Wigan-born author's new book based on nightmare Covid scenario

David Darbyshire, writing under the pen name Jon Richter, has released a new techno-thriller.
Author David DarbyshireAuthor David Darbyshire
Author David Darbyshire

Imagine Covid-19 could not be brought under control, but kept constantly mutating and forcing people to live in a permanent state of lockdown.

That is the nightmare scenario a Wigan-born author has created for his page-turning new techno-thriller.

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Set in the near future, the novel tells of a population having to come to terms with staying at home more or less all the time and grappling with a more high-tech lifestyle involving smart technology and AI such as the warden of the title, which runs an apartment building.

When a shocking murder happens, a retired detective who also suffers from agoraphobia who lives in the building discovers everything may not be what it seems on the surface.

Former Standish High pupil David acknowledges that putting the novel coronavirus in a fictional story may prove controversial for some readers but says he was driven to look at the possible implications of the unprecedented events since March 2020.

He said: “The Warden is my attempt to explore this crazy year and a half we’ve had with lockdown.

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“It may prove divisive for covering Covid in a fictional story, and it won’t be for everybody, but we’ve all had that shared experience and I wanted to explore it and write about it.

“I’ve seen some other writers saying they are pretending the virus never happened in books set in the present day.

“I totally get why they might want to do that, and it could be argued it’s quite soon for putting together Covid fiction, but I wanted to reflect on what has happened to us.

“We are starting to see the vanguard of virus-related fiction emerging now.

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“The protagonist in The Warden is trapped indoors because of the pandemic but also because of his own fears and neuroses.

“The murder means he has to leave the comfort of his self-imposed prison to solve the crime.

“He finds out the company that is behind this smart building and AI is maybe not entirely telling the truth and there are revelations to be unearthed.”

David describes The Warden as “part Black Mirror, part Die Hard” and says he was influenced by a number of high-concept thrillers set in a single high-rise block.

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He began writing the novel last April, soon after the first national lockdown began, and completed The Warden in around six months.

The plot and events of the thriller are also something of a send-up of contemporary corporate culture, which David admits were partly influenced by his own experiences of working in the finance industry.

The book has been brought out by Bloodhound Books, which has also published a couple of David’s previous works.

The Warden, by David Darbyshire (writing as Jon Richter) is out now. For more information about David’s writing visit www.jon-richter.com

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