Supanova is billed as a pop-culture convention, and features guests from film, TV, anime, and comics, so it’s great that they’ve also been supporting authors of science fiction and fantasy – both local and international. Also with me at the author desk will be my partner Marlee Jane Ward, author of the brilliant Welcome to Orphancorp and Psynode – so come along and say hi to Australia’s Science Fiction Novella Power Couple (TM).
If I’ve been a little quiet lately, that’s because I’ve been focused on completing a novel. I set myself a goal of finishing it in 3 months, and then beat myself up when I lost most of July to various things like illness and a convention (and convention-related anxiety). Still, I know I should cut myself some slack – I completed a 90k word novel in under 4 months, and that’s pretty fucking berserker.
(As I said on twitter, the book is entirely stand-alone, but I had to make that Bojack Horseman joke.)
There’s no rest for the wicked though, oh no. I’ve got a couple of weeks of time to edit the manuscript and get it to my three usual (trusted, brilliant, intelligent, and dangerously-attractive) beta readers, maybe a little time to relax, and then it’s on to Killing Gravity 3: Kill Gravity with a Vengeance. Oh, did I forget to tell you? Well, guess what? Tor.com Publishing have commissioned a third and final book in the VoidWitch Saga!
This is incredibly exciting – not just because of the support this first-time author is receiving from his publisher, and not just because I have an awesome agent who went to bat for me on this, but because I always kind of envisioned Killing Gravity as the first novella in a trilogy. The original Star Wars trilogy is always going to loom large in my mind because it got in there at such a young age, and now I have the chance to do my own space opera trilogy and get it out there in the wild.
Oh shit, I just thought of a title for KG3 – Return of the VoidWitch. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Also, at that link above you’ll see they sneakily announced the title of KG2 – Void Black Shadow. The book gets as dark as that title may suggest… But I’ll be able to share more about that soon.
I mentioned Ecopunk! previously, but it’s an anthology of stories that look at our climate change affected future (and present), but with an eye toward optimism and innovation, rather than the dystopian visions that seem to clutter popular culture. Right now, Ticonderoga Press are running a Kickstarter for Ecopunk!, which is a perfect chance for you to pre-order an ebook, paperback, or a limited hardcover edition of the anthology.
Ecopunk! is edited by Liz Grzyb and Cat Sparks, and features a selection of amazing authors (and me). Liz is the award-winning editor of multiple anthologies, and Cat is one of the central figures of Australia’s spec-fic scene, so you know you’re in good hands here.
Check out the kickstarter campaign here.
Two exciting things have happened recently, one of which I’d been meaning to post about for a while.
First, I signed with literary agent Martha Millard at Sterling Lord Literistic, based in NYC. Martha reached out to me after reading Killing Gravity, was super enthusiastic, and had some great advice for me in regards to turning this little book of mine into an actual writing career. Martha’s been in the business for a long time, and represents some big names in science fiction, like William Gibson and Ian McDonald. If you’d told teenage-me with his nose buried in Neuromancer that I’d one day share an agent with Gibson, I would not have believed you.
The second thing is that Warren Ellis was kind enough to find time in his consistently-crazy work schedule to write up a couple of paragraphs about Killing Gravity in his Orbital Operations newsletter.
I’ve been a fan of Warren Ellis’ comics, prose, and newsletters for a long time now, so this means the world to me. (And if you think ‘being a fan’ of a newsletter is a bit weird, you’ve obviously never subscribed to one of Warren’s. You’ll get everything from political, sociopolitical, and technological commentary, to recipes, to ‘reviews’ of books and films, music recommendations, the occasional blistering rant, and gems of writing advice. I’d say his insights into the writing process are invaluable for any writer, but particularly for anyone with aspirations to write in the comics field.)
Now, if you’ve somehow discovered my work before Warren’s, then let me make some recommendations. As far as prose goes, Normal is fantastic. It’s a 2016 novella put out by FSG, and it’s Warren at his abyss-gazingly best: hints of William Gibson’s Blue Ant trilogy and Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (to me at least), with characters that could only have emerged from Ellis’ mind, and a sort of technological paranoia/perversion that seems a perfect response to the surveillance capialism of today.
For a look at the sort of ‘thinking out loud’ you get in Warren’s newsletters, you can’t go past Do Anything, which I could try and describe, but would probably fail – so instead, click here.
And in the comics realm, there is so much to choose from. Some personal favourites though:
- Black Summer – a superhero decides the President of the United States is a war criminal beyond redemption who needs to be killed. But that’s not the arc of the comic, that’s the opening few pages. Was written as a response to George W. Bush deceiving the Western world into a fucked up war in Iraq, but will probably still appeal to people today who like the idea of POTUS being slain.
- Desolation Jones – Ellis’ take on the classic ‘noir detective in LA’ genre, but where the detective is a former British spy who lost all fear and human empathy after being subjected to a particularly fucked up experiment, and who is on the trail of Hitler’s personal porn stash.
- Global Frequency – a fantastic series of connected sci-fi one-offs. A TV pilot was filmed, and it’s criminal that it was never picked up – it had the potential to be something akin to Person of Interest meets Fringe.
- Trees & Injection are two newer series, that have a couple of volumes each so far and are shaping up to be some of the best SF comics of the 2010s.
- And if you’re more of a superhero person, Ellis’ runs on Stormwatch, Authority, and Planetary are some of the best super stuff you’re going to find.
So yeah, exciting times. But that’s enough for now. I’ve got a book to write and another book to edit. Take care of yourself, and those closest to you.
This long weekend, Australia’s Natcon is happening in Melbourne – Continuum 13. As well as Guests of Honour Seanan McGuire and Likhain, and authors and fans from all over the country, you’ll also be able to find me at the con. I’m going to be doing a reading on Sunday morning, I’ll be on a couple of panels, and I’ll be happy to sign any copies of Killing Gravity that come into my hands.
So, if you’re going to be there, please say hi. Don’t be shy, that’s my job.
When Spec Fic Becomes Reality
Rachel Nightingale, Emma Osborne, Cat Sparks, Corey J. White, Ju
Science fiction has been known to predict the future, for instance Octavia Butler wrote about a zealot who promised to “make America great again” in Parable of Talents, and Synners by Pat Cadigan is so relevant today. We’re chatting about books that are far less fictional now than they were when written.
Kathryn Andersen, Robert New, Emma Osborne, Corey J. White, Nuke
The classic 1973 Hugo and Nebula nominated movie has been turned into a stunning HBO series. What was great about the original, what’s changed and been modernised for the series and is this our future?
I’ll be doing a reading, along with JS Bruekelaar and Michael Pryor.
Communicating with Other Life Forms: Starting with Life on Earth
Never mind the aliens. Dolphins might have near-human intelligence, and octopi can use tools. How close are we to communication with animals, and how would society change if we achieved that? (Bonus points to any prospective panelists who can talk about seaQuest!)
Recently I was interviewed by Alasdair Stuart over at Tor.com. Alasdair is behind Escape Artists (the family of SFFH podcasts which includes Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders), and the magazine Mothership Zeta… in other words, he knows his science fiction well. This comes across in the interview, with Alasdair asking a number of great, in-depth questions that gave me a chance to delve into a lot of the stuff that was going on in the background while I was writing Killing Gravity.
AS: What sort of aesthetic do these books have in your head? Is everything high tech and advanced, or we talking crunchy switches and Logan’s Run? I get a little of everything.
CJW: It’s definitely varied within the world, depending on a character’s personal preference, the level of tech they can afford, and environmental factors. I kind of think of it in terms of mobile phones—back in the day I could walk down the street, tapping out a text message on physical buttons without looking at the screen and the message would come out perfect, but if you try the same thing today with a smart phone, you either end up with a gibberish message, or you end up walking into someone/something. So as much as people want the Minority Report-style holographic interface, for certain people and/or at certain times, you need physicality. After all, in Minority Report, the fancy display is useless without the wooden balls laser-etched with premonitions.
Read the whole thing here.
I got to write about space-bound felines over at Tor.com, and as you can probably tell I had a lot of fun putting it together.
With the release of Killing Gravity (oh, yeah, that came out this week), I’ve had some new interviews come out.
First off, I was interviewed on the Start Writing podcast, which focuses on the craft of writing and other questions about marketing, publishing, and selling books both in traditional publishing and indie publishing. Check out the interview here. (NB: I took cold & flu tablets to try and minimise on audible sniffles, and kind of underestimated how jacked up I’d be between the meds and nerves… so if I talk WAY too fast, you know why.)
I was also interviewed by Paul Semel, largely about the influences that went into Killing Gravity and what’s in store for the future. Check that out here.
Also, here’s a thing that happened – my box of complimentary copies of Killing Gravity arrived (just in time to be boxed up with the rest of my books for my house move. Yes, it’s been a busy goddamn week.)
Ticonderoga Press just announced the Table of Contents for their upcoming Ecopunk! Anthology, including a whole range of fantastic authors, including Jane Rawson, Jason Nahrung, Rivqa Rafael, and… me.
Have you read any of Steve Aylett’s books? Have you even heard of the man? Possibly not, so let me evangelise at you about Steve Aylett’s Beerlight books. Over at Tor.com, I give a run down of each of the Beerlight books, providing some choice quotes, and detailing some of the great science fiction ideas in the books.