The Earth Below centres on a community which has been trapped underground after a series of cataclysmic events destroyed the city above. Strict rules prevent emotional attachments with partners or offspring. Children are brought up by the community as a whole, and registered partnerships are permitted for a limited time only.
Marri, a twenty-year-old woman, has an unfortunate tendency to speak her mind and follow her heart. The story begins when she is released from imprisonment for attempting to continue a relationship with her partner past the stipulated period. She discovers her best friend Felix is in trouble too, and might be executed if his contraventions are discovered.
Eventually, Marri and Felix decide that the only answer is to flee to the world above, leaving Marri’s three children behind. They are pursued by the armed Strikeforces, including Marri’s former partner Macon, the man she’s tried to stop loving. Marri and Felix are desperately underprepared for the urban wasteland above. Are the rumours of another settlement true? And will they survive long enough to find out?
The Earth Below is a dystopia, a romance and an adventurous escape rolled into one. Readers follow Marri’s struggles against the oppressive rules and the difficulties in deciding to leave her community. It’s a story that mirrors contemporary questions of sexuality, parenthood, freedoms in society, cultural clashes and the limits of law. It will appeal to older teens and adult readers.
I'm proud to say that the manuscript is one of four Commended in the 2016 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award!
The book will be published by Ligature, hopefully in 2018.