My first attempt at writing a novel occurred when I was around 20 years old. It was called ‘The Gospel According to Nobody’ and was about a young girl raised in isolation by her crazy grandfather, and what happened when she was accidentally ‘discovered’ by a well-meaning stranger. The novel ended up a fragment, unfinished and rather awful at that. Now, more than 35 years later I’ve been thinking about doing it over. The same basic plot still appeals to me, and yet everything else has changed. I’ve changed a lot, the world has changed a lot, even the norms and expectations for young girls has changed a lot. Isolation is not even isolation any more. Given a half decent solar array, a working well and cellphone service, they could be off the grid and yet up to date with everything, though they’re way up in the mountains somewhere. Throw in a horse (and maybe some chickens, goats and vegetable garden) and a humble grocery store within a couple hours riding distance, and you’ve got everything you need more or less (assuming cell service is good enough and you have a smart phone for internet). The old man can get his social security through direct deposit, have online banking and a debit card, and you don’t even need cash or ever go to a town or a city for anything. The only thing to fear, in this case, is other people.
I do live in a somewhat remote area (though not far from the bustling Bay Area) where there are people attempting this kind of lifestyle, and I know some young children being home-schooled and living more or less alone with their families and scattered neighbors, so it’s not that far-fetched to me. I even know some girls (who run their own chicken businesses around here) to model her on. One thing I will not do is put the child in danger or harm her in any way. I really hate that in fiction and it seems almost mandatory nowadays (compared to Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie, where such treatments were really unthinkable). You can have drama without terror, excitement without explosions, situations without torture, believe it or not.
Anyway, the general shape of the thing is forming in the old brain. Whether or not anything comes of it, who can tell?