More than 50 Janklow & Nesbit authors have contributed pieces to a project on the importance of storytelling in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Contributions have come from writers including Michel Faber, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Jasper Fforde, Olivia Laing and Will Storr. The results are being published on the literary agency's website in a bid to “cultivate a sense of community”, at a time of social distancing.
It is introduced with a piece by The Science of Storytelling (William Collins) author Will Storr, who kicks off with a parallel between the pandemic and “the three acts of archetypal storytelling” – crisis, struggle and resolution.
He writes: “What we don't know right now is how far along we are in act two,” he says. “But one thing the coronavirus emergency does clearly demonstrate is that the way stories are told naturally reflects how we experience our lives. It's in this way that story gives me hope. In all the great heroic tales, damage is done, but a new and better world comes to view in the end.”
Janklow & Nesbit agent Hellie Ogden (pictured) said storytelling becomes more important and powerful than ever at a time of national emergency.
She explained: “The crisis has reminded us all – if ever we needed a reminder – why it matters. People are desperately searching for inspiring words and storytelling can be essential to our collective mental wellbeing. Ultimately, stories make us feel human and connected with others, which we’ve all been craving during lockdown and social distancing.
“The initial idea was to bring Janklow & Nesbit writers closer during a time of such uncertainty and when we were all so far apart physically, but it soon became clear that this was becoming a more universal piece,” added Ogden. “Having an insight into how writers think creatively has always fascinated the public at large.”
Ogden added that the current crisis would change reading habits long term. She said: “E-book and audio books sales have risen massively – and lockdown will be the catalyst that makes retailers and publishers really step up their digital game. It’s a trend that’s been a long time coming, but it will quicken now.
“It’s important for agencies and publishers to cultivate a sense of community, belonging and family among their writers – and this initiative has helped bring us together.”
“We wanted do something as an agency to unite us and the result is a collection of beautiful, inspiring lockdown musings.”