Former Fleet Street sports journalist Stuart Brodkin is getting through the Covid-19 lockdown by writing a novel for his family and friends.
Mr Brodkin, who has not been allowed out of his Edgware home because of his age and underlying health conditions, decided to start work on a novel so he could send out several chapters a week to stop people from becoming bored.
“I was at a bit of a loose end, like a lot of people, so I thought producing a book might help while away the hours,” said Mr Brodkin, who retired from his job on the racing desk at the Daily Express last June.
“It’s called The Hereafter and the main character is a Jewish guy who is killed in a car crash on the motorway and ends up in Heaven. That’s it really, but I am not going to give away the plot. I’m just trying to show what ‘life’ might be like up there. At least no one is going to contradict me.
“I’ve had the idea in my head for several years but lockdown seemed an ideal time to get started on it. I’m currently writing about one chapter a day and if I can keep that up I reckon I should be finished about mid-July or even earlier.”
Mr Brodkin, who has had five books published, including a ghostwritten autobiography of retail mogul Theo Paphitis called Enter The Dragon, decided to thread the current pandemic into the book’s plot.
“I introduce one character quite early on who is a Chinese woman, who died from the virus,” said Mr Brodkin. “She ran a laboratory in Tianjin, which is a long way from the epicentre in Wuhan but unfortunately she still caught it.”
He said his family and friends were enjoying it so far. “I started off sending it out to about 10 ‘subscribers’ and although some of them have dropped away, I still have six loyal readers!
“Although two or three of the principal characters are Jewish, they are all in the same family and it’s not a Jewish story as such.
“So I did send it to a non-Jewish friend of mine in Manchester and he came straight back to query why we eat boiled eggs after a funeral. Of course, I hadn’t explained it in the text so it was a useful bit of proof reading/editing. I’ve put that right now.
“There have been lots of other examples of corrected spelling and I’ve been surprised how helpful my subscribers have been. One or two have even suggested changes to the plot but they were turned down immediately.
“I haven’t thought about talking to any publishers just yet. I think things are pretty uncertain in the book world at present but I would love to find someone who would publish it once it’s finished.
“If it ever makes it commercially, I am going to donate half of any profits to medical charities.”