In reading books, watching film or simply contemplating life in general, what does the phrase ‘Happy Ever After’ (HEA) mean to you? Is it skipping through a field of daisies in the sunshine? A great sporting triumph, making sense of prior adversity? Finding your soul mate in the great cosmic love affair? The White Wedding, surrounded by those you love and who love you? Four generations of a family celebrating Christmas together?

I write this as 2020, the year of the Covid 19 Pandemic, the year of schisms; physical, racial, generational and political, finally draws to a close. A year in which far too many have suffered the trauma of unspeakable loss, separated from those they love in their last moments.

This is not how we view the traditional weepy ending; grasping the hands of tear stained loved ones as we pass on our legacy. For many, passing alone in quarantine would have been their worst nightmare. Many others live alone with their fears, having never known the slightest whiff of happiness or being surrounded by love.

So, in this world, is there still room for the HEA?

A cynic might say that the myth of the HEA only leaves the majority disappointed and heartbroken, but, given that reality can, indeed, be harsh, does the HEA serve to provide a glimmer of hope, even if it’s only for a very lucky few?

My previous books, the fantasy Firestone Key and the sci-fi Canellian Eye trilogy, contain the possibility of redemption and love, although not all find it and the deserving do not always get their due – which tends to be the staple of the HEA.

The second draft of my latest sci-fi thriller has just headed off to story edits, but the writing of the narrative in the midst of such challenging times (and personal tragedy) has had a surprising effect on how the story unfolded. Conceived as a harsh serial killer thriller, my outline gradually gave way to much more humorous characterisations and, whilst not a traditional HEA (this is me, after all), has turned out far more hopeful.

May 2021 be the year that Covid 19 is beaten and the world finds a little more happiness, even if it’s not Ever After in this life.