A couple of years ago, Patty Jansen was told by a very large publisher: "This book is well-written and well-plotted, but no one will publish this". The manuscript in question was book 1 in the Ambassador series, and to say that Patty was a little taken aback and shaken is an understatement.
But, against conventional wisdom, she kept writing similar stories, and had some success in the short story market. She won the Writers of the Future contest and took part in the amazing workshop in LA, hobnobbing with big-name writers like Kevin Anderson, Larry Niven and Greg Benford. She sold some stories to Analog. But she prefers to write novels.
She was getting good industry responses to the Icefire trilogy when the GFC hit, and the publishing industry crawled into a hole. She would like to tell the agents who still have the manuscript from back then that it has been published, so they can remove it from their desks.
Patty didn't set out to become a vocal supporter for self-publishing. In real life, she is not a very controversial person, trained as scientist. She loves writing science bits into novels, whether the genre is science fiction or fantasy.
When she was told by yet another publisher not to bother submitting hard science fiction because she is a woman, she finally decided that maybe the publishing industry was not for her.
She might be stubborn, but she believes that people should allowed to be themselves:
- Women should be able to write science fiction (high-tech and space opera, no naked torsos), even though 95% of the bestseller lists in those genres are male.
- They should do so under their own name.
- Writers should write in their local type of English, and not be "required" to make all their spelling and idioms US-centric.
- Writers have the right not to be held to ransom by publishers who take their manuscripts and then take years to make a decision, or grabbing rights (like movie rights, creative rights) which they are not going to use.
With this in mind, Patty, who lives in Australia, writes science fiction and fantasy about people who also believe in those things, or fight for those things.
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Patty is on Twitter (@pattyjansen), Facebook, LinkedIn, goodreads, LibraryThing, google+ and blogs at: http://pattyjansen.com/
on July 13, 2013 :
Jessica is returning home when her plane crashes and she is thrown into an alternate universe. She is rescued but is not sure who to trust. She had been communicating with a man through her mind but will not let others know for fear that they will think she is crazy. She has been able to read people’s minds and emotions growing up so she knew she was different. Now she must decide whether to reach out to this man in her mind or place her trust in another survivor of the plane crash in Patty Jansen’s, WATCHER’S WEB, book 1 of her RETURN OF THE AGHYRIANS series. Where is she? Who can she trust? Can she come back to earth?
Patty Jansen does a good job with her world building. We learn the rules and history on a need-to-know basis along with Jessica. She is 17-years old. She knows what it is like to be an outsider. She works to learn the customs and language but it is not easy. She feels she is responsible for the accident but has no one to help her through her guilt. She is around an alien people and cultural. When she once again meets the other survivor, Brian, she knows he is hiding something but she cannot figure out what it is. As Jessica learns who to trust and who not to trust, she has been in communication with a man, Daya. She has been able to connect with him through her mind. Now they will meet but Brian, also known as Iztho in this world, has sown seeds of mistrust so she does not know who to believe has her best interests at heart. It does not help that both men use sex as a way to control her.
As Jessica struggles to survive in this world and make it back to her own world she learns to control the special gift she has. She also learns that she has a history that may connect her to the people in this world. Jessica has to decide if she wants to stay or go.
I could not tell if the story was it supposed to be for YA or adults. Sometimes it was more YA and other times it was adult. I would say this story is for 16 and up.
I like the characters. The story kept me interested so that I want to know what Jessica’s future holds. Does she stay or does she go? At times the pacing of the story was slow, especially at the beginning. By the end there is a lot of action and adventure that kept me involved and wanting more. There are questions I want answered so I will be reading book 2 to find out what happens.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on June 11, 2011 :
The first thing that I noticed about this book, and really appreciated, was the strong Australian voice of the character. It’s been awhile since I have read anything that is set, even just initially, in a country other than America or an American copy. So it was refreshing, and enjoyable to see an Australian author making the most of their country of origin.
Jessica very quickly gets uprooted, and the reader gets to experience a whole new world through her eyes. She is thrown into the middle of things she struggles to understand and Jansen does a stellar job of getting the reader caught up in this.
I have to say that this is the first book I’ve read in awhile that has aliens who actually seem alien. Sci-fi in general is peppered with species and races which are all too human – and I can understand that, on some levels. Writers want to make sure that the readers can relate to the characters in their book – but aliens should be different to us. Jessica gets to explore this, to learn more about these alien creatures, and herself in the process. Jansen has done a fantastic job of creating a world that is alien, and yet still approachable for the reader.
The story line is evenly paced and while we try, along with Jessica, to grasp at all the strands, Jansen brings it all together with verve. Jessica manages to stay true to herself, while also letting the barriers slide so that she can interact with those around her. There is a lot of action, and excitement, and I loved watching the development of Jessica throughout, as she begins to open up to others and connect with the world around her, which also means she gets to grips with her strange talent and mysterious history.
If I had one gripe, it would be with the way the romantic subplots were tied up. Where Jessica felt like a strong character who always followed her own mind in the rest of the novel, she seemed less in charge when it came to love, and the resolution felt more like her accepting the hand that life had dealt her, rather than a choice about what she really wanted. That said, it was clear throughout the novel that Jessica was something of a novice when it came to relationships of any kind, so perhaps her actions are fitting.
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. It was refreshing and vibrant. I love the cultures and characters that Jansen has created; it felt like there was a lot of depth to them, a richness which helped bring the story to life. I’d recommend this book to just about anyone, but in particular to writers who want a great example of how to create rich cultures/worlds, without drowning the reader in too much information. I’ll be checking out Patty’s next release, as I am sure that will be a good one too!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)