Q: Does modern America have a "Wild West?"

In my opinion, Americans still think of their country in terms of "civilization" and "wilderness." The geographical boundaries aren’t quite as clear as they used to be. The closing of the American frontier ended the sense of boundless expansion into the wilderness. But the dividing line remains. I think that the sense of "frontier" has really changed over the last century, from a physical boundary—i.e., "The West starts here—" to more of an abstraction. In my novel, that fault line between civilization and wilderness exists somewhere between the modern suburbs and the modern inner city.

Q: In what sense?

In the sense that the general perception that Americans have about their inner cities—a perception just as skewed as the 19th century settlers’ view of the West—is of a lawless wilderness, a place exclusively of violence, where the rules of normal, civilized life simply don’t apply. And, conversely, I think that Americans tend to imagine that their suburbs are the safe, healthy places that they were designed and advertised to be, which is again, in my opinion, a skewed perception. I think that that desire for the suburbs to be a safe haven from the "lawless inner cities" is one of the reasons that the recent school violence, particularly the well publicized school shootings, have come as such a shock.