The World’s Deadliest Pestilence Wreaks Havoc on a Small Pennsylvania Community in Bestselling Novelist Marian Rizzo’s Prescient New Novel, Plague

Author Marian Rizzo and WordCrafts Press are celebrating the release of Rizzo’s new historical medical thriller, Plague.

Set against the backdrop of the misnamed Spanish Flu, the deadliest worldwide pandemic in recorded history, Plague explores the all too familiar experiences of fear of the unknown, isolation from friends and neighbors, forced quarantine, and the seeming inability of medical science to do anything to slow the relentless ravages of a devastating disease. While the big cities appear to be the major battlegrounds, no one is safe from the plague. Not even in the bucolic village of Sawmill, Pennsylvania.

“By the time the sickness came to our sleepy little village of Sawmill, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1918, the influenza had already become a worldwide pandemic. Scientists agreed, it was an influenza unlike any the world had ever experienced in the past,” recalls Rosie Gallagher, through whose eyes the tale is told.

“We lived in a rural community where the air was fresh and clean. Our folks were going about their usual business—farmers growing crops, raising livestock and chickens, milking cows and gathering eggs. Family-owned businesses kept the foot traffic flowing through the downtown area where David Cowell ran the general store and post office, and individual retailers sold ladies’ apparel, men’s work boots, and household items of all sorts. Children went to school during the week or gathered in the playground on the weekends. The Rialto held stage plays and concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. And two churches—one Catholic, the other Lutheran—hosted services and town meetings.

“The ladies’ sewing club met every Tuesday. The men’s Rotary Club met for Wednesday morning breakfasts. Farmers attended Grange meetings. Neighbors gathered for potluck suppers and afternoon teas. With a population of about 1,400 people, everybody knew nearly everybody else. We were like one big, happy family, living in different houses, but available to each other when needed. We held barn raisings, outdoor festivals, and church picnics.

“You might say we lived in our own secluded little Shangri-La, never suspecting that a silent killer was about to drag us into hell.”

“I lived through two other pandemics: the Hong Kong Flu of 1968 and the Asian Flu of 1957,” Rizzo notes. “In my research I went further back in time to 1918 (long before I was born) and discovered the so-called Spanish Flu. Sources revealed many similarities to Covid-19. Back then, city officials mandated the wearing of masks, the shutting of public places, the closing of schools and churches, and the banning of gatherings. Sound familiar? Throw into the mix a doctor and his wife, and take them through the same struggles we experience today, and we have a novel laced with historical facts. The Spanish Flu lasted two years and had three waves. Covid is now in it’s second wave. The three previous pandemics have long been forgotten. I hope readers will come away enlightened and encouraged that this, too, is temporary, for God is in control, and a better tomorrow lies on the horizon.”

About the Author

A Pulitzer Prize nominee in the field of journalism, Marian Rizzo has won numerous awards, including the New York Times Chairman’s Award and first place in the 2014 Amy Foundation Writing Awards. She worked for the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper for 30 years. She also has written articles for Ocala Style Magazine and Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine.

Several of Marian’s novels have won awards at Florida Christian Writers conferences and Word Weavers retreats. In 2018, her manuscript for Muldovah, another suspense novel, was a finalist in the Genesis competition of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Marian earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible education from Luther Rice Seminary. She trained for jungle missions with New Tribes (now ETHNOS 360), and she served for two semesters at a Youth With A Mission training center in Southern Spain.

Marian lives in Ocala, Florida, with her daughter, Vicki, who has Down Syndrome. Her other daughter, Joanna, has blessed her with three wonderful grandchildren.

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