A 92-year-old writer from Dublin came up with an original way for him and his neighbours to stay connected while in lockdown – no Facebook needed!
Alan Grainger from County Dublin rallied his neighbours who co-wrote a book as a way to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 92-year-old writer, who has been staying at home in his County Dublin apartment since the pandemic began, invited his neighbours to ‘relay write’ a murder mystery thriller with him.
With 11 writers in total, Mr Grainger’s idea has proved effective in staying close while keeping your distance over the past year.
Read on to find out more about this novel idea about the Dublin neighbours who co-wrote book to stay connected during pandemic.
Connected through words – staying apart, together
Seven residents of Old Connaught House, where Mr Grainger lives, along with his three daughters, have come together to write The Secrets of Beacon Court.
The original idea sees the eleven writers contribute one chapter each to the story and see where it ends up.
Speaking to RTÉ, Mr Grainger said, “When you get old, and you are locked in because of this damn disease, you sit and do a lot of thinking.”
Recalling the email he sent to his neighbours, he continued, “I remember the first line of the email. It said, ‘I’m bored.’”
What is relay writing – the concept explained
Explaining the idea behind ‘relay writing’, Mr Grainger told RTÉ, “Relay writing, well, it’s not unlike a relay race.
“You keep passing something on to the next person, and they carry it on to the one after that. In a book, someone writes the first chapter or a preface in our particular case.
“I had no idea whether they would think the idea was utterly daft or whether they would go for it. To my astonishment, they absolutely went for it.”
The Dublin neighbours who co-wrote a book to stay connected during lockdown have said they found the experience very therapeutic and a great distraction from what was going on around them.
A therapeutic experience – a great distraction
Derek Phillips, one of Mr Grainger’s neighbours, said that working on the novel “was a great distraction from Covid.
“The conversations were about the virus and the number of deaths and the number of cases, and when is the vaccine coming? Suddenly, that all went.
“We suddenly had these conversations about, ‘What are you doing with Bunty? or ‘What are you doing with the superintendent?’ or ‘Where are you going with this?’”
While each participant was asked to submit one chapter, as the Dublin neighbours co-wrote the book, each person was asked to submit their own ending, and an independent party would choose the most fitting one.
The Secrets of Beacon Court has been published on Amazon under the pen name Lotta Vokes, and Mr Grainger, who has received his COVID-19 vaccination, has plans for a relay-written follow-up.