things for writers who aren’t mega-huge bestsellers has been taken away–meeting readers in person. Book signings, conferences. Those are one of the great ways you build a readership. When will those come back?

OM: Have you got any new projects we can tell folks about?

Booth: The fourth book in my Sheriff Hank Worth mystery series has been scheduled for release. It’s called Fatal Divisions, and it will come out in May 2021. It originally was supposed to come out this October (2020), but my publisher (and I hear it’s not the only one) has pushed a lot of things back so they don’t get caught in this pandemic black hole. So it’s a long time away, but I’m okay with that. I’m working on the fifth in the series, and trying to dust off a stand-alone that’s half done and has been sitting neglected on my computer for at least a year. We’ll see if I can get focused enough to dive into that again. Or maybe I’ll just start writing Yoda fan fiction . . .

Rich Ehisen

Rich Ehisen has been a reporter and editor for almost 30 years, and is currently the editor in chief at Capitol Weekly, which covers the California State Capitol in Sacramento. For two decades previous he was the managing editor of the State Net Capitol Journal, a LexisNexis publication that covers state public policy issues and trends nationwide. In that role he was also the producer and host of the SNCJ Deep Dive podcast and the SNCJ Hot Issues webinar series. He is also the producer and moderator of The Open Mic: Writers in Their Own Words, a podcast and YouTube show that features his discussions on writing with crime fiction, mystery and thriller authors.

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