What is it all about?
That's a good question. Behind the Ruins is about a belief – that good minimalist writing allows more reader involvement and appreciation of characters and their emotions than thickly descriptive genre-standard writing.
Hemingway was famous for advising writers to write true things, simply. It’s an interesting mix to strive for that brightly-lit clarity with characters that react as real people would in a patently unreal environment. I mean, the world of Behind the Ruins has lost every piece of electronics more complex than a vacuum tube or a dry cell thanks to wave after wave of meteor strikes in the earth’s upper atmosphere. That series of strikes would push our tech-savvy civilization straight into utter chaos – no phones, no computers, no power, no vehicles, hospitals that had no working equipment. In a matter of a few weeks or months of repeated strikes, the world would be back at a technologic level very close to that of the Victorian era. Surviving the initial spiral of famine, disease and disorder would be horrifying, but what interested me more than the nuts and bolts of the wheels falling off the world was the effect it would have on the survivors. What would they have done to live through the first decade or so, and how would they survive their own memories as the world began to heal again?
Big meteors and the destruction of the post-industrial world are dramatic, but the real drama, to me at least, is to be found in the people that continue on, and the choices they make.
The novel is about survival, warfare and conflict, but the real meat lies in concepts like guilt, redemption and change.
Which should be true of any story.