Friday, June 26, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Cities & Thrones (Recoletta #2) by Carrie Patel - Guest Post

Happy Saturday! Today we're super excited to be participating in the blog tour for Carrie Patel's newest book, Cities and Thrones, which also happens to be the second book in her Recoletta series. Carrie stopped by to talk about how her travels have inspired and influenced her writing, and we hope you enjoy reading about it as much as we did!

Before we get to Carrie's guest post though, here's a little bit about Cities and Thrones and Carrie! Also, don't forget to check out the interview we did with Carrie last year for the first book in the Recoletta series, The Buried Life.

About the Book

Title: Cities and Thrones (Recoletta #2)
Author: Carrie Patel
Publication Dates: 2 July 2015 (UK)
July 7, 2015 (US/CAN)

Synopsis: In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recolleta, Oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.

Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

Purchase Links:
UK Print & Ebook

North American Print & Ebook

Global DRM-Free Epub Ebook
On-sale 2 July 2015 from the Robot Trading Company

About the Author

Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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.
You can find Carrie online at and@Carrie_Patel on Twitter.

There and Back Again: Travel and Cities and Thrones

 Writers get inspiration from a lot of sources, and travel is often chief among them. New places spark our imaginations and awaken our minds to many of the details we often overlook in everyday life. They enchant and intrigue us, and we can come to see new patterns in their shadows and skylines.

This kind of stimulation is especially important for speculative fiction, which often features cities and cultures made from scratch.

The Buried Life was a book about an insular, isolationist city called Recoletta. The people who live there rarely (if ever) leave it, and they spend much of their time in a complex social dance designed to maintain the city’s strict hierarchy and its stagnant sense of self.

With that in mind, it should not come as a surprise that the city of Recoletta was largely inspired by a cemetery.

The Cementerio de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires is beautiful in a grand, sober kind of way. Walking through its narrow, cobbled lanes and admiring its stately mausoleums got my imagination cranking about lamplit streets and underground cities, but that wasn’t quite enough. The ideas needed more time to marinate.

That’s where the rest of my trip to Argentina came in handy. The downtime of bus rides and plane trips gave me the time that I don’t often set aside from my normal routine. Meanwhile, the Pampas of the countryside and the streets of Buenos Aires provided more enriching and less distracting surroundings while I spun daydreams into stories.

While The Buried Life centers on Recoletta, Cities and Thrones draws in other locations, too. In fact, much of the story takes place in Madina, a city northwest of Recoletta. Yet even though the two cities are only a few hundred miles away, they feel like different countries. Technically, they are.

Cities in the world of The Buried Life and Cities and Thrones originate from extensive underground bunkers that sheltered humanity during a global catastrophe many centuries before the events in the books. They develop in isolation over their first few hundred years, which gives minor differences time to develop into deep cultural gulfs.

From a world building perspective, this creates the need and opportunity to establish different civilizations side by side.

Readers may note that Madina is located roughly in the area of modern-day Detroit, a city with a large Arab-American population. The culture of Madina reflects that to a limited degree. Most residents have recognizably Arabic first names. The city is led not by a council, but by a (secular) judge known as the “Qadi.” Local customs reflect the importance of hospitality, which contrasts with Recoletta’s preoccupation with distance and privacy.

Of course, Madina isn’t supposed to represent a real, present-day culture any more than Recoletta is; both cities are “what-if” scenarios of societies grown in a Petri dish. But just as Recoletta took some inspiration from Buenos Aires, Madina was partially influenced by a trip to Jordan.

I visited Jordan a few years ago when one of my sisters was living there. It was a beautiful country, and what struck me most was the warmth of the locals. People were gracious and seemed genuinely pleased to see foreigners visiting their country. The phrase we heard more often than any other—from shopkeepers and traffic cops alike—was, “You are welcome in Jordan.” Jane has a similar experience in Madina and finds it easier to get along as a foreigner there than as a low-caste domestic worker in her home city of Recoletta.

In a broader sense, travel becomes important to the characters and story of Cities and Thrones. Travel forces people (happily or otherwise) to confront new possibilities and to see themselves and the places they come from in a new light. One of the most poignant experiences of travel is returning home to appreciate (or not) things you’d barely noticed before. Most of the characters of Cities and Thrones have lived their entire lives in one place. When they venture beyond it, it’s either to flee and survive or to wrangle and bargain with people they barely understand, let alone trust.

Travel changes the characters, and it shows them how the places they’ve come from have changed, too. In that sense, it’s a vital catalyst for the key arcs and developments in Cities and Thrones.

What are some of your places to travel? Let us know in the comments! 

Thanks to Carrie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to write this post for us, and thanks to you for stopping by! 

--Ashley & Paul

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