Laura Spinney is a writer and science journalist, whose writing on science has appeared in distinguished publications such as Nature, The Guardian, The Economist and National Geographic. Only three years before the current COVID-19 pandemic, she published her non-fiction account of the 1918 influenza pandemic, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World (2017). It became a worldwide bestseller, and shows that the Spanish flu was the biggest disaster of the 20th century, exceeding the death tolls of both World War 1 (17 million) and World War 2 (60 million). Her extensive research for this book made her one of the leading world experts on the impact and consequences of pandemics. Spinney also published two novels, The Doctor (2001) and The Quick (2007), and a collection of oral history, Rue Centrale (2013).