Wild Fierce Life

Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast

Joanna Streetly

A   B C   B E S T S E L L E R

Wild Fierce Life is a heart-stopping collection of true stories from the Pacific Coast that build a vivid portrait of life on the continental edge and one woman’s evolving place within it.

Author Joanna Streetly arrived on the west coast of Vancouver Island when she was nineteen, and soon adapted to the challenges of working on boats of all sorts, guiding multi-day wilderness kayak trips along the BC coast, and living in remote situations often without electricity or running water.

From a near-death experience while swimming at night to an enigmatic encounter with a cougar, these stories capture the joys and dangers of living in a wild environment. Streetly’s vivid storytelling evokes a sincere respect for nature, both its fragility and its power.

Full of unflinching self-examination and a fidelity to the landscape of Vancouver Island’s outer coast, these stories reveal the interplay between inner and outer landscapes—the evolution of a woman uncovering the pleasures and dangers of the wild life.


“With its gorgeous prose and adept storytelling, Wild Fierce Life captures life on the outer coast in a way that few recent titles have managed — and celebrates how this life can test the limits of who we are and how we understand the world around us. A must-read for all the adventurers among us, armchair and otherwise.”
—Tara Henley, The Vancouver Sun

“Joanna’s Streetly’s memoir is a riveting, intimate and poetic exploration of the wild and its ability to entrance and entangle us, elevate and humble us, and ultimately, to teach us. Streetly’s writing is both lyrical and taut with anticipation as she navigates both physical dangers—fog, drowning, tsunamis, cougars, wolves—and the psychic landscapes of death, love, loneliness, fear, loss and courage. A breathtaking book that reconnects us to the power of nature and our potential to overcome.”
—Carol Shaben, author of Into the Abyss, co-author of The Marriott Cell

“Joanna is a one-of-a kind writer and human whose stories in this collection take us deep into her amazing and inspiring life in the wilderness. Her lyrical style is at once deeply moving and transformative because she is able to peel back the layers of her experience with such candor, insight, self-reflection and honesty. It’s a powerful combination, one rife with poetry, that leaves her readers in awe and makes her one of my favourite Canadian writers.”
—Cori Howard, editor of Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth about Motherhood

“This gorgeously-written collection of essays examines pivotal moments and fearsome life or death choices, in one remarkable life. Make that nine lives, at least, given the perilous escapes Joanna Streetly has made en route to wisdom earned during the first half of her adventurous life. Wild Fierce Life could well be subtitled Swimming With Bears or Paddling Among Icebergs or Close Encounters With Wolves. A perfect, resonant haiku sets the subtext for each essay which then transports us onto the islands and into the waters of the wild north Pacific along with her. Brilliant nature writing, the best kind of travel writing, and so much more… I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
—Caroline Woodward, author of Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper

Wild Fierce Life is a portal into something sadly now rare: a human life lived in intimate relationship with the ocean and the wilderness. Joanna Streetly’s prose, by turns fluent and taut, is always captivating. Reading these essays, I too lived on the edge of the world. I tasted salt and felt the rain on my skin, and shared in the making of a life or death choice. When I reached the last page, I wanted to begin again.”
—Kathy Page, author of Paradise & Elsewhere and Alphabet

“… She has given us good stories of breathtaking adventures, both beautifully crafted and enchanting.”
Foreword Reviews

“…To be able to write in such a soul-grasping, meditative way without relying on external factors is scarce in literature today, and Streetly sets the bar to a one-of-a-kind high…”
—Adam Marsh, Nexus Newspaper

“… Those looking for an alternative to chauvinistic survivalist narratives of humans enduring in a hostile natural world will find respite in Streetly’s words. Those who have lived in a “wild” place will find some of Streetly’s experiences familiar, while those who have not will be impressed by her unique ability to render wilderness beloved without overly romanticizing it.”
—Lauren Harding, The Ormsby Review