Can we go wilder?

Reserve & Green is a story about wildness. Do we control wildness, or belong to it? Is it “out there," or in us? As a species and as individuals, can we evolve into our wildness, rather than away from it? Or are we destined (doomed?) to only grow less wild? What are the costs of exterminating wildness — in our places, in other creatures, in ourselves? And what are the complications of letting wildness live in and around us? Can we imagine a future human society that is wilder than our own? How might such a society come about? What would it be like?

I envision Reserve & Green in three parts, centered on three generations of women — Vicky, Willa and Magda — before, during and after a set of catastrophes that lead into a new era of mass extinction and global change. Part one, Vicky’s story, shows the transition from normal life into chaos and fear. Part two takes place inside a Walmart which has been turned into a survival shelter, and focuses on Vicky’s daughter Willa, age 14. Part three opens 45 years later, and centers on Magda, Willa’s 20-something daughter, living in a greatly changed, wilder world. Not necessarily a perfect or happier world. Just wilder.

Reserve & Green could be described as either apocalyptic or utopian. I want to make it large and nuanced enough to be both, without fitting too comfortably into either category. Its sci-fi influences are obvious, but I’m intrigued to write a futuristic story that shows us moving deeper into relationship with the Earth rather away from it. Technological advancement is also something I’d like to twist and turn in new directions — I’m not interested in whiz-bang technological magic, or a return to cave men times. I don’t want to go “Beam me up, Scotty" or “Me Tarzan, you Jane." I want to explore the exciting and more challenging territory between those two extremes. What if we cannot — and don’t want to — choose between technology and wildness? Do the two have to be at odds? Could our technological prowess could fit into a wilder future? How?

It’s imperative to me that all of these ideas get dramatized through characters who are multi-faceted, compelling and real. The Reserve & Green world is populated with a host of characters, major and minor, all with their own relationships, conflicts, and stories to tell. I don’t want there to be any easy answers, no simple heroes and villains, and no overall “moral of the story." The themes I’m tackling are way too fascinating to me and important to be reduced that way. But even as I embrace complexity and nuance, I’m also determined that the story be highly relatable. I want all sorts of people to be able to see themselves in the world(s) of Reserve & Green, from Walmart workers to wilderness advocates to gun-toting Joe Six packs. It should be smart enough for the egg-heads, raw and real enough for anybody. No high-faluting talk about the ‘wildness within’ will mean anything if people don’t feel something when they meet these characters.

Wildness. What is it? In our places, in other creatures, in ourselves? Can we tolerate, or even cultivate, the development of our instincts, our shadow sides, our animal selves? What happens if we don’t? What happens if we do?