Solana Beach author’s Covid-19 short story selected for theatrical performance


Solana Beach author Ona Russell’s short story “In the Tent” was recently honored as one of the Top 10 narratives submitted to the San Diego Decameron Project, a collection of 101 works of creative writing about the Covid-19 pandemic. Her nonfiction piece about how the pandemic changed her approach to writing was performed by a professional actor in a theatrical performance staged by the project. Russell, who is the author of four novels, says, “I was honored to have my story included in the Project and thrilled to be among the top 10. It is particularly satisfying to know that my work will be part of the official record of this unique historical period.

Ona Russell
Ona Russell

In addition to being an award-winning author, Russell holds a Ph.D. in literature from UC San Diego, where she also developed and teaches the popular course “Literature and the Law” through the university’s extension program. She has also developed and taught university classes, such as “Poetry and the Workplace” and “Truth of Historical Fiction,” and has taught writing at San Diego State and UC San Diego. Russell is the author of numerous published essays, academic, and legal articles. Her most recent book, “Son of Nothingness: A Novel of Appearances,” was released in September 2020. She is also a credentialed mediator and book club facilitator.

For the San Diego Decameron Project, local authors were invited to submit previously unpublished fiction or nonfiction narratives based loosely around the theme of the current pandemic. Twenty-five judges read submissions and chose the top 100 stories, which are posted on one of the partners websites. The stories will be digitally archived with the San Diego Public Library and La Jolla Historical Society.

The San Diego Decameron Project was organized by the San Diego Public Library, San Diego Writers, Ink, Write Out Loud, and the La Jolla Historical Society. It was inspired by “The Decameron,” a book written shortly after the Black Death overtook Florence in 1348, and a collection of novellas structured as a frame story by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book contains 100 stories told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria shared, “The Decameron Project is an important archive to capture our city’s stories during the pandemic. As a history major myself, I deeply appreciate that these pieces feature events both big and small as a permanent record of San Diegans’ tragic and uplifting moments during this unprecedented time.”