2019 hasn’t even begun yet, but already I’ve got some appearances lined up.
First off, on Friday February 1st, Marlee Jane Ward, Angela Meyer, and myself will be doing readings at Brunswick Bound as part of their First Chapters series of events. Ours is the first event of the year, with a definite sci-fi bent – if you’re in or around Melbourne and want to see us in the flesh and hear what we sound like, come along – 361 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Friday 1st of Feb, starts at 7pm.
And I’ll be doing Supanova again! I’ll be at Melbourne Supanova on April 5-7, and Gold Coast Supanova on April 12-14. These are the only Supanova shows I’m planning to do in 2019 (that could change, but I doubt it), so apologies to folks in other cities. This time around, I’ll be joined at the author table by Australia’s prince of horror, Alan Baxter, the prolific YA fantasy scribe, Lynette Noni, and fantasy author Jodi McAlister, with more names to be announced.
Anyway, I hope that whatever holiday you celebrate around this time of year, you had a fantastic time. 2018 has been a rough one inside this skull of mine. But I survived, and so did you. I’m not going to lie to you – things are going to get tougher and weirder for a while yet. Stay strong. Remember your friends and loved ones are there for you, and remember to be there for them. We only have each other.
I’ve posted a ‘Sound of’ post for both Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow, detailing the music (or, for Void Black Shadow, audio performance) that inspired each book, but this time around, I wanted to do something a little different.
If you want to know what the inside of my head sounded like while I was writing Static Ruin, you only need to listen to Young Widow’s full discography, starting with Old Wounds, then onto In and Out of Youth and Lightness, and then finally to Easy Pain, listening to the full album from start to finish. Also add a heavy dose of MY DISCO’s album Severe, though I did have to put this one aside any time I was writing an action scene.
But, as I neared the end of the book, I knew I needed to do something a little different.
I always listen to complete albums, from start to finish, without skipping any tracks. This is why I can’t listen to an album for an extended period of time if there’s even one track on it that I actively dislike. I could remove that track from the playlist, but I don’t see that as a viable choice. The way I see it, an album is like a book, and you would never tear a chapter out of a book.
Anyway, when we’re talking about individual songs, I find that I tend to really latch on to final tracks – usually melancholic, sometimes outright depressing, sometimes uplifting – endings so strong they make you want to start the album again right from the beginning. So, I thought, why not put together a playlist of these final tracks, to set the tone as I was writing the final chapters of the final book in the VoidWitch Saga? And that is what I have here for you now – a playlist entitled Endings. That is the spotify link, but the full list is below. Each one of these songs is from an absolute favourite album of mine, and I recommend listening to the full album if any song takes your fancy. Bandcamp links are included where available.
Russian Circles – Memorial feat. Chelsea Wolfe (from Memorial)
Tom Waits – Blue Valentines (from Blue Valentine)
Fiona Apple – I Know (from When the Pawn […])
Autolux – Capital Kind Of Strain (from Future Perfect)
Liars – The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack (from Drum’s Not Dead)
The playlist always had to open with Briggs – the final song off the final album of one of my all-time favourite bands, and (for those playing at home) the place where I took the name for the villain from Killing Gravity. And it was always going to end with The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack. I can’t listen to this song without crying, and I’m not even sure why anymore, but I know I want it played at my funeral. For the purposes of Static Ruin, think of it as Mars & Squid’s song.
Today sees the release of Static Ruin, the third and final book of the VoidWitch Saga. You can order it from your favourite bookseller now, or wait a couple of months for the audio release. I recently did an interview with Paul Semel about Static Ruin, Repo Virtual, and other odds and ends, so check that out.
It’s been a long journey getting to this point. On this date three years ago I was working away at the first draft of Killing Gravity, confident that I had something great on my hands, but never really thinking that it would be the thing to kick-start my writing career. I’ll always be grateful to my editor Carl Engle-Laird for taking a chance on KG and on me, and I’m so thankful to Carl and the rest of the Tor.com Publishing team for supporting me across three novellas. And a big thank you to Martha Millard for helping to guide me along the early career path (I hope you enjoy your retirement!).
The seed for Static Ruin was planted within the pages of Killing Gravity, and now with the third book, Mars comes full circle, finally facing her past and the spectre of her father. Killing Gravity was quite a personal book in some ways, whereas Void Black Shadow was more political. Static Ruin returns to the personal, dealing with questions of family, expectation, disappointment, pain, and all the rest. It’s about parents, yes, but there’s a reason why I dedicated the book to my two sisters. Our parents can damage us in ways that they never intend, in ways that we can’t truly grasp until decades later. This doesn’t make them bad parents, it just makes them fallible, human. But for those of us who have siblings that we grew up with, they’re right there beside us – they’re hurt with us and sometimes by us, and they can hurt us too. But there’s a connection there that’s different to the ones we share with our parents. They’re our allies and enemies, our co-conspirators and occasional snitches, they’re distant, but never far from our hearts. They’re part of the memories that form the very foundation of our selves, and we have the privilege of growing up alongside them, watching them mature into adulthood with all the joys and pains that can bring.
All of this is just to say: Carlie, Jessica, I love you both, and you’re stronger and braver than I will ever be.
This is something I’ve been keeping quiet for a little while, but now that it’s up on the Recorded Books website, I think I can announce it… the full VoidWitch Saga is getting the audio book treatment – released by Recorded Books with narration from Saskia Maarleveld.
Each book will be available in CD Audio and eAudio format, and will be on Audible, because Audible is like a tree falling in a forest – if it’s not available on Audible will anyone hear it fall?
Killing Gravity is (apparently) out now in eAudio format, and the CD version is slated for release on December 1st, 2018. Void Black Shadow is slated for release on December 1st, 2018, and Static Ruin will follow in March, 2019.
(And no, I don’t know why they didn’t licence Tommy Arnold’s art again, but I kinda wish they had… No offense to the artist who did the Recorded Books art [I actually really like the colours they used for the VBS art], but Tommy’s work is phenomenal.)
Anyone who’s been paying attention to publishing over the past few years will realise that audio books are huge – because whilst it can be hard to find time to sit down with a book, a lot of people want to listen to books while driving, commuting, exercising, etc. So I’m really excited that a whole bunch of people that have never even heard of me and my books will have a chance to discover them fresh! And with far less waiting time between entries…
I’ve been quietly tinkering in the background on a new project with my good friend Austin (who is one part of the nothing here team). This project is a book and apparel company called Oh Nothing Press. Our plan for ONP is to create new and weird cultural artifacts, killer t-shirts, and narrative worlds you can lose yourself in.
The first of these worlds is MECHADEATH – a story of Occult Mecha Warfare on a Cosmic Scale. Think ‘black metal mecha anime’ in text and t-shirt form. You can download the zine free here. The concept sprung forth from Austin’s mind, the story bled out of my fingertips, and the stunning layout & design is done by the group Trash.Been. Honestly, check out the zine and tell me that design isn’t next-level.
We’re also selling t-shirts at the site. For a launch week special, you can use the coupon code MECHA30 at checkout to save 30% off. Coupon code expires on the 15th of October, but we plan on pushing coupons regularly for people who follow us on twitter and instagram, or just poke around the hidden recesses of the site. For a better look at the shirt designs and links to the artists, just click on the shirts. Austin hand-picked these artists to help bring the concept to life, and they all did something unique to their own style and true to the weird MechaDeath beast.
I’m excited to announce that I’ll have a short story in the upcoming anthology A Punk Rock Future, from Zsenon Publishing. There’s a kickstarter for the book, with rewards including ebooks and paperbacks (obviously), as well as music from some of the authors in the anthology, a story critique from Erica Satifka, and a bunch more.
The anthology includes stories from Erica L. Satifka, Sarah Pinsker, Spencer Ellsworth, Margaret Killjoy, Izzy Wasserstein, Stewart C Baker, Michael Harris Cohen, Maria Haskins, Kurt Pankau, Zandra Renwick, Marie Vibbert, P.A. Cornell, Jennifer Lee Rossman, M. Lopes da Silva, R. K. Duncan, Steven Assarian, Dawn Vogel, Matt Bechtel, Josh Rountree, and Vaughan Stanger.
And, if the kickstarter campaign hits its stretch goals, there’ll be another open submissions period for some additional flash stories.
NB: I have no involvement in the kickstarter, whatsoever. I’m just mentioning it because I love everything about this anthology and want the kickstarter campaign to be a success.
My story is about a lot of things, but mostly it’s about how punk-rock is for everyone who wants it, everyone who finds it and feels like they’ve found some missing piece of themselves. It’s also a ‘fuck you’ to anyone who believes otherwise, anyone who tries to act as a gatekeeper.
I don’t know what kind of person I would be today if I never found punk, but it had a profound effect on me in my teenage years. The world-weary humour of NOFX, the saccharine love songs of The Ataris, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Blink 182 and The Offspring (hey, it was 1999 and everybody loved them), anarchy, DIY, compilation discs. It was Punk-O-Rama Vol. 4 that introduced me to Tom Waits. The same compilation introduced me to Refused and The Shape of Punk to Come, my first real taste of anti-capitalist sentiment, and an incredible album that still sounds as cutting-edge today as it did 20 years ago. That album set me down a path of vibrant, complex post-hardcore that still defines a big chunk of my listening today.
If I hadn’t found Refused I wouldn’t have ‘got’ These Arms Are Snakes. If I didn’t listen to These Arms Are Snakes I wouldn’t have written Killing Gravity. I can trace who I am and what I am today right back to punk-rock. That’s why I’m excited about this anthology.
Tattoos are weird, for any number of reasons. For one thing, most black inks are made from bone charcoal, meaning you’re literally trapping dead animals beneath your skin for aesthetic reasons. For another, even though you (maybe) spent a lot of time considering your tattoo, and even though you went through a lot of pain to get it done, once the tattoo is healed, it’s really easy to forget it’s there.
Which is why I was reminded of one of my own tattoos when I listened to the most recent episode of The Allusionist. If you’re not already aware, The Allusionist is a podcast about language, usually looking at strange and interesting uses of language, the history of words, as well as detailing people’s personal stories about words and their uses. Basically, if you’re a word-nerd you’ll probably enjoy it.
Episode 85 is about Shelley Jackson’s Skin Project, in which Jackson put out a call to find people who would be willing to get a word tattooed on their body. The words came from a story she had written, and the only way to read the story is to get a part of it tattooed on your body (I have a copy of it buried deep in a box of old stuff). There’s more to it than that, but all the main points are covered in the podcast. Either go listen, or see the guidelines and FAQ at Shelley Jackson’s website.
I heard about the project in an Experimental Fictions class at Griffith University. Inez Baranay was running the class, and she told us about the project because it was nothing if not an example of experimental fiction. I was intrigued. At that point I had 2 or 3 tattoos already, and absolutely loved the idea of taking part. How many people could say they were involved in something so strange? How many people would have a story like that for when people asked them about their tattoo? (Well, 2,095, as it turns out).
I reached out to Shelley Jackson, went through the various steps required, and went and got my word tattooed on my wrist. When I showed it to Inez, she was kind of freaked out, from memory. When she told us about the project, she apparently didn’t think any of her students were going to go out and actually get tattooed.
Part of the process of having a word assigned to you is that you don’t have any say over the word that you’re given. Once you receive your word, you can elect not to have it tattooed on you, but you can’t apply for a different word. While I was waiting for the word, I thought that if I didn’t like it, I could simply get it tattooed somewhere that no one would see it, but if I did like it, I always planned to have it placed on my wrist.
The word I received: paper.”
Still now I can hardly believe it. I was studying creative writing at the time, and all I wanted was to be a writer, and the word I received through sheer chance is paper.”
It seemed like an omen then, and honestly, looking back, it still feels like one. Maybe moreso, now that I’m here at this early but very exciting stage of my career as an author.
Tattoos are weird, for any number of reasons. Sometimes they seem like magic.
It’s a special pleasure to guide an author through multiple stages of their early career. Since I acquired Corey J. White’s first novella, Killing Gravity, I’ve had the joy of watching his craft develop from book to book. In November he’ll complete his Voidwitch Saga trilogy with Static Ruin, capping off the story of Mariam Xi, one of the most interesting and dangerous characters in space. And now I have the honor of announcing that Tor.com Publishing has acquired Corey J. White’s debut novel, Repo Virtual, a cyberpunk heist story that layers action across real and virtual realities in the hunt for the first true strong AI. Repo Virtual was acquired in a deal negotiated by Martha Millard of Sterling Lord Literistic.
And here’s my comment:
I’m so excited to be working again with Carl Engle-Laird and the rest of the team at Tor.com Publishing on my debut novel. They were a joy to work with on the Voidwitch books, and I’m thrilled to be taking this next journey with them. Repo Virtual will be a fully 21st Century take on cyberpunk, showing the environmental and sociopolitical repercussions of the rampant corporations that cyberpunk warned us about, and perhaps helped to normalise.
Needless to say, I’m really excited to be working on my debut novel. It’s totally different to working on a novella (or even three novellas), but I think I’ve got something special here. I can’t wait to share it with you all.
I had a strange realisation today. Realisations are odd, because they generally seem obvious outside the moment/context/head of the realiser (Head of the Realiser is the name of a cult leader if I ever heard one).
I was idly thinking that in another 10 or 20 years when I have enough clout, I’d love to edit a short story anthology. And from that initial thought I had aforementioned realisation: I am exactly where I want to be. And fuck me, but that’s a blessing. Despite the stresses of writing, and just living the late-capitalism lifestyle, that is huge.
I mean, obviously I’m not “done”. There is still so much more for me to do, but I’m officially there on the ground floor of The Life I Always Wanted. The next bit is building a readership and honing my craft. There will be a million other things I have to do along the way, but as long as I’m improving as a writer and reaching an audience, the rest will work itself out. Oh, and connecting with other writers, because there are 2 things every writer loves to talk about – the process and books. And honestly, talking about books is one of my absolute favourite things to do.
And honestly, this fairly positive realisation probably only came about because of that other recent one – that I’ve been pushing myself too hard, and not enjoying the journey. So, maybe that means I’m successfully changing my mindset? I hope so, because it’s been pretty fucking rough in here lately.