“It’s usually a mistake for a fiction writer to rush into print with a story that takes flight, imaginatively, from events that are still underway, and which are affecting large numbers of people. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, this injunction to keep out would seem to be as strident as the black-and-yellow striped tape swagged about a crime scene.
“What moved me to nonetheless ignore all warnings and respond fictionally was twofold: an editor who I deeply respect – Alex Bilmes at British Esquire – asked me to; and I already had an embryonic tale, which, once I began considering the matter, extended into my fervid psyche, like the lengthening protein ‘spike’ on a coronavirus virion.
“‘All Actors Have Died’ existed in my mind in the form of this title alone – and trailing behind it came a half-formed set of ideas about the relation between mediatisation and dissimulation which were brought into the sharpest of focus by the pandemic. So it is, that I can imagine having written the story even if the pandemic hadn’t been underway at the time – although I worry, if I had, it would’ve been a fiction that might’ve summoned this reality …”
Read Will’s short story ‘All Actors Have Died’, published in Esquire‘s Summer Fiction issue and read by James Nesbitt here.