Each one of my Caitlyn Jamison mysteries has been serendipitous. In An Unexpected Death I wanted environmental issues as my main plot line. At first I hadn’t defined what that issue would be, but as my characters were developed, and the story took shape, I started to see articles about hydraulic fracturing. Since my mystery was set in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, following this environmental issue was a natural. Between articles in the Economist and the local New York papers, I had plenty of material from which to draw.
Then I embarked on my second book, Fatal Dose. I wanted to do something different. The opioid issue was beginning to be a social issue, so I chose that. Again, as the characters and plot line were developed, the opioid epidemic exploded and was all over the news. Again, a lot of research material.
For the third book, The Death of Cassie White I wanted to deal with a little known topic in which I could educate my readers. I mean, how many people knew about the vast uranium deposit in southwestern Virginia? I thought that would be a unique plot line. And it was. Except. When I was well into the book, an article appeared in our local Fredericksburg, Virginia paper describing how a mining company was trying to get the uranium ore mining moratorium put in place by the Virginia legislature in the 1980s overturned. Yikes!!! Serendipitous.
Well over a year ago I decided to write a suspense story. The setting would be Savannah, Georgia. Maybe I’d work in some ghosts. I needed an interesting, but scary plot line. My mind went back to about 2005 when I attended a library program on pandemics. The presentation was by a local doctor who was part of a team consisting of doctors in Western Connecticut and New York to educate the public and develop plans for - not if but when - a pandemic hits. The talk was fascinating. Dr. Dworkin explained how sickness would be a domino effect as truck drivers fell ill (cutting down on delivery of goods), water treatment plant employees not coming to work, the number of potentially ill people needing hospital beds versus how many actual beds are available in area hospitals. It was eye opening and scary. I went home and started my pandemic pantry, which Dr. Dworkin suggested hold enough food for three months. This, of course, would include all supplies you might need, medicines, pet food, etc.
Over a year ago I decided this subject would be the plot line for my new book.
Is it serendipitous that as I am well into my story we are faced with a possible pandemic from the corona virus?
Lesson learned - be careful of future plot line decisions.