There are times when you meet a fellow author and things just click. I had that experience when I met this author. Like Patrice, I am a fan of Jane Austen fan fiction and of fantasy, so I was tickled to see that she has published in both of these genres. Please give a welcome to Patrice Sarath here on No Wasted Ink.
My name is Patrice Sarath. I am a writer from Austin, Texas. My fantasy series, Books of the Gordath, includes Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl. My sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, called The Unexpected Miss Bennet, came out of my great fondness for Austen’s works. I also write short stories, which have appeared in Weird Tales, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Gate, and Realms of Fantasy, and other magazines and anthologies. When I’m not writing I’m mucking around with horses or riding my bike or playing with my dogs.
When and why did you begin writing?
I was five years old when I wrote my first book. Maybe younger, because I couldn’t actually write. But I wrote the best monster story ever and then threw it dramatically into the fire, because it didn’t measure up to the ideas and images in my head.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
The Crow God’s Girl is the third book in my Gordath cycle, but it is not the conclusion of the trilogy; in fact, it can be read as the starting point. In The Crow God’s Girl, Kate Mossland, a 21st century teenager from North Salem, New York, is trapped in an alternate fantasy world. Everything is going to be okay, though, because she is betrothed to a noble young man and she is going to be quite wealthy and well-protected and respected. Of course, the best laid plans are the ones that an author loves to gleefully upturn, so naturally things happen to upset that apple cart. Kate discovers that she has hidden strengths that carry her through to a new life far from the one she originally thought she was destined for.
What inspired you to write this book?
The entire Gordath cycle came out of my experiences growing up in Connecticut. I rode horses there — it’s some of the prettiest horse country in the world — and riding on the trails you could be a few miles away from the highway but it felt like the middle of nowhere. What would it be like if you could ride your horse straight into another world? I brought that idea into the Gordath cycle and it continues in The Crow God’s Girl.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure how to describe my style — I think that’s best left up to my readers. However, when I was writing The Unexpected Miss Bennet, I adopted a modified Austenesque style. Austen was a busy writer but she can also be very modern and stripped down, even if we don’t always see that. My Miss Bennet tends toward Austen’s stripped down style with I hope something of her wit. It begins, “It is a comforting belief among much of society, that a plain girl with a small fortune has no more interest in matrimony than matrimony has in her.”
How did you come up with the title of this book?
That’s a great question! I have a wonderful writer’s group called Cryptopolis. I put several title ideas out to them — the working title of the book was Lady of Temia — and then one of my friends came up with something completely different. And it stuck. So if you need a title, call Patrick. He’s good at this kind of thing. My first book, Gordath Wood, was my title — Red Gold Bridge was suggested by my editor at Penguin, Susan Allison. And I am proud to say that I came up with The Unexpected Miss Bennet, which I think really suits my book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t really do messages. That’s for readers to come up with. I want readers to enjoy my books, re-read them, find different nuances they missed the first time, etc. But messages should never be a writer’s mission. Well, that’s of course for every writer to decide. But messages are not my mission anyway.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The inciting event in the Gordath cycle is getting lost in the woods. When I was 12 years old, I got lost in the woods and went missing for a very long day. I use some of that in the first book when Lynn Romano first disappears in Gordath Wood. It was a scary, exhausting day, and I know I put a lot of my experience into her experience. And of course, the opportunity to ride in some of the prettiest countryside also made it in the book.
What authors have most influenced your life?
Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien. Stephen King. Robert Louis Stevenson. Georgette Heyer. The Brontes. Barbara Kingsolver. There are others, but these are the authors who come to mind first.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?
I am friends with and fans of several writers, but none who I would consider a mentor. That said, I learn from all of them.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Aleta Rafton did the cover art for The Crow God’s Girl. I selected her because I love the covers she did for Gordath Wood and Red Gold Bridge and it was important that this book to have the same look and feel. The cover designer is David Chang, who is in my writer’s group, Cryptopolis. He did a fantastic job.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
At this point, if you are a writer, aspiring or otherwise, you’ve heard it all. Everyone has said the same thing, and there are only so many ways to say, write every day, persevere, always learn, always seek to hone your craft, and develop a thick skin so you can withstand rejection but also learn from criticism. So there’s no point in saying it all again, really. That’s the only formula I have.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If you like fantasy, romance, and adventure, you will like The Crow God’s Girl. So please, take a look and check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Covert art by Aleta Rafton