Several years ago I read about peak oil and was immediately fascinated as much by the real-world dystopian possibilities as by the literary potential of the concept. I spent two years researching issues of resource scarcity, water scarcity, climate change and the historical and modern-day impact of similar disasters on human societies. I also researched farming and animal husbandry, experimenting hands-on where I could and asking lots of questions every time I went to my family’s rural New Mexico property.
The result was Tin Soldier, a novel about Amalia Channing and Carina Cunningham, two sisters living on a high desert rancho in the wake of economic collapse following petroleum depletion and the resulting resource wars. Their lives are turned upside down when they find an injured National Guard deserter on their property, a young charmer who loves and lies to them both, ultimately betraying them to the government as illegal hoarders in the hope of saving his own skin when the Guard catches up with him.
The characters who survived the denouement of Tin Soldier demanded a sequel. Bella Diana was supposed to be a story of young love triumphing over the adversities of secession and civil war, but my young heroine, Diana, had other ideas. She killed the man she was told to kill, married the man she was expected to marry, and acquired local fame for her prowess as a mercenary. But all she really wanted was the man she couldn’t have and a peaceful life on a farm somewhere, so she finally deserted her husband, friends and family, leaving me in a dilemma.
I had resigned myself to Diana’s abandonment of her husband, Will, but Diana’s fate was the key to his, and Diana wasn’t talking about what happened after she rode away one cold December morning. So I gave her a blog to write about her journey, and she took me on a wild five-month adventure through post-collapse America that I ended up editing and making available via POD as My New-Found Land.
With Diana happy at last on a Kentucky horse farm, I set out to give Will his happy ending, but Will has so far proven even more recalcitrant than Diana. So to fill the narrative gap between Tin Soldier and Bella Diana, I began writing flash fiction stories about the years Will and Diana spent together as friends, fellow soldiers, and almost-siblings, teenage wards of Amalia from Tin Soldier. I posted the stories on one of my blogs and eventually put them together in The Will and Diana Adventures, available at my Lulu store.