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2021 in Review

Well. It’s certainly been a year. I’m not sure I can say anything about the global state of affairs that hasn’t been said by others a hundred times over already, so I’ll stick with the personal side of things.

Bookselling: I had two books come out this year! The mass market paperback edition of Stormblood dropped in early January and the trade paperback edition of Blindspace came out last month in November. Not exactly the best times to be releasing books, but then I’m not sure what is the best time to be releasing a book. All in all, they’ve been doing relatively well. Stormblood especially continues to track on, gaining readers and reviewers from all around the globe (a joy I hope never gets old) as more people become fully corrupted by my savage little world. It boggles the mind to think that something I wrote in my free-time in a little beachside cafe would be read by anyone at all, let alone to the extent that it has.

The big deal, of course, is the release of Blindspace. My first ever sequel, first ever book written under contract, et cetera. I’m immensely proud of it and I’m delighted to have it out in the big wide world at last. I had a fabulous book launch here in Sydney, co-hosted by the wonderful and generous Garth Nix, which was huge fun. Unlike the writing of the book itself. Which brings us to…

Bookwriting: Blindspace was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. At least 2/3s of the first draft was gutted and rewritten. The majority of that was done during 2020. 2021 was kinder to me, as I spent the majority of the year doing more focused edits, refining character arcs, strengthening each scene, tightening the battles and sharpening the world-building. That’s the part of the process I enjoy the most, I find, and bringing Blindspace up to a level of quality I was happy with was, for the most part, hugely enjoyable.

Otherwise, I started work on the third, and final (?) book in The Common trilogy earlier this year. I’ve got about 120k down, of which maybe 80k is actually useable. I know the big arcs, the overall story structure, and where things are going to end up. It’s the bits inbetween that are more hazy, but I’m going to figure it out as I go along. The process has been challenging thus far, but noticeably less so than Book 2.

Otherwise, I’ve written a couple of stories for a few anthologies, which is always fun. It gets me out of my own little world with the opportunity to play around in another for a while. I don’t really write or submit short fiction cold anymore, but if I’m asked to contribute to an anthology or interesting project I’m always already to jump in and deliver some bite-sized fiction.

Some of the aforementioned stories have already been released, some have not. Watch this space.

Which brings us to…

The Year Ahead: I’ll be ploughing ahead with Book 3 for the majority of the year. The plan is to get a first draft down, focusing on story and character. This draft will run as long as it needs to be (likely in the ballpark of 220-250k) and then to go back and fill in all the blanks, retreating the next pass as a sort of rewrite. Sometimes I need to get the skeleton down on the page before adding all the meat, so I can see what needs to go where and what needs some serious revising. It’ll all be big-picture stuff; structure and plot and story arcs. Once that’s nailed down, I’ll be chopping out the rest of the ugly clay, wilting the book down to a more sizeable 200k or so, before focusing on individual scenes.

Otherwise: The print-version of Stormblood will be published in the US/Canada in January 2022, with Blindspace published in Canada in March, and in the US towards the end of the year. They’re all already up for pre-order, so you’re more than welcome to grab ’em in advance. It’ll be fantastic to finally have a bookstore presence in the US and Canada, especially as there’re readers across the pond who are desperate to get their paws on a physical copy. So I’m very much looking forward to that. But my primary focus will be chipping away at Book 3, getting all those words down on the page so I can then get them in the right order.

Have a good one, and stay safe, wherever you all are.

BLINDSPACE is Out!

After nearly three years of hard labour, BLINDSPACE, the second book in the Common trilogy, has been unleashed on the public! It feels like an age since August 2018, when I started outlining and developing the book’s narrative. Things have rapidly changed and divulged since then, and for the better, and I’m incredibly happy with the final product.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, having a book finally sent off into the world. It’s great to see all that hard work pay off and get into the hands of hungry readers, but it’s also saying farewell to a huge chunk of your life, knowing it’s all set in stone now. But the show must go on, of course.

It’s available in all the usual venues and shops, in all formats, virtual and brick and mortar. It’s garnred some nice reviews so far, too.

“The wonderful weirdness and tense action that began in Stormblood gets increased 100x. . . Blindspace does a wonderful job of expanding the world with new fascinating alien races and cultures, showcases terrifying gambits on both sides of the conflict, and has adrenaline soaked action scenes that made me race through the book to learn more and find out what was going to happen.” – Nick Martell, author of THE KINGDOM OF LIARS

“This was one hell of a ride showing that Jeremy’s writing skills have evolved from Stormblood into something even more serious. Blindspace is the kind of book you want to read when you want brutal, space-faring action with aliens, devious enemies, found family and high stakes. Be prepared to wince, grimace and turn the pages quickly when you pick this up. It’s one hell of a ride.” – The SFF Oasis

“One of my favorite things about Blindspace is the way the character development and the group dynamics were handled. Szal does a great job of setting up believable conflicts between his characters, and there was a natural ebb and flow to the way the team worked together. In order to do this right, you have to start with great characters, and in this the author succeeds with flying colors.” – Books, Bones, and Buffy

“BLINDSPACE is that it not only builds on and considerably expands the initial story, but also improves upon it in truly significant ways. I was touched by the deeply personal moments, thrilled by the intense action, and mesmerized by what continues to be some of the coolest and most innovative technology and science I’ve come across.” – Out Of This World Reviews

UK:
Gollancz.co.uk
Amazon
Waterstones

Bookshop.org

Goldsboro (Limited Signed Hardback)

The Broken Binding (Signed Bookplates)

Forbidden Planet

 

US:

Amazon.com

BookShop.org

Book Depository (also ships internationally)

Kobo

Google Books

IndieBound

 Barnes and Nobles

 

Australia:
Amazon.com
Galaxy Book Shop

Kinokuniya Books

Harry Hartog

Dymocks

BLINDSPACE Hardback Available at Goldsboro

At last, it can be announced! The fabulous Goldsboro books are doing a special, limited hardback run of BLINDSPACE, just as they did with STORMBLOOD, with fabulous dark-purple sprayed edges. They’re all accompanied by my hand-crafted, vintage, bespoke signature, with some witty turns of phrase included for good measure. I do it for you, dear readers! I do it for you!

There’s only going to be 250 copies available (one of which is MINE), so if you’re looking for a hardback edition I do suggest you grab one quickly. . .

You can go ahead and buy it on the Goldsboro website, here.

BLINDSPACE FAQ

With Blindspace’s release on the horizon, I thought I’d answer a few questions that I’ve been getting every so often . . .

When is the release date?

At this point, November 25. But it’s possible that could change to very early next year. But soon. Very soon.

How many pages is it?

A whopping 670 pages, although I haven’t seen a printed version to confirm. This makes it 140 pages longer than STORMBLOOD.

Is Colin Mace narrating the audiobook again?

He sure is! I can’t wait to hear him breathe life into my little dottings and make me sound classy.

Is it the final book in the series?

Hell no! It’s the second book in The Common trilogy, with another book to come (a book I should be writing now, actually). I have three books planned, but enough story for four. We shall see.

Why is it called BLINDSPACE?

As with STORMBLOOD, I choose my titles very deliberately. You’ll find out how BLINDSPACE earned its title soon after reading the book.

ZOMG WHERE CAN I BUY IT?

Thanks for asking! It’s available for pre-order in all the usual places: Amazon, Audible, Waterstones, Forbidden Planet, etc.

Where can I get a signed edition?

I’ll also be doing some signings for all bookstores down here in Sydney, when the time comes. But Galaxy Bookshop is guaranteed to have signed stock by me, so if you order with them I’ll make sure I deface your copy, should it please you.

Will there be ARCS?

There won’t be any printed ARCs. But early review copies will be released on NetGalley UK by the end of September, and you’ll have to request there to get an early reader copy. I have no control over who gets their request accepted, however.

Will there be a hardback run?

Yes! Goldsboro are doing a limited, signed hardback release, just as they did with STORMBLOOD. I’d recommend signing up to their newsletter, to be sure you don’t miss out. There will not be any other hardback edition editions. I’ve come across sellers claiming to sell new hardback editions of my books and I can guarantee you that they’re bogus. The Goldsboro editions are the only hardbacks in existence, and they’re all signed.

Will it be released in the US/Canada?

Yes, it will! It’ll be the same day as the Commonwealth countries, for ebook and audio. Print is another matter. I’ll keep you all posted on when that changes.

But I live in the US and my life means nothing without a print copy!

Fear not! You can always order here from Book Depository and get free worldwide shipping!

Who designed the cover art?

The good folks over at BlackSheep take full responsibility for their stunning work on my covers.

Will I suffer?

Yes. But you already knew that, right?

Blindspace Progress Update

It’s been a while since I punched one of these out. My excuse being that I’ve been working flat out to deliver copyedits for Blindspace, Book #2 in the Common series. Strange to think that a three-year project (I outlined the book back in August 2018) has almost wrapped up. I won’t lie; writing this book is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hated almost everything about writing it past the first act, with the whole of 2019 basically crippled with indecision about where I wanted the book to go.

So it wasn’t until I finished the first draft in early 2020 when I sat down and took a good, hard look at the second instalment in my trilogy and what adjustments I would have to make. And I made a lot. It’s fair to say the true book came about in the editing. Whole character arcs were rewritten, characters were added and others killed off, entire scenes gutted out and replaced, set pieces restructured, with some major shifts in tone and overall plot that’ll radically alter how the story continues from here.

It sounds like a lot of work. And it was. But I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it very much. The process has taught me a lot about my own approach to storytelling and I’ll be applying what I’ve learned for the rest of my writing career. Or so one hopes.

The end result is a massive, character-driven space opera that’s epic in scope but very tightly focused on the main assemble cast. It’s far more space opera than the first book, with a much greater emphasis on character relationships. It’s a much better reflection of “me” as a creator than the first book and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out. It goes to some very dark places, but with some emotionally brutal, heart-wrenching moments I truly wasn’t sure if I could pull off. There’s several new cast members that join Vakov’s party – two of which are aliens. I’ll leave you to discover them all for yourself. The book’s also a whopping 188,000 words (33,000 words longer than the first, but by no means unusual for “epic” SFF fiction these days, at least in the UK), so there’s plenty of meat to sink your teeth into.

BLINDSPACE will be dropping on November 11 in all formats in the UK/Australia/New Zealand/Europe and some time in January in the US/Canada. And it’s already up for pre-order! (Did I say that pre-orders are a huge help? Pre-orders are a huge help). The Man Of a Thousand Voices – Colin Mace – will be returning to do the audio book.

I’m thrilled to very soon have this book out and I do hope you all love it!

Book Depository

Audible Australia

Audible US

Audible UK

Shapers of Worlds Part II Anthology needs YOU on Kickstarter

While I’m primary writing (and known for) my long-form science-fiction, I’m still actively writing short stories, should a kind and generous editor get in touch with me.

The Shapers of Worlds Part II anthology is one such anthology that I’m part of this year. It contains a story set outside of the Common universe, and is a story I very much could *not* write within that setting. It’s a Barsoom-influenced science-fantasy set on a desert planet and is the closest thing I’ll ever come to writing a Western.

But to make that story a reality, The Shapers of Worlds Part II needs to be funded on Kickstarter. I’m apart of the line-up, along with two dozen other awesome authors, including the prestigious likes of Garth Nix, Tim Pratt, Tanya Huff.

To backers of a certain level, I’m also offering signed bookplates that I’ll post to you anywhere in the world. So, if having my chicken scrawl defacing your copy of STORMBLOOD, this anthology, or any other sounds good to you, there’s a chance to grab one here.

Either way, please do consider backing this anthology.

You can find it here.

Getting signed books at the Broken Binding and Galaxy Bookstore!

I sign as many copies of my book as I can. Unfortunately, that usually extends to bookstores in my local area, or stores that I can visit physically. In some circumstances, I’ve been able to send off signed bookplates to bookstores to be glued into the books. Jeff Bezos has enough money, so I’m very happy to go the extra effort to sign books if it means more readers support indie and SFF specialist bookstores.

These are the places you can, as far as I know, get signed copies of my book:

Galaxy Bookstore. Located in Sydney, Australia, have agreed to continuously stock signed copies of my book. They ship nationally and internationally. I’m more than happy to provide dedications or personalized signatures for anyone who wants a copy. Order a copy from them with any special requests, and I’ll pop by and sign them for you. It’s really no bother, and it’s a great way to get signed books sent off to readers who’d never otherwise be able to meet me in person.

The Broken Binding. Located in the UK, they’ve got plenty of signed copies of my book. I can’t personalize them, alas, but they’re the only folks in the UK who have signed bookplates. They’re a great indie bookstore and I highly, highly recommend checking them out.

STORMBLOOD short story prequel available

I don’t have much time for short fiction lately. But in the Before Times, in mid 2019, me and Ian Whates spoke about me contributing a short story to an anthology about future London he was putting together. That story ended up being not so short, at 13,000 words (my longest published piece of short fiction). But now, it’s out in the world, and I’m sharing some fine company.

Militant A.I.s, virtual realities, augmented realities and alternative realities; a city where murderers stalk the streets, where drug lords rule the shadows, and where large sections of the population are locked in time stasis, but where tea is still sipped in cafés on the corner and the past still resonates with the future…
Neal Asher opens the anthology with a story set in his Polity Universe, Dave Hutchinson gives us a novelette from his Fractured Universe milieu, Jeremy Szal takes us to the world of his debut novel Stormblood, M.R. Carey, Aliette de Bodard, Geoff Ryman, Aliya Whiteley and a cast of equally talented writers transport us to Londons near and far…

Contents:

1. Introduction by Ian Whates
2. Skin – Neal Asher
3. The Good Shepherd – Stewart Hotston
4. Infinite Tea in the Demara Café – Ida Keogh
5. War Crimes – M.R. Carey
6. Fog and Pearls at the King’s Cross Junction – Aliya Whiteley
7. Nightingale Floors – Dave Hutchinson
8. Something Went Wrong in Heaven – Geoff Ryman
9. A Visit in Whitechapel – Eugen Bacon
10. Herd Instinct – Fiona Moore
11. Death Aid – Joseph Elliott-Coleman
12. A Dance of Dust and Life – Aliette de Bodard
13. Commute – Andrew Wallace
14. Scream in Blue – Jeremy Szal
15. About the Authors

Available as an A5 paperback and a numbered limited edition hardback signed by all the contributing authors.

And just as the description notes, this short story takes place in the world of STORMBLOOD, making it my first published prequel to the novel. It was a great chance to try something different and experiment with a different PoV and style. Here, the prose is deliberately a little more baroque and is marginally more purple than I’d usually write if I was still wearing Vakov Fukasawa’s skin.

It doesn’t have any of the same characters as those who appear in STORMBLOOD, and the adventure takes place in London as opposed to a megacity asteroid, but it’s definitely connected to the novel, although it can be read as a standalone. If you haven’t read STORMBLOOD, there are a few spoilers in the story you may want to watch out for.

So if all that sounds cool to you, you’re welcome to grab it online at the publisher’s website (or any other retailer of your choice). Hope you enjoy!

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