The genesis of Novel Number One, The Butterfly & The Bull, involved a sandy shore on the Chesapeake Bay, a beach hut, and a man running down a ravine. The story grew from that image, extending backwards in time to a beginning and forwards to an end. Early on in the process, it developed a dystopian tinge. I needed a backdrop to explain why the man was on the run. The dissolution of democratic, financial and social structures worked well.
In Novel Number Two, I used the same cast of characters, and employed stage 2 dystopia (on a ten point scale). It seemed like a logical progression.
When I began Novel Number Three, I started with a clean slate (or so I thought). Dystopia begone, I thought. The plot gestated in my head for months. A young man sets out on a perilous journey, driven by his sense of curiosity, and his genetic tendencies. A young woman does the same.
In the beginning, the story was set in the Scottish West Coast, in the present day. Try as I might, I could not make it work. The world as it exists provided too many distractions, too many potential rescue and support structures, too little opportunity for challenge. Eventually, I gave in and set the story in a dark future, after the collapse of world societies, after the chaos, warfare, disease and destruction have reduced the human population to groups of people who have managed to survive. I imagined groups of people beginning to reconnect with others and come to terms with a world which contains little or nothing of what modern society has come to take for granted.
Compared with novels and short stories I have read in this genre, my story has one major difference. The darkness has passed, and the future is not as bleak as it might once have been. In addition, the human population left on the planet behaves in much the same way as people always have, the good and the not so good.
On he other hand, the contrasts with our present-day world are stark. There are no billionaires or millionaires, no corporations, no governments, no utilities, no telecommunications. The list of things that are not there is almost endless. One outcome of all this absence is a natural world which is beginning to emerge from one of the worst eras in its long history. With the real possibility of a return to natural abundance, the survival of the human race rests on the ability of individuals, groups and communities to carve out a new way of living, to work together for a common good, and to relearn the art of survival.
In that context, the malady becomes the cure.