San Diegans recount coronavirus pandemic experience in new book

Posted at 11:15 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 20:56:31-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As the world approaches one year into a pandemic that has reshaped many lives, many people will never forget what followed those first months when it all started.

As life grinded to a halt and forced everyone to stay inside, Mary Walshok’s situation was unique. The San Diegan was living next door to her son and grandchildren, and suddenly found her Swedish culture colliding with her son's Korean in-laws.

"As luck would have it, we were all together, the Korean family, the Swedish family, at the moment we were all told to stay home. We grew as a family because we were forced, if you will -- seven of us -- to share the garden, to share meals. We watched Korean movies, Swedish movies," Walshok recalled.

The pandemic forged a multi-generational and multi-cultural bond Walshok said might not have happened otherwise. Her experience is now just one of dozens that San Diegans submitted for a book set to publish this month.

"Some are personal stories about family relationships, dealing with children. Some are about those who were working the frontlines and seeing the public every day. Some are very personal intimate things of how they're experienced it all on their own, alone," said Veronica Murphy, artistic director for Write Out Loud.

Together with the San Diego Public Library, San Diego Writers, Ink, and the La Jolla Historical Society, the “San Diego Decameron Project” was born.

The project is inspired by a fictional novel from the 1300s about a plague in Italy that forced people out of their villages, with stories told by those who survived.

But what's anything from fiction is the hope and connection readers will find in the “San Diego Decameron” about the current global COVID-19 pandemic.

"You begin to bond as a community because you begin to recognize that your experience mirrors or compliments others, and you feel less alone and less isolated. It's a lovely byproduct of this project,” Walshok said.

For more information on the project, visit