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Friday, July 11, 2014

GUEST POST: Civilization Beneath The Ashes by Carrie Patel


For me, the most interesting parts of stories and worlds are the portions most often left unseen. This is what The Buried Life is about. It’s the foundation of the city of Recoletta and the characters who inhabit it.

Recoletta is a city built on secrets—it exists beneath the ruin of a world that was destroyed generations ago, and its history has been happily forgotten by most of the people who live there. Casual corruption, back-room deals, and false fronts are the order of the day. Just as the city underground is covered by a layer of ornamental buildings, so the residents hide their scheming with tact and decorum.

The characters on the bottom rungs of the social hierarchy often make the keenest observers of these tensions. Stories about grand maneuverings and political machinations often focus on characters in positions of status and authority because they’re the ones with agency. I wanted to tell a story about what happens in the margins. Some characters must stoop to trickery and deceit because their own meager power turns out to be hollow. Others must tread carefully because they never had any power to begin with.


The Buried Life is a story about people trying to understand and survive a period of monumental change, but it’s also about the shifts within the city.

Recoletta exists at an indeterminate point in the future, centuries after a world-shaking catastrophe. It’s post-post-apocalyptic—it’s what springs up after society has long since crumbled and rebuilt again. Starting with those fractured building blocks, it was fun to try to piece them together, extrapolate forward several hundred years, and imagine how they might settle over time.

For example, they might leave large gaps between the social strata. If survival in the early days depended on rigid adherence to specific roles and duties, that might persist as class structure. The individuals at the top would have had the most useful skills and would have come from a broad mix of white-collar and blue-collar professions, including medicine, engineering, mining, metalworking, and plumbing. In many cases, they would have performed high-level and supervisory roles while those with less-useful skills got their hands dirty digging fresh tunnels. As a result, Recolettans at the top of the food chain are known as “whitenails.”


Similarly, habits and fashions would adapt to suit the circumstances. By the time of the events of The Buried Life, living underground is a matter of custom rather than one of necessity, but it has nevertheless reshaped notions of propriety and good taste. The most disreputable members of society are the surface-dwellers whose agriculture feeds the city. Most Recolettans have never traveled outside their city, and some of the most status-conscious avoid the surface roads altogether.

All of the what-ifs make for a fun intellectual exercise, but a setting is nothing without a story and characters that shape and are shaped by the environment. So it’s no surprise that the story of The Buried Life is about uncovering Recoletta’s secrets and upsetting its delicate and centuries-old balance. The central characters are the ones positioned close enough to the heart of the conflict to see the cracks form and watch the structure crumble. As for what they do after the dust settles, that’s the story of Cities and Thrones


Official Author Website
Pre-order The Buried Life HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she also studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina. She acquired her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and previously worked at Ernst & Young for two years. She currently works as a narrative designer and resides in Irvine, California.

NOTE: Netherworld Capital City art by Jesse Van Dijk. Author picture and book covers courtesy of the author.

1 comments:

Paul Weimer said...

Yep, definitely looking forward to this, Carrie.

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