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Welcome to this April 2020 edition of Hackwriters. 21 years on-line, 7700+ articles - reviews - stories - travel - share any feature you like and pass them on using the links. Archive Edition

*As of April 3rd around 1,034,000 have been infected worldwide, with 54,495 deaths. Take comfort that over 220,000 have recovered. To say the world isn't ready for this is an understatement. Outside of Germany there is an amazing lack of testing kits, hazmat suits, masks, ventilation kits. We must respect and give full credit top the brave doctors and nurses and ambulance crews who are working all hours to contain this pandemic. **If you personally know a healthcare professional it can't hurt to send them a text to say thank you and that you are thinking of them right now. (Worldometers.info)


EDITORIAL: New World Order?

We live in sobering times with around 11 million Americans registering for unemployment benefits and another three million still trying to get them on the phone or register on-line. In the UK a million registered this week alone and it can only get worse. Luckily we still have essential workers doing their jobs in healthcare and keeping the country running such as producing electricity and keeping the food warehouses full. But after lining up to buy food today and coming home with Polish mushrooms and other foodstuffs, I'm thinking don't the Poles need food too? As things get worse, will Poland keep sending food to the UK and elsewhere. There's something to think on as you drink your coffee from South America or tea from India or Africa where a brutal lockdown is in progress. Due to the lockdown right now farmworkers aren't allowed to harvest the grapes for the South African vineyards. The 2020 vintage will be very rare indeed if it exists at all.

On Wednesday I drove along Britain’s motorways reassuringly filled with trucks filled with food being distributed across the UK and very few private cars.  Why am I not at home self-isolating? Well I’ve been nursing a family member who had a terrible kidney infection and shingles at the same time and of course no nurses and Doctors were available to care – all priority given to dealing with the virus.  Keeping someone fed and clean when they are old and alone is so important.  I dread to think how many other old people are out there getting no help at all.  If you know one, a neighbour maybe, please check they are ok. Luckily now my sister is well enough to feed herself – I had to leave or face lockdown with her for possibly months in a small apartment.  My thoughts kept going to an empty home that would be vulnerable to thieves.  She is probably cross I have left but I suspect just a tiny bit relieved to get her home back to herself.

It’s kind of ironic for someone like me, who has spent a lifetime often writing dystopian fiction, to be living it – just like you are right now.  On the whole people are behaving a lot better than they do in my stories, but it’s early days yet.  People are scared but definitely maintaining a good distance when you walk by for your daily walk.  I shall miss Beckenham Palace Park where I have been strolling these past few days and the occasional glimpse of the foxes.
Today I think of my niece stranded on the 56th floor of her apartment building in New York - terrified to go outside and wondering if she'll have a office to go back to. I think too of my cousin Catherine, married to Darius Brubeck - who is facing his third week of being on a ventilator - not a good sign. A prayer for Darius wouldn't come amiss. I enjoyed his last concert on March 5th - but wonder about his brothers Chris, Matt and Dave who were on stage with him.

Everyone is now thinking about ‘after the virus’; it’s more comforting than dwelling on the ever-rising daily death tolls in the UK, USA and elsewhere.  We know it’s bad and will get worse, but we all want to think about the time when we feel safe again.

Some people think we will resume where we left off.  Get on a plane and head to the beaches in summer.  Some are thinking that they hate working at home in a crowded space with screaming kids and can’t wait to lock themselves in an office again.  But of course – so many companies are going to go bust – there may not be jobs to go back to.  There may not be airlines available to fly you to the beach and the hotels may have also gone under.  Zoom might be the early signal that office blocks are doomed. Certainly 5G will have something to say about that as it rolls out.

* There's an article in The Times (3.4.20) today by James Dean about that. An average midtown Manhattan office for 100 people (15,000 sq ft) costs $1.1 million a year to rent. Power, gas, water internet and phone adds $6 per sq ft or $90.000 a year. Cleaning another $20,000 so in fact $1.2 million to run an office. If that 100 people work from home they don't commute, no lunches have to be paid for, add Zoom for conference calls and the savings run to millions. Do the math if just half the companies decided to go virtual instead of real time office rental. The collapse in office building values would be catastrophic for the banks. I'm not saying this will happen but it 'could'.

Take Cars for example.  The longer this shut down goes on – the less people will be able to make their lease payments.  The leasing companies will be faced with hundreds of thousands of motorists handing their keys back.  Secondhand car prices will plummet. (Yes there will be bargains to be had).  Fully ninety percent of car ‘ownership’ is by lease in the UK - probably just as high in the USA. Who on earth will buy a ‘new’ car in 20/21 when there will be so many nearly new 40% cheaper repo's on the forecourts?  Bang go the car manufacturers and the hundreds of thousand jobs associated with new car production. And this is in addition to all those enviromental regulations they keep introducing to deter us from buying diesel or petrol cars. Why buy electric when oil is less than $30 a barrel? History repeats itself. I might remind you that as electric cars grew more popular in the USA in 1909 to 1915, Rockefeller lowered the price of oil to put the electric cars out of business.

You can write a disaster scenario for white goods, furniture, clothes, you name it for the next year.  I don’t have to write dystopian fiction anymore – we will continue to live it for quite some time.

If I’m wrong.  Hooray.  I would love to be wrong.  But what if I’m not?  Right now you’re thinking if only I was a civil servant with a guaranteed job and pension… The good news - they are recruiting.

Here’s to getting to the end of April intact.

Sam © Sam Hawksmoor April 3rd 2020
Meanwhile – do take time to read or download our Pandemic novel set in Canada and Mexico.
a quick taster here The Last Ferry
from ‘Another Place to Die: The Endtime Chronicles’. Print or Kindle.

Or try the classic plague novel whilst incarcerated on the sofa 'La Peste' by Albert Camus.

They won’t cure you but might just help you survive and help pass the time.

Read Girl with Cat (Blue) - 'funny, scary and full of surprises - a must read' LD

*Keeping Hackwriters archived is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
Magenta - A chilling story of kidnapping, burning and strangeness set in the wilds of Lincolnshire
The Sam North Novels - still available to order on Lulu or Amazon
** The Heaviness, also recommended & The Repercussions of Tomas D -'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'

By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
There's no place to hide

Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Can you get ahead of the virus?

Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die: Endtime will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...'
Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk

Another Place To Die

Girl with Cat (Blue) Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award

'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.

'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
Judge, 26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. - Honorable Mention

J&K 4Ever - A post-apocalypse love story
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect.  A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder.  No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted.  But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge. 
 'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
Marikka MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2

Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book

Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk
Repercussions Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download

The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here

'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible with alternative facts '

*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity. An original Genie Magee story

Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies

'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print

Thanks to readers who have been buying this title. . * Also published as Rüya by Marti Yayincilik - The Turkish publishers of TOZ & Golge
The Heaviness of Genie Magee

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