Date Published: 3/26/21
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Following a global pandemic, which has either killed or weakened most of the male population, women now dominate all aspects of life.
Dr. Morgan Digby, married to a man rendered bedbound from his bout with manflu a decade prior, is working tirelessly on a vaccine, yet obstacles keep springing up in her path.
When she meets a handsome neighbor who has never been exposed to the deadly virus, things become…complicated. There’s something between them, but he can’t leave his home.
Morgan’s struggle to remain faithful to her ailing husband isn’t her only battle. Someone has been one step ahead of her, countering her every move. Will she find a vaccine before it’s too late to protect those she loves?
About the Author
Simone de Muñoz writes dystopian, or perhaps utopian, fiction, depending on your perspective, where women drive the story and sometimes even run the world. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in economics from MIT, which she uses in her day job as a data analyst at a nonprofit. Based in Silicon Valley, she lives with her patient husband, their two young sons, and a grumpy dog named Fish. Manflu is her debut novel.
Morgan Digby woke up groggy from her usual nap as her self-driving, electric car pulled into the driveway of her small suburban house. She had dreamt that her husband Jonas was walking toward her on a crowded sidewalk, cradling a baby in his arms. If only any small part of that dream had the remotest possibility of coming true, Morgan could be happy.
She stretched and brushed her black bangs out of her eyes, feeling the hollow spaces beneath them with her fingertips. Tired from a busy day working at the lab on the manflu vaccine, the nap prepared her for the long evening of caretaking that lay ahead. Her husband Jonas was mostly bedridden after his bout with the pandemic ten years ago. His body no longer actively fought an infection, but he would never be the same.
Morgan was about to enter her house when she saw her neighbor put down her garden rake and cross the street to chat. Sarah, like many women nowadays, no longer bothered with a bra. Her full, bouncing breasts, barely covered by a thin, V-neck t-shirt, drew the eye. An image quickly flashed through Morgan’s mind of a time years before when Sarah had pressed those breasts against her and leaned over to kiss her on the lips. Morgan quickly shook her head to clear the thought.
“Morgan, big news!” said Sarah when she was within gossip range. “Beth’s nephew came to stay with her. He’s a Vulny. I got a glimpse of him through the curtains, and he is a hunk and a half. Pale, obviously. About 5’10” with black, curly hair and surprisingly muscular. He must spend a lot of time lifting weights. I’m charging my vibro3000 as we speak.”
Wow, a Vulny! Morgan had never seen one before. Vulnies were the men who had never gotten manflu and were therefore still vulnerable to it. These men could not go out in public for fear of being infected, thus the pale skin. Women could be infected as well as transmit the virus to others; however, they experienced very mild cold-like symptoms and quickly recovered. Both men and women who had previously been infected could not contract the virus again; however, men with post-manflu viral syndrome were immunocompromised and at high risk of contracting other infections.
Morgan immediately thought of the vaccine she was working on, and she wondered if this man could be a test subject for it when it was completed. She wanted to rush over to Beth’s house right away to meet him and find out more, but she couldn’t. Jonas waited inside for her to make his dinner, bathe him, and keep him company. She was accustomed to putting aside her own desires to care for her husband, but she still felt a sting of disappointment each time.
Simone de Muñoz
Author of Manflu
March 16, 2021
After the 2016 election, I felt an emotion that I had never felt before–rage. It was scary. I had to find a safe place for those feelings, so I started to write. In my fiction, women weren’t the victims of misogynistic men and a patriarchal society–they were powerful heroes. If women couldn’t come out on top in real life, they could in my fiction. I slowly thought about sharing my writing with the world–maybe other women could read my work and feel the possibility of this power.
I had the idea for my novel, Manflu in the summer of 2019. The “Me Too” movement was in full swing and I thought, what if there was a way to get these men out of power and replace them with women? What would the world look like if women were in charge? I came up with the idea of a pandemic that weakened or killed men. I started writing down my thoughts, centering the story around a married researcher seeking a vaccine for manflu when she meets a handsome neighbor who has never been infected. And only a few short months later, Covid hit!
I attended my first writing conference in February of 2020 right before the US basically shut down. I met the women who would eventually publish my book at that conference and I remember them saying, “This concept is so timely, you have to get the book written as soon as possible.” We had no idea what was coming because there were hardly any known cases of Covid in the US at that time. However, it was clear that the pandemic was about to affect us all. Despite a full-time job and family obligations, I wrote as quickly as I could to take advantage of the moment.
I found myself in the midst of a pandemic, writing about a pandemic. For a while, all I thought about were viruses as I researched pandemics, tried to keep my family safe from Covid, and worked to help clients affected economically by the pandemic at my nonprofit job. I finished writing the book in the fall of 2020, right around the time it became clear that my children wouldn’t return to in-person school for the 2020-21 school year.
My hope is that I have ultimately created a novel that is timely, and yet a break from the pandemic-restricted world that we are all still living in right now, and that Manflu helps to empower women to dream of a different society where they are in charge. It is always a good time for sexy, escapist fiction featuring diverse characters and a strong female lead and it is an especially apt moment for Manflu.
I’m a writer. A fiction writer. And right now my world, and everyone else’s, has been highly modified nonfictionally by a situation I never imagined would happen: The Covid 19 pandemic.
Because I’m a fiction writer, my mind is always spiraling with ideas for new stories. At the moment I think I’ll have three new books published next year: two Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels plus a potentially stand-alone mystery that I’m currently writing.
All that keeps my mind and my fingers busy. But that mind of mine–well, when I’m not focused on what I’m writing, I’m always considering potential new ideas. They kind of just slip into my thoughts based on things I see or do, or don’t see or do but still tiptoe in and become creative plots or people or pets.
Or unusual backgrounds…
Yes, I’ve already done a blog here not too long ago about what to include, and what not to include, in stories. I focused more there on whether or not to include references in what I’m already writing to the pandemic and other current issues it has been causing.
Now, I’m wondering whether I ought to write something new that features the pandemic and how it involves a protagonist, probably in a mystery. At least my mind keeps telling me to consider it.
If I did, would people want to read it, or would they rather stay away from awful things like that which are affecting their real lives–even fictionalized versions of it?
Don’t know yet–but I’m kind of leaving my mind loose to consider it.
What do you think–would you want to read about it?
Because it’s me, the story would also most likely involve dogs, who are now being recognized as wonderful companions as we all stay far from others outside our households a whole lot more than we used to.
But of course no dogs would be harmed.
We’re still in the midst of the pandemic that has affected us for more than six months now. People get sick, and fortunately many heal . . . though not everyone does. And it’s affected us in ways beyond illness–economically, for example.
Even when things seem to improve some, they don’t always stay that way. Sometimes they get worse again. We still don’t know when things will settle down and start resembling normal once more.
And as a writer, I’m wondering when to use all of this.
Right now I’m still working on my third book in the long-running Colton series for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, featuring characters in one of the many branches of the Colton family spread all over the country. I’ve known what has to happen in this one, and that’s what I’ve done.
But I’m also plotting some other ideas. Stories that will take place at least a little in the future.
Should I mention the pandemic? The social unrest? What it’s all done to our economy?
Or should I assume that readers will prefer that I don’t go there, that I ignore all that nasty stuff and just create my own issues in my stories, the way I used to?
I’m pondering all of that even as I plot. But like everything else these days, who knows what the future will bring–and if things will ever return to what had been deemed normal before?
Of course, as a writer, I want to satisfy my readers. It’s okay to scare them in romantic suspense and mysteries, but we need satisfying endings in which all gets resolved in a reasonable, acceptable, perhaps optimistic way. Never mind what happens in real life. I write fiction!
Well, I’ll figure it out and decide which direction to go in each story I write.
And hope that reality gets better even as my stories continue.
Travel back through time with Carynn Cinnamon as she embraces romance, witchery, mystery, and joyMore info →
How do you heal a broken heart?More info →
A chilling thriller that explores what happens when reality and nightmares converge, and how far one will go to protect the innocent when their own brain is a threat.More info →
Jilted by love in 1834, Cara Lindsay sails from Boston to Mexico’s rugged California to begin a new life with a favorite aunt.More info →