Guest interview: Patrice Sarath, the author of FOG SEASON

Patrice Sarath is an author and editor living in Austin, Texas. Her novels include the fantasy books The Sisters Mederos and Fog Season (Books I and II of the Tales of Port Saint Frey), the series Books of the Gordath (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl) and the romance The Unexpected Miss Bennet.

Patrice is the author of numerous short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Weird Tales, Black Gate, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, and many others. Her short story “A Prayer for Captain La Hire” was included in Year’s Best Fantasy of 2003 compiled by David Hartwell and Katherine Cramer. Her story “Pigs and Feaches,” originally published in Apex Digest, was reprinted in 2013 in Best Tales of the Apocalypse by Permuted Press.

Fog Season, has been released this week by Angry Robot Books, UK

After the shocking events of last summer, the high society of Port Saint Frey has plenty to gossip about. Who was the Gentleman Bandit? Why hasn’t he been captured? And what really happened that night when the Guildmaster disappeared? When the Guild hires Abel Fresnel, a detective with special powers of his own, to find the answers, Tesara and Yvienne Mederos have to avoid his probing questions and keep mum about their role in the events of that dark night. Everything’s more or less under control until a dead man turns up in the dumbwaiter…


Today I’ve asked Patrice to stop by and answer some questins about her writing. And here is what I’ve learned:


Q: What do you like most about worldbuilding? What are your biggest challenges?

A: I think every fantasy and science fiction writer gets in the game for the worldbuilding. I mean, it’s the most fun, right? My goal with worldbuilding is to make the created world feel as lived in as our own. I focus on character interaction with their world in the same way we interact with ours. I don’t write paragraphs of long detail but instead provide my worldbuilding in small, concrete illustrations of how the world feels, smells, looks, and impacts the character.

In the Tales of Port Saint Frey (The Sisters Mederos and Fog Season), the world is a secondary fantasy world that is an analogue to a late Regency/early Victorian timeframe. Therefore the science and technology are roughly the same as that time period. Even though automobiles and trains don’t appear in the world, they are about 30 to 40 years in the future. If I get to keep writing stories in this world, this level of technology will appear.

There are other little tidbits of information about the world that I keep to myself. I know what the wider world is like, but the characters are focused on their lives and their problems in their own port city, hence the title, The Tales of Port Saint Frey. With each successive novel, however, this wider world will impinge upon the characters.

This is what I love about worldbuilding, to create this lived-in, three-dimensional setting, that gives the reader a sense that the world carries on when they close the book. It’s also the hardest to get right. When writing fantasy we have to describe something the character takes for granted to a reader who has never encountered it before. It’s a puzzle, and I love when I nail it, because when you can make a reader feel as if they’ve been somewhere before, no matter how fantastic — or conversely, make them want to go there — you’ve provided an excellent reader experience. And that’s what it’s all about.


Q: Do you write your novels by outlines and in sequence of events? Or, do you jump around?

A: I am so not an outliner. I have a writing friend who creates these elaborate, multipage outlines before she writes a single word of the story, and I Just. Can’t. Do it. That said, I actually do outline. I outline as I go. When I finish a writing session, I jot out what has to happen next, and even fill that out as I go along, and build the novel out. I don’t always adhere to that outline, but it gives me guidelines of where roughly the story has to go. The characters don’t always listen to the outline, so I trust what they have to say, and I’m flexible.

I used to not outline at all, and as a result I would end up cutting anywhere from 20,000 words to 40,000 words when the novel took a turn that didn’t work. I haven’t done that in a while, which is a good thing.

I do write out of sequence often, and that can be quite fun. If I am writing toward an impactful scene, one that will drive a reversal in the book or change the course of my characters’ lives, I’ll go ahead and write that scene and then write toward it. It’s a great feeling to meet up with it — it’s like there’s a palpable click as the two parts of the manuscript meet.


Q: What are the benefits and challenges of incorporating romance subplots into your fantasy?

I love romance so much, and there are romantic elements in every book that I write. Connection is important, emotional journeys are important, and love gives meaning to everyone’s lives. Love stories inside fantasy stories are a perfect fit, because we are writing these larger-than-life characters in larger-than-life settings, with magic and mayhem and adventure–of course there should be romantic intrigue. Now, having said all that I prefer that my characters not get hitched to the first person they kiss, especially if they are young, like the sisters in The Sisters Mederos, so I don’t take my romance all the way to a romance HEA. I let them have plenty of kissing though, even unsuitable boys. But that’s just me.

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…It’s in production! And, it’s going to be gorgeous — I just know it!

With my foreign language background, I tend to find an odd dissonance between the words as they sound in my head and their look on the page. I carefully avoid reading my text out loud before it is completely finished, because these off-accent sounds tend to kill the mood for me. There are also all the layers of seeing my words on the computer screen and on a printed page.

And then there are the names. I’ve seen readers and reviewers comment on them, and sometimes wonder about their pronounciation.

You can’t imagine my excitement when earlier this month I received an audiobook contract for BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE, the first book in my Majat Code series. Or, the excitement of discussing the pronounciation key and writing down the way the character names sound in my head. Getting the narrator’s input and great suggestions on conveying the accents and flavors of speech in my book, from the northerners living around the Majat Fortress, to the commoners’ speech in the Lakelands, and the soft lilt of the visitors from the deserts of Shayil Yara… I am so excited to hear it all for the first time, and to witness my created world acquire new dimensions through the narrator’s voice.

And yes — hint, hint — this is only the beginning… Stay tuned for more!

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SHADOWBLADE cover and updates!

Yes, it is really happening: my new novel, SHADOWBLADE, upcoming from Angry Robot in May 2019, has a gorgeous new cover by the amazing Alejandro Colucci, who just has the knack of bringing my characters to life:

The book, along with an exclusive excerpt, has been featured in a wonderful USA Today post late last year, and is mentioned by Kirkus as part of the stellar 2019 lineup. It is going out for reviews very soon, and it is of course available for preorder from all major retailers.

Stay tuned for more news…


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My schedule at Philcon 2018: November 16-18, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ

I will be attending Philcon 2018, where I am appearing on a number of panels and doing a reading from my upcoming novel, SHADOWBLADE (Saturday at 2 pm).

Right after that I will be at the autograph table (Saturday from 3 to 4). Please stop by for some freebies and a friendly conversation!

Here is my full schedule:

Friday, November 16:

FANTASY WITHOUT FANTASY?: 8:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour) (3060)

[Panelists: Jim Stratton (mod), Ken Altabef, Sally Wiener Grotta, Carl Paolino, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Anna Kashina]

How much actual supernaturalism or other fantastic elements (dragons, magic, elves, etc.) does a fantasy story require? There are examples of books marketed as fantasy, set in imaginary places, that contain no fantastic elements- How do they function within the genre

Saturday, November 17: 


[Panelists: Jazz Hiestand (mod), Anna Kashina, Nicholas MacDonald-Martell, Dr. Valerie J. Mikles, John Monahan]

What effect would having two moons do to the oceans of your world? How do the orbital paths of your planets affect the transit times between them? What factors should you take into account when constructing *your* ideal star system

THE DEPICTIONS OF TECHNOLOGY IN STAR WARS AND STAR TREK: 12:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)  (3108)

[Panelists: Jeff Warner (mod), John Ashmead, Inge Heyer, Jay Wile, Anna Kashina, Glenn Hauman]

How do these universes differ in the ways they depict their tech? How did the history of each world affect the invention and uses of medical devices, weaponry, methods of transportation, and robotic beings

READING: SHADOWBLADE: Sat 2:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)  (3335)

[Panelists: Brandon Budda (mod), Anna Kashina]

Autograph Table Sat 3:00 PM(1 hour) (3350)

[Panelists: Inge Heyer (mod), Anna Kashina]


[Panelists: Robert C. Roman (mod), Dr. Valerie J. Mikles, Anna Kashina, Alana Phelan, Kevin Patterson, Linda J. Lee]

Our notions about romance, sex, and marriage are evolving to keep pace with a world that continues to gain a more nuanced understanding of gender identity, the spectrum of human sexuality, and what a family is. Does your writing reflect an inclusive future, or one where the standards of 1950’s America have remained the norm

Sunday, November 18:

Synthetic biology aims to create organisms that maintain and propagate themselves while producing a desired outcome, whether that is flowers that glow in the dark, cells that produce rare drugs, or architectural organisms that serve as living homes. From do-it-yourself biologists to biohackers to the International Genetically Engineered Machine, people are already bringing synthetic biology to life. We  will discuss technologies that are available now, illustrative examples, and possible dangers of synthetic life.

THE MYTH OF THE MAD SCIENTIST: Sun 1:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour) (3078)

[Panelists: Jim Stratton (mod), John Ashmead, Aaron Feldman, Anna Kashina, Alan P. Smale]

Despite a long history in fiction of solo geniuses making the ultimate breakthroughs in their basement labs, collaboration is necessary for scientific advancement. So why do we glorify the loner scientist trope? Can we make collaborative science feel equally heroic? How do we portray science being done realistically while still meeting the needs of the story


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Publication announcement: SHADOWBLADE!!!

Today I am so thrilled to share the big news: my newest novel, SHADOWBLADE, will be published by Angry Robot Books in May 2019! This book features a lot of my favorite themes, including elite blademasters, a kick-ass heroine, imperial politics — and of course, romance!

To commemorate this announcement, Fantasy Faction has published this wonderful post, with more details, as well as my very own toast to fantasy romance:

It is so exciting to be at liberty to talk about it now — and of course, I can’t wait for more exciting news to come!

Stay tuned…

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Join my newsletter

My recent resolution is to send out regular newsletters to my readers, and anyone else who is interested in updates about my writing. Those who sign up (and probably others as well) are bound to hear some exciting news soon!

And, each newsletter will come with a lovingly crafted recipe, featuring favorite foods from my fantasy worlds…

And yes, if any authors or fans out there are interested in swapping newsletter posts featuring each other’s publication news, please drop me a line on the “contact” page!

To subscribe, follow the “subscribe to my newsletter” tag in my blog’s header, or simply follow this link:

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I have a new agent!

I am super excited to announce that I have just signed up with a new agent, Jennie Goloboy, from Donald Maass Literary Agency.

I am thrilled to be working with Jennie — who is not only a great agent, but such a good match as a work partner and a person to go to for professional advice. We have a lot in common in our backgrounds, which makes it all even more perfect! I really look forward to all the good things to come!

The very next item on our list is my brand new adventure fantasy, featuring empires, assassins, and, of course, romance… Stay tuned for more news, hopefully soon!!

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