Margaret Hickey is frantically trying to get the first 20,000 words done on her second novel.
But the Beechworth-based author and playwright admits a bit of "brain fog" has accompanied the successive lockdowns since 2020.
"I think that's the general consensus (from everyone); fatigue has set in," Hickey says.
"In the first lockdown, people were making their own sourdough and getting into reading and projects.
"This year lockdown has been harder going; my brain has felt a bit sludgy; a bit like I'm wading through quicksand."
Hickey says she was "super focused" last year when she wrote her very well-received debut novel Cutters End.
The "scintillating crime thriller" is set in the South Australian outback town of Cutters End, where a mysterious death on New Year's Eve 1989, leads to a shocking murder investigation 32 years later:
In 1989, a broken and burnt body was found in scrub just off the Stuart Highway.
The coroner ruled it an accidental death, but rumours of murder have persisted.
Now, three decades on, Acting Inspector Mark Ariti is sent to Cutters End to open a re-investigation and pick apart the town's secrets.
Published by Penguin Random House, Hickey says she's received great feedback about the book and some wonderful exposure through the likes of the Australian Women's Weekly and morning breakfast show programs.
But it was the response from rural and regional readers that truly warmed the cockles of Hickey's heart.
"Country people have been astounding; I think regional people are great readers," she says.
"Last year was a really good year for readers: I've had such fabulous support from regional and rural people."
Hickey also says she has a whole new following from South Australia, with many people reaching out to say they'd loved her portrayal of the landscape.
Others sent emails reminiscing about their hitch-hiking days.
"It think (the book) reminded them of days when we all felt more free," she says.
Hickey has now been contracted to write two more books, including a sequel to Cutters End.
This time, though, Hickey has found inspiration for her setting in the bushland closer to home.
"It's how I start every single bit of writing - landscape first and then I people it," she says.
"I suspect most writers start with plot or characters."
Hickey, who holds a PhD in creative writing, is sharing her space at home with her husband and their sons Alex (Year 12), Eddie (Year 10) and Ben (Year 8), who are all grappling with remote learning.
She also teaches Year 12 English and Year 11 drama to students at Cathedral College, Wangaratta.
Hickey admits she is "hopeless" when she's at home working.
"I'm not sure if anyone is doing a particularly stellar job in our house," she laughs.
"We're all looking forward to coming out of it (lockdown)."