Writer’s Block? A Pandemic Doesn’t Help, Say Metro Detroit Authors

Culture Shift’s Jeff Milo spoke with three Metro Detroit authors with books coming out on how the COVID-19 has affected writing, publishing and staying motivated.

Photo credit: Jessica Ruscello/Unsplash

Stuck inside during coronavirus, Michiganders are learning to deal with prolonged isolation and lack of social contact during the coronavirus pandemic. 

One might we say, they’re learning the writerly lifestyle. 

“You have all this time, you’re at home, but then you sit down and do it, and it’s not like you’re feeling your best.” – Josh Malerman, author

The cloistered writer is a common archetype, and in some cases is true. But local writers aren’t necessarily celebrating newfound time at home. In fact, they’re just as worried as everyone else. 

Photo Illustration by Jeff Milo
Photo Illustration by Jeff Milo

Culture Shift’s Jeff Milo reached out to three Metro Detroit authors with books set to be published and released in the near future, to discuss the ways in which the coronavirus outbreak has impacted the publishing and bookselling world, and, facing what could be more than three weeks at home, how they stay motivated to keep writing.

Click the players below to hear three Metro Detroit authors on writing during the coronavirus crisis.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date

WDET is here to keep you informed on essential information, news and resources related to COVID-19.

This is a stressful, insecure time for many. So it’s more important than ever for you, our listeners and readers, who are able to donate to keep supporting WDET’s mission. Please make a gift today.

Donate today »

Josh Malerman

“I wrote that book while we were in quarantine, I made that movie when I was stuck at home.”

Brian Rozman
Brian Rozman

Josh Malerman is a New York Times Bestselling Author of imaginative horror-suspense novels like “Unbury Carol” and “Inspection,” and perhaps best known as the mind behind “Bird Box,” the novel source material for the breakthrough Netflix film. 

He says to get inspired, he puts on an album to get in the mood, reminds himself that staying at home is staying safe, and focuses on the accomplishment he’ll look back on later in life. 

“I wrote that book while we were in quarantine, I made that movie when I was stuck at home,” he says. “You can find inspiration there.”

In a few months, Malerman’s “Bird Box” sequel, “Malorie,” is due for release  on Penguin Randomhouse.

Michael Zadoorian

“Boy is it hard to sit there and focus on a fictional project, when crazy new things are happening every hour.”

Michael Zadoorian is the author of the “Leisure Seeker,” which was adapted into a film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. 

Zadoorian uses his writing as a reinforcement tool to stay productive. 

“What works for me is, I’ll feel worse if I don’t do my work for that day,” Zadoorian says. “If I’m already feeling distracted, depressed or stressed, not doing my work will make me feel even worse.”

His books contain compelling character studies full of contemplative reverie and local history, and there’s always a Detroit connection.

That’s true with his brand new novel, set for a May release, titled “The Narcissism of Small Differences,” on Akashic Books.

Kathe Koja

“As a writer, I’ve been self-isolating for a very long time. The solitude I’m good with.”

Kathe Koja is a multifaceted artist of the written word, creating in the genres of short-fiction, horror, young adult literature and beyond, along with facilitating performances for an immersive theatre troupe.

Koja says she has been connecting with fans and other writers to stay grounded.

“The process of getting the work into people’s hands and minds and hopefully hearts, that is a lot easier than it’s ever been,” Koja says. “To keep in touch with readers and writers, it’s a lot easier and better than it used to be. You get the feeling that we are in this together.”

Her next collection of short fiction, “Velocities,” is set to come out in less than a month, on Meerkat Press.


  • Jeff Milo
    Jeff Milo is the host of "MI Local" on 101.9 WDET. He's a longtime music journalist documenting the Michigan scene for 20 years.