A DEBUT novelist has broken into the Amazon charts after predicting the events of 2020.

Dom Holdsworth’s comedy sci-fi How to Buy a Planet is 20 years in the making for the Beckley resident.

Set in 2024, it tells the story of the world recovering from a global pandemic while overwhelmed by debt, forcing the world’s leaders to sell the planet.

The mirrors between the real world and the novel are eery to say the least: a deadly virus pandemic; social distancing; a Prime Minister ‘with famously floppy hair’ addressing the nation live from 10 Downing Street.

There’s even an ‘overweight and slightly gormless’ US President in The White House.

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Mr Holdsworth, a former City fund manager, finished writing the book, after eight drafts, in March last year, with the novel finally published this August.

The 46-year-old said: “It’s been a 20 year journey up until this point, I had the idea in the wake of the tech crash, and worked out the plot following the credit crunch in 2008.

“I was a bit angry from the credit crunch but instead of writing something from anger, I decided to write something funny.”

It wasn’t until late 2015 that Mr Holdsworth properly put pen to paper though.

Oxford Mail:

“I started writing it in earnest five years ago, and finished the eighth and final draft in March last year,” he said.

“Everything was ready to go when the word ‘coronavirus’ first started appearing in the news early this year.

“Since the book was published it’s been picked up by word of mouth, as people started to comment on how I’d successfully mixed science fiction with science fact.

“I was amazed that so many of my ideas which I’ve been working on since the turn of the century all seemed to come true just as the book finally came out.

Oxford Mail:

“In the final third of the novel, the plot hinges on the threat of a second, much deadlier virus pandemic, this was always a key turning point in the plot, from when I dreamt it up years and years ago.

“All the way through, germs and hygiene are spliced into the narrative: hazmat suits, decontamination units, social distancing and so forth.

“At the time I was writing this, these all seemed quite rarified concerns and concepts.”

Mr Holdsworth, who studied French and German at the University of Oxford, started his career in finance before switching to educational publishing, helping to create textbooks and online resources.

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He said it was still odd seeing his name featuring in Amazon’s charts.

“I’m thrilled, it’s a strange thing going from not being a writer to having something that’s being read by people,” he said.

“Readers particularly seem to enjoy the escapism it offers. They like the way the book tackles contemporary issues at the same time as offering an escape from them.”