How to write a lockdown novel – from a man who did just that
Thierry Macquet, a Mauritian ex-at living in London, found himself stranded on the paradise island of his childhood when coronavirus rampaged across the globe. To stay sane, he decided to write a lockdown novel, Messages From an Adventurous Ancestor. Here’s how he did it, and some advice on how you can do the same as we approach lockdown 2.0.
Tell us about Messages From an Adventurous Ancestor
Message from an Adventurous Ancestor is a braided story happening at different time periods two centuries apart. It follows Charles (the ancestor) and Adrien (his direct descendant), who lives in our current era, exploring the idea that families share a collective mind and often follow similar patterns – I am a big fan of Carl Jung.
Both characters are born into the upper echelons of society but do not really fit in this world, and Messages From an Adventurous Ancestor is the story of their lives. It will make the reader travel not only in time but also across the globe.
It’s fiction, but it does include bits and pieces of family history as well as some real-life experiences.
Tell us about your lockdown experience
I moved from central London to my native island of Mauritius just two days before the island went in full lockdown. I was in my beach house surrounded by birds and bats and hardly saw anyone – the island where I live is a place where people own holiday homes, which were of course empty.
I spent days on my own, which gave me ample time to start the book, with a few breaks where I went for a dip in the ocean. I visited my parents once a week, and this was my only contact with other humans for 10 weeks.
What made you start writing your lockdown novel?
My two companies went into lockdown along with everything else so I found myself with more time than I’ve had in my life. It had been 20 years since I flew to Mauritius without knowing the precise date I would go back to London.
Message from an Adventurous Ancestor had been on my mind for a few years, ever since I read about the story of my first ancestor (many years ago) who moved from Europe to Mauritius. With the world sailing in such unchartered waters, I felt that I had no reason not to start this long time project, which helped to keep me sane during this whole period.
How did you stay motivated?
I am a very determined person and I always finish what I start. Once I got going with Messages From an Adventurous Ancestor, I knew I would finish it. I wrote every day apart from the days I had a permit to visit my family, and I wrote for between four and 10 hours depending on my level of inspiration.
Once I had the story in mind, it just started flowing and I never went through a moment when I was stuck. I shared ideas with a few close friends and family members, and they helped keep me going. Zoom calls with a G&T were precious moments to share my ideas with friends in the UK and Europe.
What are your plans for lockdown 2?
I am lucky to still be in Mauritius. I cancelled my return to London when I realised the UK and Europe would go into a second lock down. A sequel is something I already have in mind, since many characters still have much to contribute. I may even get started on my second lockdown novel before the end of 2021.
When is the book released and how can people read it?
The book is released in the first week of December and will be available on all the major online channels including Amazon. It’s ironic that coronavirus – which made it possible for me to finally write the book – is also making it difficult to get it onto the shelves of traditional bookstores before Christmas, although I hold out hope that we will work something out!