Last year I reviewed Carrie Patel’s debut novel The Buried Life, which I really enjoyed. I also interviewed her in the run up to the book’s publication. And then life threw a spanner in the works. Angry Robot Books was put up for sale and most of the remaining 2014 titles that were still to be published were pushed back until 2015. This March sees the Angry Robot Reboot and Carrie’s debut is finally available to everyone. From March 3 everyone will be able to purchase this wonderful book. To celebrate this fact, I’ve asked Carrie back for another Author Query to talk about the past year and more. Enjoy and please check out The Buried Life next week!
Hi Carrie, welcome back! How have you been in the past year?
Thank you, it’s great to be back! The past year has been busy and full of surprises—about this time last year, I was starting to talk with Angry Robot about release plans for The Buried Life, working on the sequel, and writing for Pillars of Eternity, a CRPG that will also be out in March. It’s been a busy year, but it’s exciting to see so many projects coming together now!
Your book was unexpectedly held back from publication last summer, after having already received some wonderful reviews. What was it like having to wait on the book to be officially published?
It came as a bit of a shock at first. As an unpublished author, you hear all these stories about publishers disappearing overnight and books getting cancelled out of the blue, but I was just a couple weeks away from D-Day when the news hit. I’d thought I was in the clear. By the time the news about the delay hit, I’d been working on promotion for a couple of months, and I was worried about losing release date momentum and not sure what to tell people. But once it became clear that Angry Robot was getting back on track, I was mostly just relieved that The Buried Life was still coming out!
Speaking of those early reviews, was there a specific reaction or comment that surprised you?
The reaction I remember most happened last July during CONvergence. I was with Jennie Goloboy, my agent, and Tex Thompson, whose debut, One Night in Sixes, had just come out, and we were visiting bookstores around Minneapolis. We walked into Uncle Hugo’s, which specializes in science fiction and fantasy, and Jennie introduced us to the staff. When she said my name, one of the guys looked over and said, “Oh, your book just got a starred review in Publishers Weekly.”
This was the first we’d heard about it—the review had just come out a few days ago—but it was a fantastic surprise!
In Liesl and Jane you have two very independent, but quite different viewpoint characters. Their differences definitely outnumber their similarities. How did these two perspectives complement each other during the writing of the book? Did you set out to have two female points of view?
Originally, I thought of The Buried Life as Jane’s book, but as I thought more about the characters and the ways they should interact, I saw a big niche for an inspector in a trench coat. By now, I think Jane and Liesl share the plot pretty well. Their differences emerged organically, and as that happened, it became a lot of fun to highlight those distinctions by showing how they solve problems and how they relate to some of the same characters. By the end, circumstances have changed drastically for both of them, but it’s their perspectives and their differing ways of internalizing their situations that matter as much as anything.
One of my favourite characters in the book was Roman. Was he an easy character to write?
He was definitely the easiest of the lot. It might have been because he’s also my favorite, and it certainly helped that he’s got a pretty clear-cut personality—it’s never hard to imagine what he’ll do in a particular situation. It also helps that most of his characterization comes from his interactions with Jane and Liesl, and since both of them have strong reactions to him, it really helps set him up with a strong presence and a lot of interesting scenes.
History, true history, is a very controlled substance in Recoletta. In fact, knowledge is tightly controlled by the government. Will we learn more about how Recoletta came to be and what the government doesn’t want its citizens to learn – and why – in future books?
Yes—all will become clear in book three!
Any hints on when Cities and Thrones, the sequel to The Buried Life, might appear on the schedule?
Last I heard, Angry Robot was looking for a release in July of this year, and I haven’t heard otherwise yet, so…
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m splitting my time between plotting the three-quel to The Buried Life and drafting a near-future novel about Mars colonization and bare branches youths from India.
And of course, any books you’d like to recommend? One can never have too much to read!
So many! Two recent favorites are Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, which is a brilliant “Wild West” take on steampunk-edged fantasy, and Under the Skin (ed: by Michael Faber), a character-focused science fiction novel set in rural Scotland. It’s not a mystery, but like a lot of my favorite books, it unfolds itself in the manner of one.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young for two years.
She now works as a narrative designer at Obsidian Entertainment in Irvine, California, where the only season is Always Perfect.