Author Patrice Sarath

Welcome! I am the author of The Crow God’s Girl, the third book in the Books of the Gordath cycle published by Ace Fantasy. My novel The Unexpected Miss Bennet is published by Robert Hale Ltd and Penguin Berkley. You can find excerpts of my novels and a few of my short stories via the Tales link above, and learn more about me in my blog. Thanks for stopping by.

26 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Best short stories of 2015

This time, folks, I’m doing it right. I’m going to  keep a running tally of stories that I really liked so that when review season comes around, I won’t be scratching my head going, what did I read again? Feel free to ping me with the stories that you have read so I can read them!

Beautiful Boys, by Theodora Goss. First published in Lightspeed in January 2015.

Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Apocalypse, by Claire Spaulding. First published in Daily Science Fiction in February 2015.

Labyrinth, by Amelia Grey. First published in The New Yorker, February 16, 2015.

The Other Side of Pain, by Haley Isleib, First published in Daily Science Fiction in March 2015.

This is the Story that Devours Itself, by Michelle Muenzler, Daily Science Fiction in March 2015.

 

 

18 July 2013 ~ 1 Comment

What readers want

A book is like a faerie door -- enter at your own peril.

A book is like a faerie door — enter at your own peril.

Announcing a new blog series, and I’m looking for your input. What Readers Want asks readers of all genres what they are looking for in a good book (or not so good book, we don’t judge). This isn’t market research per se; no one is going to run out and write a book based on elements people post here. But it’s a fair way to get at the mystery of what makes a good book.

So readers: Are there things you miss in books? Things you love? Things you are so over, you wish the genre would move on already?

Tell us all about the characters, plots, and settings that make your heart sing or the opposite — the ones that disappointed. I want to hear from you!

What Readers Want:

What do you like in a good book?
What ruins a book for you?
I want a protagonist who…
I want an antagonist who…
I long for settings and plot that…
I like series that…
I will read anything that has…

Answer in the comments or ping me with an e-mail on the contact form.

 

03 July 2013 ~ 4 Comments

YA vs NA

What’s the difference between YA and NA (New Adult)?

Depends on who you talk to. For some agents and editors, NA specifically means sexytimes, and NA is therefore shelved with women’s fiction. For other agents and editors, NA may have adult themes and older protagonists, but it doesn’t have to have adult sexual content.

With so many adult readers reading YA, it was inevitable that novels aimed at the 18-25 year old bracket would make it onto the shelves. I myself believe that it directly comes out of the fanfic and slash fandom communities. I think NA can be a fantastic addition to books for adult readers. Some YA is middle grade and younger, and while it’s great stuff, it doesn’t have the sophistication (perhaps) that can be enjoyed by older readers. Also, many 16 year olds may not want to be seen reading stuff for younger kids.

Ace fantasy book Red Gold BridgeBut does that mean that YA for older (say 16-18 year olds) is going to give way? Will there be a market for books for older teens that explores adult themes but doesn’t necessarily include adult content? Are we narrowbanding the genre and constricting it so much that we lose some of the upper-age group for this genre?

In my own books, the Gordath Wood series, they are definitely not YA, though the character of Kate Mossland is just barely 16 in the first book, and is only 17 by the third — and by then she has not only grown up, she has changed the very course of the history of her adopted country, and is embarking on a relationship with an older man. Although there is frank talk of sexuality, especially birth control, there is very little sexual content.

crow-gods-girl-front-smcrowYA or NA? I’m not sure.

What do you think of the new NA genre?

13 April 2015 ~ 1 Comment

Election season

Okay, Hillary has announced. The election season has officially begun, and it’s going to be a long hard slog, so here’s a reminder about the newsworthiness of the variety of news organizations that are likely to be hitting your Facebook feed for the next several hundred months, or however long it’s going to feel. Seriously, it’s like the Earth’s orbit around the Sun takes a few loop-de-loops.

Here are the easy ones:

Fox News and Huffington Post are equal in value as far as newsworthiness, for the values that are zero and anything times zero. Doesn’t matter what side you are on. Both are excellent at the confirmation bias game. They require a very large grain of salt.

Likewise, in the same category are Salon and the Daily Mail. Now, there’s an interesting thing about the Daily Mail. I’ve noticed a lot of Americans think it’s an objective source for news about the US and the world, just because it is published in the UK. What you’re thinking of is The Guardian, or even The Times of London, and possibly The Economist. The Daily Mail is none of those things. It’s a crap newspaper that makes up stories and quotes, and gets away with it because it uses British spelling. Avoid.

Don’t trust Salon on anything other than its columns about culture, especially books (Laura Miller! I love you!) and possibly its articles about sex, but even that’s dubious.

Buzzfeed, Jezebel, Upworthy (gag!) have nothing but entertainment value. Share their political “news” in your feed, and you deserve to be mocked.

And any news organization that uses clickbait headlines such as “Shocking!” deserves to be shunned.

Slate. Slate has its good points. Slate’s political coverage leans left (as Colbert famously said, “reality has a well-known liberal bias”) but it also provides links to thoughtful coverage with a different viewpoint, and I think it can be counted as a decent source for the election season. However, it is doing the thing I hate, which is provocative headlines without context. Yeah, Slate does clickbait, but then it also has decent coverage.

For my liberal friends, here’s a surprising source: The Wall Street Journal. Their reporting is solid and objective. Their editorial page is a crazy-ass display of conservative frothing, but the actual news is good. Ignore the silverbacks in editorial, and you can amaze your friends by linking to cogent reporting (and watch them all unfriend you, but it’s that time of year anyway).

For my conservative friends: Yes, The New York Times drives you to drink. We get it. But ignore the editorials and the columnists, and just go for the news. They’re still good at what they do.

Reuters. Once upon a time Reuters sent news scoops by carrier pigeon. This is so awesome that you can’t even make that up. Reuters news is written by reporters who were cryonically frozen in the 1950s. They write their stories on 25-pound solid iron Underwood typewriters on a solid sheets of newsprint, and yell things like “Copy boy! Copy boy!” and “Stop the presses!” They may even still send their editors dispatches by carrier pigeon. The point is, Reuters doesn’t have a bias. It just has news. It’s like news ingredients. It’s like news that other organizations buy in bulk (they kinda do) and then add their own spices to.

It’s really kind of boring. But you will probably make some 1950s-era reporter’s day to find out that you’ve shared his story on Facebook.

(If he even knows what that is.)

The Atlantic and The New Yorker. You know who you are. You know what you read. Yeah, they do the confirmation bias thing, but at least it’s real.

PBS News Hour. I think the last time I watched was at least six months ago. What can I say? Virtue is boring.

So what are your sources? Where do you go for enemy intel or sneak out to find tasty tidbits of truth, fact, and unbiased reporting? In a frothy atmosphere of lies and manipulation, where we are forcefed banalities and ginned-up outrage like geese undergoing gavage, where do you go for a palate-cleansing who, what, where, when, and why?

Here’s to the next billion years of an election cycle.

 

03 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

To write is to live…

But to live is to have something to say.

Lately I’ve read a number of essays and posts on writing, finding the time to write, and the impact of living — having children, a job, obligations — on one’s writing. It is no secret that women have less time to write than men. We bear children and raise them, and even if we work hard not to gatekeep, it is usually our time spent in the drudgery of child-rearing, not our husband’s.

I read somewhere that Ursula Le Guin felt she lost a novel for each of her children, that the time she would have had to write was given over to motherhood. Implicit in this statement is a sense of frustration, no matter how matter-of-fact she may have said the words.

And yet. We don’t have to bear children to lose time. Anything can take it from us — illness, caregiving, and even good things like travel, moving house, a career, a sport, a hobby. We can lose time by wasting it, by deciding that writing isn’t what we want at the moment, until we want it back again. Writer’s block can force us to wait, impatiently, for inspiration to strike, for long-atrophied muscles to get back into the habit of daily word.

We can be blocked by fear and we can be blocked by joy.

We should not blame our children for not writing. The physiological and mental changes of being pregnant and giving  birth are real and undeniable, and there is a price to be paid for motherhood that fathers don’t tend to pay. Lack of sleep, the very fact of giving our bodies to nourish our young, the emotional changes that both challenge and exhilarate, all of these factor into a barrier to sitting down and writing. Post-partum depression is real and debilitating, and the crushing melange of fear, love, exhaustion, rage, and happiness that accompanies the first year of our children’s lives should all be acknowledged and accepted and bitterly fought, and negotiated, and bartered, and challenged every step of the way. We should understand why we are blocked, and we should never let it stop us, and we should also know that it’s very purpose is to stop us. Biology grabs us by the lapels and screams at us — stop! You have only one job now, and that is to nourish the next generation at the cost of your self because your self doesn’t matter. Only protection of your genetic legacy matters. And we feel this from deep within our core, because it’s programmed in our cells. As far as biology is concerned, your soul, your desires, your ambition, and your emotions are useless. The only thing that matters is being a mother.

Be warned: Biology is a selfish asshole. It doesn’t care about you, and you should not care about it.

The point is this: life gets in the way of writing all the time. You don’t have to have a baby to be kept from writing. It’s only that women are made to feel bad about it.

From Bea Ballard’s obituary of her father, J.G. Ballard:

He had raised three of us single-handedly following my mother’s premature death when we were five, seven and nine. It was the 60s, when single fathers didn’t do that sort of thing. Most of his friends were sceptical. But he did raise us, as father, mother and much more besides. Fortunately for him, and for us, his work as a writer meant he could work from home and juggle writing with the care of us. So in between school runs, ironing school ties and cooking sausages and mashed potato, he wrote his novels and short stories – one minute conjuring up wild dystopias, the next watching Blue Peter.

There are a lot of things to unpack here. One is that for everyone, writing time is at a premium. Women have less of it than men do. Sometimes that is because our time is devalued by others and sometimes it’s because we devalue it ourselves, and we hand over the time we should be keeping to ourselves.

Another thing to unpack: writing time should be at a premium. We should be living. Doing. For some women, that means raising a family, whether we stay home or have a career outside the home. But that’s not the only path. Think of all the things you want to do, that fulfill you.

Long drives by yourselves. Painting. Woodworking. Learning languages. Dancing. Singing. Playing softball. Arguing politics. Having dinner parties. Volunteering. Dog training. Bike riding. Hiking…

It’s not writing. It’s living. And we should all be doing more of it, not less.

So when we think about the ways that our lives have constrained us and kept us from writing, we should think, yes. Yes, my life has kept me from writing.

But at least now I have something to say.

 

 

 

 

 

28 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

My three Jewish Dads: Sarath, Nimoy, Oppenheimer

Edward Sarath, my dad.

Edward Sarath, my dad.

There were two men who reminded me of my father: Leonard Nimoy and J. Robert Oppenheimer. As a teenager I conflated the three of them so much that I think I may have intertwined details of their lives and thoughts with that of my real dad.

 

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy

I of course came to know Nimoy through Spock, but it was never Spock that I was thinking of. It was always Nimoy.

 

J. Robert Oppenheimer

J. Robert Oppenheimer

And after I did a project on the Manhattan Project for History in high school, I definitely conflated Oppy with my dad. So essentially I have these three Jewish men in my life who were all one great big mixed-up father figure. I look back now and just shake my head — who knows that goes in the human heart that it recognizes something essential about three completely different individuals? Is it culture — or another quality that is brought out by that culture?

Here’s to Edward Noah Sarath, Leonard Nimoy, and Oppy. Jewish men, changing the world.