At Home with Iona Whishaw

A Note from the publisher

We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.

Meet Iona

I’m Iona Whishaw, author of the Lane Winslow mysteries. I just cut short a holiday in Tucson and, upon my return to Canada, was told by my government to stay at home for…I can’t remember…did they say forever? It feels like it. The following diary is a sample of my first two days of GOSHing at home:

Government Ordained Sequestration at Home (GOSH…now this?!) 

Day One

5:35 Awake. Wish wasn’t.

6:15 Make pot of tea, go back to bed to read online papers. Fall into COVID-news- induced slump. Procrastinate. (Feel daily habit of procrastination important, especially in older age.)

8:30 Read through new writing project. Change name of man I’ve given four different names to across course of book to just one.

9:30 Near end of book-scanning, can’t remember which name I picked. Start again.

10:12 Go back to New York Times. Find article on not wasting food. This seems useful in these critical times. Might help me get up nerve to delve into terrifying freezer to see if anything edible. Learn useful tips about boiling corn cobs for refreshing cooling drink and boiling cheese rinds (Don’t be content with just the one you have…go to cheese store and make them give you more!) (when you can shop again, obviously) to add ‘subtle flavour’ to next soup. Also, blend leftovers to paste to add to next boiling soup for even more subtle flavour. Wonder if Monday’s tuna casserole will be good blended into today’s chicken soup. Surprised by amount of boiling called for in NYT.

10:45 Get up to go out and do morning HIIT in nearby woods. Do extra stretching so can leap anxiously away from passers-by on path.

12:00 Sit down to porridge and 0% fat Greek yogurt breakfast. Feel virtuous. Watch MSNBC. We are all going to hell in hand basket. Do Sudoku to calm self. Consider going over first draft of 2021 Lane Winslow book. Do another Sudoku. Wonder if there will be a 2021. Eat brownie found in freezer.

1:00 Clean up deck garden. Healthful sun lifts spirits.

2:00 Hot sun exhausts me. Time for cup of tea and a nice read.

3:00 Consider making fluffy buns as appear in new book, A Match Made For Murder, and a Cobb salad, invented in 1930s Hollywood. Instead, read interesting non-COVID-themed science article in NYT about 25,000-year-old giant building made of mammoth bones found in Russia. Wistfully think of how simple life was 25,000 years ago. Pop out for a few mammoths with hunting buddies, come home for barbecue and spot of leather tanning, then throw together bone house. Not like now. I still can’t figure out how my Tesla works. Will bake buns tomorrow.

5:00 Take bubble bath and watch Pride and Prejudice for 10th time. Life simple then too, though to paraphrase Tom Lehrer…by the time anyone in Austen’s time was my age, they’d been dead for twenty years.

7:00 Watch YouTube video of puppies on airport people mover walking to Bee Gees five times. Note lack of people at airport. Burn dinner.

8:30 Collapse in front of TV exhausted with day’s social-distancing activities.

10:30 Am woken up and made to go to bed by patient husband. GOSH…another day tomorrow…

Day Two

5:05 Awake. Wish wasn’t. Identify beeping sound as message. Cousin in France who doesn’t have World Clock on phone.

6:20 Finish messaging with cousin who has to pay 125 euros if she leaves her house for frivolous reason, like more milk. She fills time messaging to avoid fine. Make pot of tea. Go back to bed to procrastinate. Daily practice is paying off. It is becoming easier. Delighted to find non-COVID science article about bird fossil 66 million years old called Wonderchicken. 66 million years ago also a simpler time than now. Surprised to learn they had chickens. Puts me in mind of freezer. Do I have chicken? And how old is it?

8:00 Start work on writing project. Realize only like writing story. Don’t like making sure there aren’t two different chapters both called Seven. Will correct chapter headings after making fluffy rolls.

10:30 Eat breakfast of eggs and toast from dwindling bread supply. Forget fluffy rolls. Must make bread. Television assures me world going to hell in even bigger hand basket. Tackle Sudoku. Feel only marginally better.

12:00 Watch tear-inducing video of Italians playing music to each other on balconies. Go onto deck and contemplate singing to neighbours, but remember my own mother telling me my singing sounded like orphans dying in a fire. Seek solace in re-numbering chapters after all.

2:00 Two hours, re-did all chapter headings and now have two chapters called Twenty-One. Can’t understand it. Finally get around to bread. Remember cousin said she had cleaned whole house and polished woodwork. Look at woodwork and tell it to piss off.

3:45 Tea on sunny balcony. Feel better. Sun delightful.

4:00 Sun too hot. Go for long walk listening to P.G. Wodehouse to get steps and feel cheered. Realize left Fitbit at home. Know that’s the same as not getting steps. Feel uncheered.

5:06 Disinfect all the doorknobs to pass the time while bath filling. Begin to wonder what Lane Winslow would do in this sort of emergency. She wouldn’t hang around listlessly thinking she ought to polish the woodwork. [Click here to see how she would.]

5:30 Bubble bath. Remember that before personal devices used to read books in bath. Remember dropping books in bath. Remember library not being happy. Watch Father Brown. Ah, a simpler time, and lovely frocks.

7:00 Supper. Relieved supper made in instant pot hard to burn. Watch three episodes of Picard. Realize COVID-19 era will seem like charmingly simpler time in year 2399.

10:30 Wake up and so to bed, as Pepys used to say…



Not only did Iona wonder about what Lane might do during an outbreak in King’s Cove, she also wrote it. For an exclusive short story about how Lane Winslow and Eleanor Armstrong help their community through a particularly nasty flu, check out Lane Winslow and the Outbreak at King’s Cove.

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