VoidWitch Audio Books

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.

Killing Gravity Audio Cover

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…

Good Enough

I have a problem. Marlee says I’m addicted to workahol, but that’s not it. I work hard because I’m driven, but I’m driven because nothing is good enough. Therein lies the problem.

Smarter people than I have written about the many problems of social media [citation needed], but the problem for me is that I find myself comparing my work/career/success to the gestalt of Writer Twitter. They are constantly being nominated for awards. They are constantly winning awards. They constantly appear on bestseller lists. They constantly get starred reviews, and film/TV deals, and a million other opportunities. In short, whatever successes ‘They’ have, my sick, broken brain sees only in terms of what I don’t have.

This is ridiculous. This is unhelpful. This is incredibly damaging to my mental health. This is also utter bullshit. On the one hand, how fucking entitled is my subconscious being? And on the other hand, I’m comparing my singular self to a group of writers, including some who have been at it for years, or even decades.

Now, beyond the entitlement and the unfair comparisons (which are two entirely different brands of bullshit), the other side effect here is that I do not enjoy the (objectively many) successes I have had. I want to blame Australia’s tall poppy syndrome (and, let’s be honest, my depression), because I find it impossible to celebrate any of my successes for fear of being seen as a conceited arsehole. But, that’s only half of it. I also can’t celebrate because nothing is good enough. I celebrated signing the contracts for Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow, but everything since then has been…I don’t know. Good, but not good enough, I guess.

So, I’m going to do something difficult, and I’m going to celebrate my successes in an effort to rewire my broken brain. Please don’t think I’m a conceited arsehole, because this is actually entirely unnatural for me. Here goes…

  • I have a trilogy of novellas with an incredible imprint attached to one of the biggest SF publishers in the world. Seriously, Tor.com Publishing is putting out some of my favourite books right now, and they also chose to publish me. Multiple times.
  • Over five thousand people have parted with their hard-earned money for a copy of Killing Gravity. Some of them even liked it. (Honestly, this is one I struggle with because it seems so small a number compared to…I don’t even know what. But hell, it’s my very first book, in a niche format, so 5K is a number I should be proud of. If you’re one of those 5K, thank you. It means the world to me.)
  • Warren Ellis, one of my favourite writers, took time out of his busy schedule to read and review both Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow.
  • I signed with Martha Millard, the literary agent who represents William fucking Gibson, Ian McDonald, Michael Swanwick, and other well-known and well-respected figures in science-fiction. (Cadwell Turnbull is another early career author that Martha signed, and I feel like he’s going to be A Big Deal down the track, so check out his work now and get on board early.)
  • I’ve had the opportunity to go on tour with the likes of Terry Brooks and some other fantastic local and international authors.
  • And other exciting stuff that I can’t even talk about yet. Seriously, some big news that I should be fucking ecstatic about, but depression broke my brain.

Killing Gravity only came out thirteen months ago (give or take). That’s no time at all. My career has barely even begun, and if I let myself relax for one fucking  second I’ll realise that things are already looking bright. So maybe, just maybe, I should cut myself some fucking slack. Maybe self-loathing isn’t a healthy motivator. Maybe, if I try, I’ll find a better way.

Sorry, Marlee, I don’t think I’m going to work any less, but what I will do is try and enjoy where I’m at right now, instead of beating myself up about where I “should” be.

Three Years

Today it has been three years since Marlee Jane Ward and I started dating. But I’m not going to go into how we met, our first kiss, or any gross stuff like that, instead I just want to acknowledge how big an influence Marlee’s brilliant Welcome to Orphancorp was on Killing Gravity.

I’ve talked before about my musical influences for the book, and I believe I’ve mentioned in an interview that Akira was also an influence, specifically this scene:

But I haven’t really talked before about Welcome to Orphancorp. When I was studying writing at University, I’d been reading a fair bit of Chuck Palahniuk and writing mostly in the first person. So ten-ish years later when I decided to get serious about writing science-fiction I felt as though first-person was too juvenile* because it was the form I had used when I was writing… well, juvenile shit. But then I read Marlee’s Welcome to Orphancorp and realised exactly how powerful first-person can be. I mean, just look at the excerpt at this link and try not to be lost instantly in that world and in Mirii’s perspective.

When I had a loose outline for Killing Gravity, I still hadn’t decided on a POV, but it was Orphancorp that convinced me I should go with first person (that, and a scene right in the middle of the book that I knew would work best in first), and I’ll forever be grateful to Marlee for that. Without Orphancorp, Killing Gravity wouldn’t have been the same book, and maybe it wouldn’t have been a good enough book to get picked up.

So if you haven’t read it, you really should.

*There tends to be a bias against first-person perspective among a lot of readers and writers. I’m not sure why that is. It could be that it’s often used in YA, so people who deem YA to be beneath them lash out against it, or it could be that people think it’s cheating because the reader can see everything that’s going on inside the character’s head. I think it’s a tool, and like any tool it has its purposes – and if you write it off as either a reader or a writer, I think you’re going to miss out on some great opportunities.

Twin Hometowns

In April this year I’ll be doing Supanova again, this time in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast.

At these 2 shows I’ll be launching VOID BLACK SHADOW, part 2 of the VoidWitch Saga. I’m calling this a Twin Hometown Book Launch because both Melbourne and the Gold Coast are close to my heart.

My family moved from the outer Western suburbs of Sydney up to the Gold Coast when I was around 12 years old. It’s where I went to high school and university, it’s where I made plenty of incredible friends over the years, and it’s where my family still lives. I moved to Melbourne at 30, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. For one thing it has a real winter (unlike Queensland), but it’s also a city filled with great pubs and cafes, vibrant street art, music, culture, and a great writing scene.

I want to do something special for readers who make it out to the convention and say hello, so I’ve come up with the following GIVEAWAY.

The first three people at each convention to come up to me with both KILLING GRAVITY and VOID BLACK SHADOW (either that you already own, or purchased at the show), who tell me they need that third book will get a free copy of The VoidWitch Saga part 3 (I know the title, but I’m not telling yet) signed, stamped, and posted to them just as soon as I can get my own copies.

Again, in dot-point form:

  • Find me at Supanova.
  • Show me KILLING GRAVITY and VOID BLACK SHADOW.
  • Tell me you want that third book.
  • Give me your email address (I’ll be getting postal addresses just prior to posting in case people move house).
  • Wait patiently for me to get in touch (possibly October, maybe November).

Three copies to giveaway in each city for a total of six. I’m also hoping to have at least one short story done up as a zine to give to anyone and everyone who passes the table, so please swing by!

The Sound of Killing Gravity

I’ve spoken before about how I originally envisioned Killing Gravity – as a space post-hardcore EP, as opposed to a space opera – but I haven’t spoken in detail about my thinking behind it, or the music I was specifically referring to when I coined that (admittedly clunky) term.

See, operas are big, dramatic, “epic” performances; not only that but it’s also an old artform, carrying with it the musty scent of tradition. I didn’t want to write something big or unnecessarily complicated, “epic” for the sake of genre conventions. I wanted to pare everything back, cut right to the core, and tell a personal story that hints at larger conspiracies and larger battles but remains focussed on a small group of outsiders. So, if I wanted to write a space opera without the opera part, what would I use instead as inspiration? That’s where the idea of the post-hardcore EP came in.

An EP is short. A post-hardcore EP is short, short, dirty, with jagged sound that reaches out of your speakers and grabs you, forces you to listen close. There are moments of chaotic screaming noise offset by downbeat stretches of experimentation. There’s a poetic and broken quality to the lyrics, nonsense and beauty screamed in the same hoarse tone. There are weird syncopated rhythms and abstract time signatures.

And that’s everything I wanted to do with Killing Gravity, to put everything I love about These Arms Are Snakes (and to a lesser extent Genghis Tron, Refused, At the Drive-In, and Dillinger Escape Plan*) into words. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

If all that sounded like nonsense without the music to back it up, then you’ll be glad to find the links below.

These Arms Are Snakes Discography | TAAS/Harkonen Split EP | Genghis Tron – Board Up the House

Listen to everything at those above links non-stop for a month, and you’ll know what writing KG felt like.

 

 

*I’m deliberately leaving out Young Widows because I didn’t discover them until later, but they were basically the sole soundtrack to the writing of the third VoidWitch book.

Void Black Shadow

Over at the Barnes & Noble sci-fi blog, they’ve revealed the cover for VOID BLACK SHADOW, the sequel to Killing Gravity.

Void Black Shadow cover image

Void Black Shadow (March 27, 2018)

Corey J. White’s space opera Voidwitch Series continues: Mars Xi returns in Void Black Shadow, sequel to Killing Gravity.

Mars Xi is a living weapon, a genetically-manipulated psychic supersoldier with a body count in the thousands, and all she wanted was to be left alone. People who get involved with her get hurt, whether by MEPHISTO, by her psychic backlash, or by her acid tongue. It’s not smart to get involved with Mars, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying.

The last time MEPHISTO came for Mars they took one of her friends with them. That was a mistake. A force hasn’t been invented that can stop a voidwitch on a rampage, and Mars won’t rest until she’s settled her debts.

I loved the cover art for Killing Gravity and received plenty of comments on it, so I was sure it was going to be hard to beat, but Tommy Arnold absolutely knocked it out of the park with the art for Void Black Shadow.

This book a different beast to Killing Gravity, so I’m excited and a little scared to see it get out there. I’m sure some people won’t like it as much because it goes to some darker places, but it’s the book I had to write. Hopefully it ends up being well-received, because I would love to go into detail about where the book goes and why, but time will tell. We’ll both have to wait a few more months to see…

Excitement

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.

Big, In-Depth Interview

Recently I was interviewed by Alasdair Stuart over at Tor.com. Alasdair is behind Escape Artists (the family of SFFH podcasts which includes Escape PodPseudopodPodcastle, 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.

Civil Interview

This past week I was interviewed by Stefan over at Civilian Reader about Killing Gravity, my inspirations, and plenty more. Go check it out.

This was my first interview, and I’m keen to do more. I’m looking forward to being interviewed by someone who’s read Killing Gravity, and having a real conversation about it. But I guess that will probably have to wait until after its release.

Galleys arrive at the Tor.com offices.
Galleys arrive at the Tor.com offices.