New anthology provides insight into COVID from an elderly perspective – Stittsville Central

(Stittsville resident Ann McMillan will launch ‘Plague Take It’, a new novel written with Jon Peirce, on November 9 in Stittsville.)

The newly released Plague Take It: A COVID almanac by and about the elderly marks a bold new direction in writing about COVID. The 475-page book contains over 70 works (whether short stories, memoirs, plays, essays or poems) from 50 authors, with pieces in both English and French.

Co-editors Ann McMillan and Jon Peirce, both published authors, perceived the idea for the first time in December 2020. In recognition of how so many felt they were “a prisoner of the virus,” Ann discussed the idea with Jon of getting stories from others about their experience. “There did not seem to be much, if anything, about the social history of the pandemic – the effects it had on the daily lives of ordinary citizens,” Jon explains. “There did not seem to be any literature on it either the effects of COVID on seniors and the disabled, two groups particularly hard hit by the pandemic;. “

Ann explained the process she and Jon went through to get posts, which started with the co-editors reaching out to their respective cadres of writing friends. Ann states that she had to dig a lot more than Jon when it came to finding writers. While Jon has been writing throughout her career, Ann was originally an engineer and scientist before deciding to write after retirement.

But when word first came that the two were accepting contributions, “it was a bit like a snowball rolling down the hill,” Ann says. First, local writers’ communities were reached in Ottawa, Gatineau, and eastern Ontario, and eventually spread to the United States and other parts of Canada. So many contributors – not just from the author world – submitted works. People from the music world contributed, as did creatives in the arts, with a painter submitting a work that now serves as the book’s cover. The co-editors did not lack for posts, and they unfortunately had to reject some. Ann “was sorry to reject any of them.”

Submissions were suspended in May and the next few months were dedicated to production. The book is divided into sections, each of which has an internal theme. Ann says the process was “a lot of fun, but a lot more stressful than any of us thought it would be.” After finding one Ottawa Publishers, Loose Cannon Press (a name Ann jokes fits perfectly with the book) that putting it all together became “an adventure.” Maintaining each author’s voice throughout the editing process was an important goal, and Ann really credits listening to each author as being very helpful in making sure this happened.

“Through the art of storytelling, this almanac describes COVID from a different perspective, a perspective that will survive the aftermath of the pandemic. It is important to include such experiences in the COVID literature, and I think this book will fill these gaps quite fine, ”Ann explains.

Reminiscent of the book that went “from a twinkle in the eye to printed in less than a year” when Ann had the opportunity to read Plague Take It in its entirety, she realized that the cumulative emotional effect is much greater than by reading each story individually. “It’s like a whole rainbow of emotions,” she describes.

A book launch and signing will take place at the Amberwood Lounge and Eatery (54 Springbrook Drive, Stittsville) on November 9thth 12.00. Since over twenty of the book’s contributors are from the area, it seemed appropriate to host the event in Stittsville.

Plague Take It can be purchased on Amazon.


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