Magazine

'Manflu' spreads: Former MV resident releases debut novel

For many people, the pandemic has been an opportunity to explore new interests. For Simone de Muñoz, it was writing a book.

The former Mountain View resident’s debut novel, “Manflu,” was released March 26 by Acorn Publishing. It tells the story of Dr. Morgan Digby, a vaccine researcher in a time when women run the world after a pandemic has killed or weakened most of the world’s men. As Digby rushes to find a vaccine for manflu, her world quickly becomes more complicated as she cares for her sick husband and meets a new neighbor vulnerable to the disease.

Simone de Muñoz
De Muñoz

Given the timing of the book’s release, one might expect de Muñoz – who works as a principal analyst for Mountain View’s Community Services Agency – was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, not exactly.

While the book draws from the current global situation by detailing the experiences of essential workers amid a pandemic, de Muñoz said she was actually inspired by her experience in public policy and by the political climate in the U.S. – particularly after the 2016 election.

“I was thinking about a new creative project, and I had the idea that all these men in power have maybe not been doing the best job,” the San Francisco resident said. “What would happen if women were in charge? I thought, you know, ‘What if there’s a pandemic that only impacts men, and we can move them out of the way and give women a chance to be leaders and run the country?’”

Firsthand experience

De Muñoz said her background in public policy – and working daily with those who come to CSA for assistance – helped her visualize situations that she worked into her novel. Her job gave her more insight into people’s experiences and how public policy directly affected them.

“We lost a lot of volunteers that were in the high-risk groups, so I was helping in the food pantry for the first few months of the pandemic,” she said. “I saw that there were these two worlds: the tech world that we have in Silicon Valley – people who are doing really well, people who can work from home – and then the world of people who need services, people who are struggling, people who work in the service sector.”

The author said her firsthand experience and zeal to represent the world with women in charge fueled the writing of the novel and the characteristics of the main character, Dr. Morgan Digby.

“We had politicians like Trump calling the virus the ‘China flu,’” de Muñoz said. “As a reaction to that, the main character who is finding this vaccine is actually Chinese American. We’re seeing a lot of Asian attacks and bias right now, and my book is going to show what Asian Americans can do, looking to the positives that people bring.”

With more people at home and having more time to read, de Muñoz hopes they will support her book, which she described as a “timely pandemic novel” and a “needed escape.”

“This is not a book where you’re going to feel bogged down,” she said. “The pace is quick and there’s a love story; there’s a lot going on that will just take you outside of your life. I’d say the target audience is women of all ages, who will really be able to relate to this main character, getting so much done despite difficult circumstances.”

To purchase “Manflu,” visit Amazon.com or order it at local bookstores. 

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