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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!

BLINDSPACE Update (Cover and release delay)

I’m not much of a blogger. Never been one for talking about how I’m going to do something; I’d rather just go ahead and do it. But I’ve been on holiday for the past few days and I’m itching to get back at the keyboard, and thought I should do a little update.

The bad news out of the way: if you’re not already aware, BLINDSPACE’s original release date of April 2021 has been pushed back to October 2021. This was a mutual decision by me and my editor. Unlike STORMBLOOD, I’ve had to do major, major structural edits on top of rewriting and reoutlining entire chunks of the book. BLINDSPACE barely resembles what I originally outlined, and that’s a good thing. Characters demanded to be written and introduced and given arcs, plot threads wanted to be expanded upon, and aspects of world-building begged to be explored. And while I’m an outliner at heart, I do firmly believe that books need to be written the way they want to be. And having a narrative evolve organically is its own magic that simply can’t be captured or forced, no matter how much you plan ahead. So changes have had to be made.

This means that BLINDSPACE will be an infinitely better book that firmly reflects my vision. It also means it’s going to take time to give it that final, extra polish.

Sure, what I have now is publishable. But I swore I’d never, ever betray my own work by handing in second-rate prose when I knew I could do better. And having been blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response to STORMBLOOD, I’m more determined than ever to have BLINDNSPACE match and surpass the first book’s quality.

It’s been a tough book to write, and even harder to edit. But the bastard has my full attention and I’ll be punching out words like a machine this summer. It’ll be in your hands no later than October 2021, that I promise you.

Now. The good news. The cover for BLINDSPACE dropped and what a thing of beauty it is. I’ll let the picture itself do the talking, but suffice to say the team at Blacksheep have outdone themselves in every capacity. The cover also strongly hints at the direction the book will be taking. . .

STORMBLOOD Review Round Up

STORMBLOOD has been out for just over three months (!) and has collected quite the ensemble of reviews and blurbs from authors and professional outlets alike. It sits at a healthy 3.87/5 average on Goodreads, which is hard to not be pleased with.

Presented without comment, here’s what some people have been saying:

 

The Guardian calls it a “high-octane, galaxy-spanning cyberpunk military space opera with an original premise and a breakneck plot that never lets up. Stormblood boasts gloriously described alien worlds, mammoth starships, exotic weaponry and bizarre extraterrestrials – but Szal doesn’t stint on the human element. Fukasawa’s affection for his old colleagues is touchingly rendered, the perfect foil to the novel’s gung-ho action sequences, and his depiction of addicts in search of a fix is both poignant and powerful.”

Nicholas Eames of Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose fame calls it “an excellent debut with a ton of heart. Aside from being an action-packed rollercoaster (because it definitely IS that) it’s also a story of brotherhood–the kind you’re born into, and the kind you forge through lived experience.”

SFX Magazine put it as “delivers visceral, bone-crunching fight sequences and a strong emotional core”

Gary over at Booknest.eu “read this in two sittings with eight cups of tea, half of which had gone cold by the time I took a sip, so engrossed was I in Vakov’s story and the world Szal has created.”

Sam of The Book In Hand blog gave it the July Book of the Month and “didn’t expect this to have such a deep and profound emphasis on many of the topics it does, some being siblings/family, drug abuse, poverty, trauma, brotherhood and camaraderie.”

Tammy Sparks of Books and Bones and Buffy gets down to the nitty-gritty: “An excellent start to a new series, Stormblood melds high tech thriller with a cyberpunk sensibility and a dash of humor and heart.”

Maddelena of Space and Socrery recommends caution, as “there were a couple of harrowing torture scenes which made my skin crawl– but this is ultimately a captivating adventure story with plenty of heart at its center, and also a very human, very poignant journey.”

Jake is Reading feels that “STORMBLOOD is incredibly hard-hitting and Szal pulls out all the stops but none of the punches. Being one of the more intense books I’ve read, there are also memorable moments of humour and friendship, and Szal’s worldbuilding is both fascinating and unique.”

Nick Borrelli declares “there are very few books that will engage you the way that STORMBLOOD does.  It’s rare to come across a book that has so much intense action and yet also touches you on a personal and emotional level at the same time.”

Arina of RockStarLit warns thatStormblood’s action is not for the faint of heart. It’s precise high-caliber artillery ready to burst a hole in your chest. If you’re in for high-caliber military action, a developed tech world brimming with spacefaring cultures, and a raw portrayal of the fallouts of war and addiction, Stormblood is the book to satisfy all your hungers” but gives a trigger-warning for “abuse, beating, self-harm, ptsd, addiction, death”.

BLINDSPACE, and the state of things

It’s been nearly two months since I posted my last blog, and nearly two months since STORMBLOOD hit the shelves.With all the reviews, bloggers, blog posts, video reviews, guest posts, Goodreads rating, signings, launches, and general tomfoolery, it’s been one whirlwind of a time. Barely had the chance to catch my breath.

Reviews so far have been very, very good. Better than I was expecting. I’ve been signing every copy I can get my paws on instore – the feeling of actually seeing All My Words out in the wild is amazing. Even more so when I’m rubbing alphabetical shoulders with Tolkien, Neal Stevenson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tade Thompson, etc. But more on that later.

For those of you not in the know, STORMBLOOD is the first book in the Common series. Or trilogy, rather. And I’m waist-deep in editing the second book in the series, BLINDSPACE. Without spoiling anything, this book goes full blown space-opera. We expand beyond Compass, beyond the solar system, in fact. Whereas the first book had a noir cyberpunk-ish theme to it, especially in the early pages, BLINDSPACE is very much in the vein of THE EXPANSE (you’ll know when you see it), and authors like Alastair Reynolds and Pierce Brown. They’ve always had a strong influence on my writing, but now it’ll be much more obvious. More characters are added to the main cast, both new and familiar. And not all of them are human. The story will be told entirely from Vakov’s messed up, alien-infused first-person PoV.

It’s also much darker than STORMBLOOD. Elements of PTSD, addiction, fanaticism, and, of course, absolute rage are very central themes to the book. It’s also significantly longer. STORMBLOOD clocked in at around 155k (in hindsight, I could have shaved 2-3k of prose calories off that and the story would be the same). But BLINDSPACE will be sitting at around 180k. Probably. Maybe. You never know what my editor will make me cut!

I’m also working very, very hard to make BLINDSPACE work. This will not be a middle book that exists to set up the finale. This will not be a big, isolated narrative. Events from the first book have consequences, and events taking place in Book 2 have consequences further on.

And because of that, writing and editing it is taking longer than I anticipated. We’re flirting with an April 2021 release date, but those decisions are not up to me, (and nor should they be). I have yet to hand it into my editor (although my agent has read the first half). But I’m working on it full time: 4-5 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. I do it for you, oh readers! I do it for you. And seeing folks already pumped for it is fabulous, but it doesn’t come with its own added pressure. But it is what it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Watch this space…

 

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