Can you believe we’re in November already? The race is onto Christmas, and if you’re a writer, then you might even be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Last week I brought you the insights of Drako, an author who fills his world with beautiful dragons. This week we turn to Patty Jansen, a science fiction and fantasy author who has a back-catalogue to keep you going for months!
Tell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?
When I’m not writing, I sell non-fiction books online.
Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.
Coffee & chips in my office and my own chair. If not, out on the back veranda where I can sit in the nuddy (not that I ever do) and no one would see. From up there, the only thing I can see is trees!
You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration? Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?
Actually, my inspiration has been my job. I worked as a research scientist and often wondered about taking the science (nonsensical or real) into the realm of the impossible. My favourite writer is C.J. Cherryh, my favourite movie is Independence Day and I don’t watch TV. I’m baaaaad at pop culture.
Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?
I absolutely adore C.J. Cherryh, and my all-time favourite character is Banichi from the Foreigner series. Yes, he’s an alien, but he’s awesome.
Who’s your favourite character in your own work?
I have a favourite character in every book. In my current WIP (Shifting Reality, currently serialised on my blog by way of ARC), my favourite character is Ari Suleiman Rudiyanto. Yes, he’s Indonesian (the name kinda gives it away), and he’s gay, and does dubious things in a space station. He’s also very smart, and because he’s bored, he does the most stupid things, like tinkering with important technology and smuggling stuff.
Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?
I’d love to be able to live a very long time, like some of my characters.
Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?
Oh yes. I sold a novel to a small press (Ambassador, coming out in 2013), and this book started in a very strange way. Usually, inspiration for a novel will come as a scene where two characters are talking to each other. I’d always wanted to do something thriller-y and political, and I had this idea of a character going on a major mission (the character is Cory Wilson, who as kid is the main character of my kids novel The Far Horizon). Cory was talking to this important person about a job he was about to do. I made a note of this scene, intending to file it for later. The scene was really boring, full of backstory and setting. These scenes never survive in the final product.
Anyway, the scene was so boring that my brain subconsciously decided to make it more interesting: it threw a bomb into the window of the office where the meeting was taking place. I spent the next four drafts finding out who did it.
Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?
Oh no, I am a pantser extra-ordinaire. In fact, I’m a pantser to my own detriment. Plotting bores me to death, although I’ll probably have to do a lot more of it if I want to be more efficient.
What’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?
I write three distinct genres:
My space-based SF is hard SF. Lookie, see! I’m a woman writing hard SF. I’m trying to prove that science geekery and character development are not mutually exclusive.
My space opera is unique in that it contains aliens, and it contains Earth in a way we can recognise it, in other words, not that far into the future. In my space opera world, alienoid humans came to Earth in 1968, and lived as humans amongst us. They came, not to the US, not the UK, or not South Africa, but to Athens, Greece. It’s kinda funny how I wrote all of my novel Ambassador before the current crisis, and it’s almost as if that book was prophetic. It’s scary.
My fantasy is weird. It’s not medieval, it’s not urban fantasy, there are some science elements. My trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic world where something that sounds suspiciously like radio-activity doubles as magic. Some people can use it, many die from exposure. I did a fair bit of reading on radiation poisoning for this one. One of the countries has steam power and uses telegraphs and balloons. Not the standard fantasy fair.
What are you working on now?
My hard SF novel Shifting Reality is almost finished.
A few years ago, a military doctor walking the corridors of New Jakarta Station saved Melati’s life. She signed up for the International Space Force to pay back her moral debt to him. But her family thinks she has betrayed her people. It was ISF who forcefully removed their grandmothers and grandfathers from the crowded slums of Jakarta to work in interstellar space stations.
It is Melati’s job to teach six-year old construct soldiers, artificial humans grown in labs and activated with programmed minds. Her latest cohort has one student who claims that he is not a little boy, but a mindbase traveller whose swap partner took off with his body. It soon becomes clear that a lot of people are scouring the station for this man, a scientist with dangerous knowledge.
What would be a better place to hide a fugitive than in the seething mass of traditional and modern cultures and subcultures in New Jakarta’s B-sector? Problem is, Melati’s family, and especially her cousins Rina and Ari, are involved in a scheme to sell the scientist in return for greater political power for the workers so that those who wish can return to Indonesia. Never mind that if the scientist’s knowledge falls into the wrong hands, none of them will live to exercise that right.
After this, I will be writing the sequel to Watcher’s Web, after which I may write a quasi-historical fantasy based on the Dutch VOC, in which the Chinese come to a city that sounds suspiciously like 17th century Amsterdam in steam ships. Watch 17th century Europe & their squabbling royalty fight over steam power and cosying up to the Chinese! Yeah, I love torturing history. MWAHAHAHAHA!
How can readers connect with you?
I’d love everyone to follow my blog Must Use Bigger Elephants. I also have a website: http://pattyjansen.com, and am on Facebook and Twitter.
If you’d like to find out more about Patty’s extensive range of books, please see her Amazon author page. Enjoy!