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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…

 

Signing Events (and getting signed stuff)

I’m going to be doing two signings for STORMBLOOD later this month! Both are on the 12th of June. The first is in Kinokunyia Sydney at around 2pm, and the second will be in Galaxy Bookshop shortly afterwards. I’ll be signing all their stock, as well as doing personalization signings (I’m told there are some already). I’ll probably be heading into Dymocks, Sydney, as well. Never done a signing with a published novel before, so things should be fun!

For those of you who live anywhere in the world that is not Sydney, Australia, fear not! You can still get my Sharpie chicken scrawl across the title page of the book. There are some stores that have my signature:

Forbidden Planet

Goldsboro (hardback special edition only)

I signed a stack of bookplates for Gollancz to stick into the printed copies as well. Not sure how you can get your hands on those, but you can always ask!

STORMBLOOD is published!

I am officially a published novelist. My debut STORMBLOOD is out in the world.

Can’t even begin to say how good it feels to type those words.

STORMBLOOD wasn’t the first book I wrote. Or the second. Or the third. I’ve been scribbling down stories since I was eleven years old. But it wasn’t until 2012, when I was seventeen, I seriously considered writing a novel to be published professionally.  I made several attempts at it, but it wasn’t 2016 that I sat down on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in a Sydney cafe and wrote the first chapter of STORMBLOOD.

So it’s been a hell of a long journey. A lot blood, sweat, tears, and alcohol involved, and a lot more rejections along the way. But would I do it again? Sure. Because those years of honing my craft helped me create the novel I always wanted to write. It’s me, my voice, my style, my genre, firing on all cylinders. There’s no trunk novel I’m itching to publish in the future. No grand project I’m planning on working my way up to.

STORMBLOOD is my best work. And I’m insanely proud of it. I couldn’t be happier. My book, on bookshelves across the globe, rubbing dead-tree shoulders with authors who’ve inspired me have helped make science-fiction the genre that is today. And for better or worse, my book is apart of that genre. My characters are are finally out there in the world, waiting to be discovered.

I finally get to say: BUY MY BOOK.

But seriously. Please do buy my book. Every bit helps, especially in these times. Here’s some links:

Amazon US

Goldsboro Special Edition Hardback (only 250 available)

Waterstones

Amazon UK  

Hive UK

Audible UK (for audio listeners)

Goodreads

What also helps is spreading the word. To librarians, booksellers, fans, book bloggers, whatever. If you enjoy about my book (or any book, for that matter) go shouting from the rooftops. Even better: write reviews. They help. A lot. Goodreads, and especially Amazon, benefit writers hugely when there’s enough reviews for algorithms to kick in. Even if it’s just a sentence, it’s a huge help.

Me? I’m off to the bar.

 

Stormblood

Interviews galore

I recently did two interviews with two different podcasts. Both of which I discuss STORMBLOOD, as well as my inspiration for writing the book, where I grew up, what books I read when I was young, and how they influenced me over the years.

The first is with David Walters, on his excellent and aptly named podcast: Authors on a Podcast, Talking Books. You can give that a listen here!

The second is with Dan Smith, on his new and equally excellent “Coffee in Space”. Which you can find right over here.

Hope you give them a listen! And, if you can, subscribe to their channels; they’ve got some great interviews with authors who are not me.

 

 

 

My first virtual con, for the pandemic age

As you might as noticed, COVID-19 has been screwing with the world’s plans. Including, of course, conventions and festivals.

But thankfully, the internet still exists. And podcaster/blogger David Walters has organized MayDay Con, a virtual convention to take place on May 16th from 7:00AM-9:00PM CST. I’ll be in attendance on a panel, as well as doing my first ever reading, and first ever public reading of STORMBLOOD. So if you want to see me make a fool of myself from the comfort of your own home, subscribe to David’s channel here.

If you’re not coming for me (shocked, shocked, I tell you!) there’s one hell of a line-up, including Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, Matthew Ward, M. R. Carey, Anna Smith Spark, and Luke Arnold (who you probably know as playing Long John Silver for four seasons in the TV show Black Sails).

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The show will be broadcast live, and will also remain online afterrwards, even if you don’t catch it live.

Here’s the scheduling.

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Look at this bunch of handsome bastards. We’d make one hell of a band!

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And so would our books!

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Hope to see you there!

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