Please welcome Carrie Pattel, a young author whose first book will be out on July 29 in North America and on August the 7th in print in UK.
Carrie writes game by day and book by night. She's the kind of person who stand for what she thinks on her funny blog and who can prove that Maverick is a dick and that Iceman is the good guy! (So now you know)
Cheers for that great new author!
Will you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Sure! I’m originally from Katy, Texas, and I grew up in a family of readers. My dad always has something with a library barcode on his nightstand, and my mom’s a mystery reader and recent audiobook addict. I caught the bug early (as did my sisters), so it wasn’t really a surprise when I started writing.
What about "The Buried Life" how did you came upon that idea?
I started with the underground city setting and an atmosphere of mystery, conspiracy, and disarming gentility. From there, I thought about the kinds of characters that would test the boundaries of that world and what kinds of trouble they would get into together. In retrospect, it feels like building the novel backwards, but it gave me a clear idea from the start of the kind of book I wanted to write and the kind of experience I wanted the reader to have.
Did you use your travels or stays in your book to build your setting and why?
Indirectly, yes. The name and the original inspiration for Recoletta, the fictional underground city of The Buried Life, is the Recoleta Cemetary of Buenos Aires, Argentina. I visited it on a brief study abroad trip and got a really compelling sense of place from it. It’s solemn and majestic, and it’s full of stories—so many important people from Argentina’s history are buried there. The inspiration I took was pretty impressionistic, but it was the genesis for the book.
How do you manage to combine work and writing (knowing that your job is also writing)?
It’s a pretty fantastic marriage, actually. I work as a narrative designer for Obsidian Entertainment, a game development studio, and it’s every bit as fun as it sounds. I write characters, dialogue, and other story elements for our upcoming RPG, Pillars of Eternity.
It meshes well with my novel-writing because it keeps me working on characters, plot, and prose throughout the day, but in new stories and settings. There’s a collaborative aspect to writing for games, which is a nice change of pace from the solitary nature of novel-writing. The main challenge in balancing the two is carving out time for novel-writing, especially when things pick up at the office, which is why I try to schedule regular writing time every morning.
Which subjects are more difficult to write about?
Anything technical or procedural can be a challenge, because you want to get the details right without sacrificing your freedom with the characters and plot. This was one challenge when I realized I was writing something that was, in part, a detective novel. I needed Malone to be believable as both a professional detective and as a professional detective that goes rogue.
Which events will you attend in the next months?
I’ve just gotten back from Apollocon in Houston, and I’m headed to CONvergence for the Fourth of July weekend. Detcon (or NASFIC, since Worldcon is in London this year) will be the last convention on my schedule. I’m excited about all three of these, and I’m actually relatively new to the convention circuit—Apollocon and Worldcon in San Antonio last year were my first two conventions.
What are you reading now?
I’m double-fisting N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for some fantasy and George Wright Padgett’s Spindown for some hard science fiction.
What do you look for in a good book? Is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
Even though I’ve got a special relationship with speculative fiction, I like a pretty wide range of books, so it’s hard to talk about really specific things that I look for—I enjoy pensive character studies, fast-paced pots, fantastical world-building. So it’s probably easier to talk about what I don’t like!
The process of revising and editing my own work has made me more attentive to prose overall and more impatient when it’s weak. Writing doesn’t have to be astounding to tell a good story, but when it’s bad, it’s distracting. It makes me doubt the writer, which makes it almost impossible for me to enjoy the story, no matter how interesting it might otherwise be.
Similarly, I get bored with meandering characters. Unless they’re meandering somewhere really, really interesting, I lose interest if it doesn’t feel like there’s some sense of direction or motivation.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Dune. There are so many books I’ve enjoyed, but the world of Arrakis was so rich, and the conflicts so layered, that it would be rewarding to experience it fresh.
What's next for you?
I’m working on Cities and Thrones, the sequel to The Buried Life. I’m having a lot of fun extending the conflict from The Buried Life and observing how the characters cope with their new situations.
Why so serious questions
What would be your desert island read?
War and Peace. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read it yet, and as long as it is, it would keep me busy for a long time.
Your favorite villain?
The best villains are the ones you root for (on some level) despite their roles and vices. Hannibal Lecter is a great villain because he’s so charming and intriguing that it’s easy to forget how depraved he is. You look for explanations for his brutality because it’s tempting to believe that there’s something benign (or at least predictable) in him.
Whose hero do you wish you had created?
Like everyone else, I read a fair share of Dickens in school, and while I didn’t have a particularly strong appreciation for most of it, I loved Sydney Carton. Most of the girls in my ninth-grade English class (myself included!) bawled through the end of A Tale of Two Cities. He was noble and tragic in the end, and yet he didn’t seem to care whether people thought of him that way. While I suspect I’d respond differently to his self-pity and his obsession with Lucie if I read it today, I’d love to write a character that affects others the way he affected me at the time.
Which one of you characters is more like you?
I never actually write myself into my fiction, but I suppose it’s impossible not to recognize bits of myself in some of my characters, especially when I’m telling the story from over their shoulders. With that in mind, I feel like I can see more of myself in Jane Lin, one of the perspective characters. She’s inquisitive and determined, and she’s an incurable eavesdropper, which anyone in my family could tell you is one of my worst habits!