World building in dystopian novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall

We, The Watched and Divided We Fall are set in an unnamed nation that is not unlike the US, UK, Australia or other “western” countries, but is much further along in its use of government surveillance.

While technically science fiction, I purposely avoided any out-there, overly futuristic elements in order to keep these books as grounded in reality as possible. The surveillance technologies discussed in the book mix what’s available today with what there is potential for in the future. I wanted to create a place that, while fictional, didn’t seem like much of a stretch given the current debate over government surveillance.

My novels have two interlinked, overarching conflicts, with three sides.

Within the country, you have the government and the Church together in a fight against revolutionaries who call themselves the Underground. Essentially, I took America’s First Amendment promise of separation of Church and State and turned it on its head. By uniting, they exercise totalitarian control over the people. The government provides physical enforcement while the Church spreads the psychological propaganda that keeps the people in line.

Illustrating the merger of Church and State is the motto of the Guard, the nation’s army:

PATRIOTS ARE THE TRUE. HERETICS ARE THE DAMNED.

Holding to that policy, the Guard keeps a Watched list of suspicious citizens. Those who are found out as Heretics face public execution.

Are you being watched? Take the quiz!

Naturally, not everyone’s going to agree with that, and the strongest opponents have formed a revolutionary group called the Underground. Funded by a mysterious benefactor, the Underground collects evidence of the government’s wrongdoing in an effort to gather followers and spur an uprising.

The symbol of the Underground.
The fire-eyed graffiti symbol of the Underground.

Meanwhile, there is a second conflict–an international war between the nation and an unnamed Enemy. The division between the government and the Underground makes the nation weak against the Enemy. The more internal division, the worse things seem to get in the war against the Enemy.

The hero of my novels, Seven, enters this nation without memory. Like the reader, Seven finds it all very strange and forms an opinion of who is in the right and who is in the wrong. But what can one man do, especially when the punishment for treason is execution?

Find out this answer and more in We, The Watched and the sequel, Divided We Fall, available now from Amazon and other major online booksellers!

You can also get the first book free by signing up for my newsletter via NoiseTrade below! If you sign up in the next month, I’ll throw in the sequel! (eBooks only)

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