Why Tyrell Johnson wrote a post-apocalyptic story set in the Yukon wilderness

The author of The Wolves of Winter talks about his literary debut and exploring humanity through his work.
Tyrell Johnson is the author of the novel The Wolves of Winter. (Tyrell Johnson/Simon & Schuster)
Listen8:56

In a northern area of the Yukon, a cluster of people struggle to survive a frozen landscape in a post-apocalyptic time. North America is ravaged by nuclear war and a flu pandemic. Trust is rare, and kindness is even more so. This is the world we enter in Tyrell Johnson's debut novel, The Wolves of Winter. At the centre of this frozen world is a heroic young woman, Lynn McBride, who has to learn to hunt and trap to make it in this relentlessly unforgiving place. This segment originally aired on March 5, 2018.

Setting the scene

"I knew I wanted a place that was naturally snowy and I knew I wanted a place that had a vast amount of wilderness. I wanted a place where my characters could experienced the fall of society, and be utterly displaced. I wanted to be able to plop them in the middle of nowhere and know that for miles around they weren't going to see any civilization. I guess it was kind of cruel to my characters to some extent, but I liked the challenge of it."

On post-apocalyptic fiction

"I like the questions apocalyptic fiction asks about humanity. What we are capable of becoming when these catastrophic events take place? Do we just completely stay the same person or do we create something feistier and harsher? How do we go about maintaining who we are, but having the capability to survive in this crazy environment?

"I thought apocalyptic fiction was a nice blend of fantasy and my literary style, where I could have freedom to create more of my world, after having destroyed it in the first place and build off of what's left."

Tyrell Johnson's comments have been edited and condensed.