Q&A with Eliot Pattison discussion

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Ashes of the Earth

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message 1: by Eliot (new)

Eliot Pattison | 14 comments Mod
Please post all questions regarding Ashes of the Earth here.


message 2: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele B. | 2 comments Hi Eliot -

A friend of mine recommended Ashes of the Earth to me and I loved it. I was particularly fascinated with the resistance of first generation survivors to share their experiences about the old world and the new generation's fascination with that world. Their attempt to "move on" and to hide the old world seemed to futile because after all this time, their present was still so steeped in the past. It made me wonder if that would ever change in a world that has experienced a holocaust like it. Do you believe that in the future of your book's world, your characters will ever live in an untainted present and really make a fresh start?


message 3: by Eliot (new)

Eliot Pattison | 14 comments Mod
Gabriele--

A great question. The most unexpected aspect of writing Ashes was the evolution of my characters. By setting the book a generation after the actual apocalypse, I was able to insert a fresh generation to play off the survivors. The characters became very real to me, very close companions, and the friction between them felt very genuine--and an effective way to develop the characters. My survivors felt guilt, despair and shame about the prior world, and the new generation felt confusion and resentment.

In a sense these characters are making a fresh start every day, and I do think as time progresses there will be more of the "new" world than the old in their society. Yet there are interesting questions raised, like who are we without our past? How much does culture and history define us? How much does it just shield us from making hard decisions?

What do you think?

Eliot


message 4: by Gabriele (new)

Gabriele B. | 2 comments I think that our psychological make-up and the way we look at the present and future comes from the past. It's interesting because I practice Yoga, precisely because the idea to just exist in the present without drawing from either past or future is so difficult for me. I guess that's a Western thing. So in regards to your question, I think that our past defines us but it's up to us to act on the past or to, as you say, make hard decisions that are not necessarily a reaction to what happened in the past - as difficult as that seems.


message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill Amundson | 1 comments Hi Eliot -

I really liked Ashes of the Earth. I have to admit that it gave me nightmares:-) But in a good way. The setting was so vivid. What made you chose the location?


message 6: by Eliot (new)

Eliot Pattison | 14 comments Mod
Gabriele wrote: "I think that our psychological make-up and the way we look at the present and future comes from the past. It's interesting because I practice Yoga, precisely because the idea to just exist in the p..."

Maybe the advance of civilization--or call it the progress of humankind--depends on how much we are willing to deliberately move on from our past. In a very real way that became a theme in Ashes.

Eliot


message 7: by Eliot (new)

Eliot Pattison | 14 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Hi Eliot -

I really liked Ashes of the Earth. I have to admit that it gave me nightmares:-) But in a good way. The setting was so vivid. What made you chose the location?"


Jill--Thanks for the message and kind words about Ashes. You mention nightmares--during the last few weeks of writing the book I had post-apocalyptic dreams almost every night; some I would call nightmares but others were just intriguing.

I always try to have my physical backdrops play a role, almost like that of a character, in my books. A lot of factors went into my decsion to set it on the Great Lakes--I needed somewhere remote enough to plausibly escape the destruction, rich enough in natural resources to support new, albeit primitive, industry, and somewhere where water transportation would be readily available since long distance roads are a thing of the past. And I have always admired the beauty of those big lakes.

best,

Eliot


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