Coronavirus lockdown: Authors battle to publish the first Covid-19 bestseller


The manuscript, imagining a global pandemic sending London into lockdown, had languished in the author’s bottom draw for 15 years.

Now thriller writer Peter May is claiming to be the first novelist to publish a fictional response to the coronavirus crisis.

Authors are rushing to dust off dystopian tales which might once have joined the list of great unpublished novels. 

High street bookshops might be closed but self-publishing eBooks has never been easier and Amazon’s Dystopian chart has recorded a spike in Kindle sales.

First out of the blocks is Peter May with Lockdown, a novel set in London under a martial law quarantine, which has been rushed into print by publishers Quercus.

Nightingale hospital prediction

Inspired by the 2005 H5N1 “bird flu” pandemic, May began constructing a crime story about a police detective investigating the murder of a child, whose bones are found at the site of a temporary hospital built to combat a deadly flu (predicting London’s NHS Nightingale Hospital), which has afflicted 25 per cent of the population.