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 ~ 2 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.

“The Prospectors” by Karen Russell, The New Yorker June 8, 2015.

The One Mission, by Patricia Russo, Daily Science Fiction, June 26, 2015.

“The Seeker: A Poison in the Blood,” Victor Milán, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Soul Remembers Uncouth Noises,” John Barnes, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Hermit and the Jackalopes,” Jane Lindskold, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, June 2015

“The Quest You Have Chosen Defies Your Fate,” Beth Cato, Daily Science Fiction, August 2015

“Little Man,” Michael Cunningham, The New Yorker, August 10, 2015.

Novella Category:

Waters of Versailles, by Kelly Robson,, June 2015.

In the novel category:

Medicine for the Dead, by Arianne “Tex” Thompson. Solaris.


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?

21 August 2015 ~ 1 Comment

“The Martian” is coming

the martianHave you read The Martian yet? Have you? Have you seen the trailers, both the first one and the funny one? Aren’t they awesome? Won’t this be fun? Can we stand it, that we have to wait?

How much longer? Is it now?


I really loved this book. First heard about it at the beginning of the year from Amy Sisson, who has my undying gratitude (a spot-on book rec will do that to a person). I read it in one fell swoop,, and then re-read the hard parts (some of the science is confusing), and then re-read the whole thing a few months ago.

Here’s what I love: the science. The fact that science saves the day. The fact that giving up is not an option.

I love the optimism.

I love the fact that, like the true story of Apollo 13, the world comes together for this one guy, and everyone is hoping he makes it. For the four years of the book, people of the world look up at the stars and they see a lost person who is trying to come home. Isn’t that awesome? I think that’s awesome.

What I didn’t like: Watney’s kind of a jerk when it comes to women. He makes these “nice guy sexist” comments that give me this reflexive little twitch at every one of them. A fellow astronaut is spoken of admiringly solely for her looks. Her shy personality is also very similar to that of another scientist, the one who figures out that Watney’s alive. Two women scientists who are blushing and shy? It was just kind of weird.

By the way, Andy Weir, if you are Googling yourself (oh come on, admit it) and you come across this comment — I don’t actually care that much about the above. I mean, I care, and I wish that maybe you hadn’t made that creative choice, but The Martian is fucking awesome, so you know, that’s basically what it is. I wish you hadn’t made that creative choice.

People will care about it and they will be a helluva lot louder than me about the above. They will write loudly and they will write strongly about what’s wrong with that creative choice.

And they will be right to do so.

But right now, for me, here’s what I care about. I care about some kid, girl or boy, who sees the movie or reads the book and decides to be a scientist.

Because what I want is for this book and movie to turn around the dreadful science education in this country. I want science to save the day again, not be mistrusted, and lied about, and demonized. Maybe that’s a lot to ask of one book and one movie, but I can’t help but be optimistic.

Is the movie here yet?

How about now?


26 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

ArmadilloCon wrapup

I am feeling more of a let-down from this year’s ArmadilloCon, possibly because it was one of the best in recent years. I lingered longer than usual on Sunday, and as a result I napped hard when I got home (this despite fortifying myself with a latte for the road).

In no particular order, here’s what happened:

Ken Liu‘s presentation on translating The Three Body Problem. Thoughtful and philosophical, about language, culture, meaning, and intention in translation.

Michelle Muenzler’s reading, and also her moderation of the Hugos discussion. Well done, Michelle!

The classic feminist SF panel. We did great, and thanks to L. Timmel Duchamp chiming in from the audience, we managed to touch on everyone.

Growing the Next Generation of Readers — Mari Mancusi had good data, and KB Rylander came prepared with evidentiary support. I’m linking to KB’s award-winning short story because I can and you all should read it.

Fannish Food — laughter and fun and blatant cheating.

How to Perform Major Surgery on Your Novel — kill your darlings, kill your darlings, kill your darlings. Also, editors are on your side, so be professional and use the criticism.

Rebecca Schwarz‘s lovely lyrical story, in which she brought it all together at the end in a surprising way. A story that made me go, oh!

The science fiction mystery panel: I got so many recommendations, and my to-read pile has just doubled in size.

Friends and supporters who came to hear my reading. I am always happy to take my words out for a spin.

Next up: FenCon in September. Can’t wait.


20 July 2015 ~ 2 Comments

On “Go Set a Watchman”

Of all the mysteries surrounding Harper Lee’s second novel, the question of whether it’s a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird is the one I was the most curious about. We won’t ever know if Harper Lee is a mentally and physically frail old lady who was duped into publishing a second novel for the enrichment of her family and circle of caretakers. And actually, we can’t ever know for sure what Go Set a Watchman was really meant to be written as, but there are clues in the text to two paths.

The first path, and the most widely accepted, is that Watchman is a sequel to Mockingbird. Scout is all grown up, and she comes back to Maycomb to discover that everything she thought she knew about her father and his goodness and decency is wrong. He is a hypocrite, the worst kind of hypocrite, because he taught her differently and she believed him, and to find out as she does that he is thoroughly racist, a benevolent bigot, is almost unbearable to read. The last quarter of the book is Jean Louise in physical and spiritual pain over everything she has lost — her love for her father and her image of him as a good and just man.

“You cheated me, you’ve driven me out of my home and now I’m in a no man’s land but good — there’s no place for me any more in Maycomb, and I’ll never be entirely at home anywhere else.” Scout Finch, in Go Set A Watchman

Scout’s anguished cry is echoed by the outrage of readers who remember Atticus Finch from the books, and more likely, the movie. Reading the last segment of the book was painful*, and I’m not even a huge Mockingbird fan. Atticus Finch is a beloved literary figure who has become a part of our culture of redemption. Atticus is a part of the story of the US. When race relations in the US dip to all-time lows, as they currently are, Atticus is a beacon of light in the darkness.

If Watchman is a sequel, then it’s a sequel that takes away a big part of our cultural complacency and replaces it with uncertainty. If Atticus Finch is a bigot, where does that leave us? And if Lee wrote him that way, what does she mean by it? Mockingbird is a pretty simple albeit well-written book, which is why it’s given to thirteen-year-olds to read. It’s probably the first “serious” book many of them have read, and it’s an introduction to US literature. And here’s where I go on a speculation binge — could it be that Lee wanted Watchman to re-set a course? Had she seen what she had created, this impossibly sainted Atticus Finch, and she wanted to bring him to earth? By puncturing a myth, we can take a hard look at the truth. And the truth is, we weren’t done with race in the 1950s, and we aren’t done with it now.

There’s another school of thought on Watchman, that the lost novel was the ur-text of Mockingbird. This story goes that Lee’s editor told her to just write the bits about Scout being a tomboy. And indeed, the Scout flashbacks are pretty funny, although they don’t have anywhere near the power of the rest of the book. Lee also talks about Atticus’s famous trial, but it’s not shown, it’s merely referred to as further illumination of his character, and it’s all the more searing because he no longer lives up to that image.

I haven’t read Mockingbird in a long time, but this path doesn’t read true to me. Watchman doesn’t even include the events that take place in Mockingbird, and two of the main characters — Jem and Dill — don’t show up in Watchman except by mention. I think it’s a sequel, and I think Lee wrote it deliberately and with some forethought to, as I said, re-right the course that Mockingbird took.

Or at least, that’s my speculation. We can’t know, can we?

From the moment I read about the discovery (or “discovery”) of Go Set A Watchman, I knew I had to read it. As I said, I’m not a monumental Mockingbird fan, but this book is work by a major cultural figure of the 20th century. Can you imagine a lost manuscript of Dickens, found in the twilight of his life? Or Jane Austen, or Mark Twain? Harper Lee is one of the signature voices of her age, and Mockingbird has never lost its relevance. I believe that in the coming decades, Watchman will be more than just a curious bookend, an asterisk or a footnote to history, but it will take its place next to Mockingbird as the right and fitting conclusion to the story.

It’s a sequel. It turns Mockingbird on its head, and even if Lee was conned into publishing it, as sad as that scenario is, it would have been worse if Watchman had never come to light.

Because now we can have a different conversation about Atticus Finch, and maybe it will be a more realistic one than the hagiography of Mockingbird. It’s not that we shouldn’t have heroes, and that they should always be torn down, but Watchman reveals that Lee also had something more to say about Atticus, and it’s fitting and right that she gets to say it, and the conversation gets to continue.

*Atticus’s defense is the tired defense of states’ rights and Southern culture and individualism, and also that Negroes are not ready for full equality. Remember, this book was written in the 1950s, before the Confederate battle flag was plastered all over the South, on public buildings and the like. And the way he defends himself is so paternalistic and sickening. It’s shocking to read.