Wendover author's tale of lockdown pub life inspired by The King and Queen makes Observer newspaper top ten list

A book which is based on the author's own experiences of life in a locked down Wendover pub has been named on a top ten list by The Observer newspaper.
Will Burns in Wendover's King and Queen pubWill Burns in Wendover's King and Queen pub
Will Burns in Wendover's King and Queen pub

The Paper Lantern by Will Burns is published by Orion, and this week it was listed as part of the Sunday newspaper's top ten debut authors to watch.

Will, 40 lives in Pound Street Wendover with wife Nina, and the pair are regulars at The King and Queen in the village which is run by Will's mum and dad Pete Donne and Shelley Burns.

Set during the first coronavirus lockdown, Will's fictional work shines a light on what happens when all work is cancelled, and a person is allowed to assess their surroundings in a way that has never been afforded to mankind before.

He said: "The unnamed main character of the book begins to think about the nature of the whole area, they have time to walk and think about everything that is happening.

"The narrator starts to explore these ideas, and through the pages of the book starts to think about their life.

"The book is inspired by Wendover, and I'm trying to play with the netherland between fiction and fact, lots of elements are real and there are elements of memoir, but I needed to explore the imaginative potential of fiction too."

Will's book was picked up be Orion after one of his favourite London bars, The Heavenly Social which is a haunt of writers and publishers, launched an online magazine during the pandemic.

The Social Gathering site asked Will to become a regular contributor, and by the time the book was commissioned he already had 20,000 words committed to paper.

Will started writing properly in 2014, and is already a published poet, a book of his verses was published by Faber and Faber.

But the landlord's son, who is working on his PhD in Creative Writing with the Royal Holloway University, says that achieving the recognition of The Observer list for his first novel is a very special moment.

He added: "It was incredibly exciting and quite a surprise.

"I am one of the more obscure poets around and I always thought that my writing would be quietly unregarded by the wider world.

"So to be part of this list is very exciting. It shouldn't be the be all and end all, but when these little bits of recognition come along they do mean a lot."