The Rewilding: Donna M Cameron on why hopeful literature is needed

Donna M Cameron shares with us her inspiration for writing new novel The Rewilding.

The Rewilding Synopsis

An exhilarating and unforgettable love song for our world.

Heartbroken and in fear for his life, corporate whistle blower, Jagger Eckerman, escapes to hide out in a remote cave, but kick-arse radical, Nia Moretti, is furious a ‘capitalist suit’ has taken over her cave. It is hatred at first sight.

Yet Nia is hiding for reasons of her own, ones that drag Jagger closer to death as they are forced on the run together and he is unwittingly pulled deeper into Nia’s reckless mission to help save the planet. But who can save Jagger from the relentless pursuit of the man who wants him dead?

Both an electrifying cat-and-mouse-chase and an odd couple love story, The Rewilding captures the essence of what it means to be alive today in this cusp of change pulsing with possibilities. It is a passionate intimation of hope.

Publication: Transit Lounge Publishing, March 2024

Genre: Literature, Thriller, Drama & Romance, Mystery, Action

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The Rewilding: Donna Cameron on the need for hope in literature

The Rewilding came out of a place of deep despair around anthropogenic climate change. I would catch myself ‘doom scrolling,’ anything – articles on natural disasters, extinction statistics, horrific youth suicide rates.

I reached a point where I was waking in the middle of the night. Sometimes it would be out of pure unadulterated fear, other nights I’d be full of rage at the lack of action from world governments, but most nights it would be from grief for what has been lost and for what we are losing each day. Most worrying of all was the young people in my life, my children included – their lack of hope. I teach acting classes, and I also work as an English/Drama teacher one day a week, so I am exposed to a lot of children, teenagers, and twenty-somethings. I was horrified to notice many of them are suffering from ‘doomerism.’ A belief that they’re all going to die young, because there is nothing they can do now to make a difference. It’s too late. 

I realised how dangerous this dominate narrative of hopelessness was, so I stopped the doom scrolling and immersed myself in scientific articles, books (non-fiction and fiction), podcasts, and interviews, soaking up everything hopeful I could find around anthropogenic climate change. I found so much to be hopeful for and realised humans aren’t just the most destructive species on the face of the planet, we’re also the most creative, intelligent and compassionate. 

Donna Cameron on her inspiration for writing The Rewilding

I came across the work of scholar and educator, Doctor Elin Kelsey, who argues that our continual focus on climate doom is ‘fuelling an epidemic of eco-anxiety, leaving many of us feeling hopeless and powerless—and hampering our ability to address the very real challenges we face.’ As a storyteller, did I have a responsibility to try and change this dominate narrative? 

In the fiction realm I read many excellent books, mostly set in a near, yet dire future that end with, what American writer, Jenny Offill, termed the ‘obligatory note of hope.’ As a mother of two, I wanted more than an obligatory note. I needed full blooded, real tangible hope in the face of this climate emergency. Was there such a thing? Was it possible to write a realist novel, set now on this cusp of change, that moves beyond a gleam of hope into a solid reality? 

One morning, after another sleepless night, I was standing on a cliff face in the national park near where I live, looking out over the ocean when The Rewilding swept through me, the whole shebang – the characters, the premise, the storyline. I was working on another book at the time (Bloomfield – which has now become my third novel), so I wasn’t keen to abandon it for the ‘bright, shiny new idea.’ 

However, The Rewilding wouldn’t leave me alone, and instinctively I knew the only way I could abate my growing sense of despair, rage and anxiety was to write the book. I needed to write my way towards hope. 

During the creative process I discovered two things – it is possible to write a contemporary novel through an anthropogenic climate change lens with hope at the beating heart of it, but only because my fictional characters evolved to embrace a ‘hopepunk’ mentality – a term coined by Alexandra Rowland in 2017, which means to maintain hope, against all odds.

And the other thing? Hope arrives through action.

The Rewilding reviews

‘A breathless chase thriller with a warm ecological heart.’ — Inga Simpson, author of The Last Woman in the World

‘Fiction at its rebellious, fast-paced best with hope as its touchstone, making The Rewilding an urgent novel for our times.’ — Sally Piper, author of Bone Memories 

‘A genre-bending page-turner from an author of the highest calibre: Cameron’s writing is rich, evocative and comes straight from the heart.’ — Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place

About the Author, Donna M Cameron

Donna M Cameron is a playwright and AWGIE nominated radio dramatist who now writes novels. Her debut, Beneath the Mother Tree (2018, MidnightSun) was listed as a top Australian fiction read in The Advertiser’s yearly round up and was selected for the 2019 QWC/Screen QLD’s Adaptable program. The manuscript of The Rewilding, won her a KSP Fellowship, was runner up in a Writing NSW award and gained her a 2021 Varuna Fellowship. Donna was recently accorded a Regional Arts Development Fund grant to work on her third novel, Bloomfield.