Sean Williams

2015: Done and Dusted

posted on 31 Dec 2015 at 7:55 am

It’s been a complicated year. There have been downs as well as ups, but this post is all about the ups. So here we go. From here on it’s all good news!

TUS launch - edited2015 was the twentieth anniversary of the launch of my first novel, The Unknown Soldier (cowritten with Shane Dix). The photo on the right comes from that fateful night in 1995. Little did I know (or dare dream) that I would be celebrating reaching book/age parity (48/48) two decades later.

Hollowgirl (aka Twinmaker: Fall) came out in November, and to celebrate the occasion I went back to the SA Writers’ Centre and held a double launch with friend and fellow Adelaide author Lisa L. Hannett, whose first novel Lament for the Afterlife came out around the same time. There was much champagne and mutual back-slapping (Lisa was kind enough to launch my book and I was honoured to launch hers), followed by some dancing to bad 1980s music, and finally a re-enactment of that very first launch photo, featuring two original members from 1995.

launch reenactmentOne should never turn down a chance to celebrate, particular when the book itself has had such great reviews: “packed with surprises (Kirkus), “unreal!” (Locus), “intelligent” (Booklist), etc. I’ve been really pleased with its reception, and not just because Hollowgirl was the hardest book I’ve ever written. The feedback has been great from readers and reviewers alike.

As well as hitting book/age parity (a second time), I passed another milestone this year: the publication of my 100th short story. A strange little tale called “Immaterial Progress”, it was one of several flash fiction experiments set in the Twinmaker universe. Others were “Collision”, “A Giant Leap for a Man”, and “Tall Tales About Today My Great-great-granddaughter Will Tell”. “The Other Forty-Two” is another experiment with flash, completely stand-alone. Redux“Redux” (a novella linking the three books of the Twinmaker series), “All the Wrong Places”, and “The Dark Matters” are stories in more traditional forms, albeit with very different tones. I’ve had a bit of success with creepy stuff all through my career, and “The Dark Matters” is possibly the creepiest story I’ve yet written about matter transmitters. Another one of those dark stories, “The Legend Trap”, won a Ditmar Award for Best Novella of 2014 at this year’s natcon in Perth.

Still in the Twinmaker universe, 2015 saw my first dalliance with Wattpad via the posting of a “mutated” version of Twinmaker called 113 in installments leading up to the release of Hollowgirl. It’s a more polished version of the novel I submitted for my PhD in matter transmittery, covering all the major events of the original book from a different point of view, and featuring some twists and turns that didn’t survive into print. Other mutated editions of Twinmaker projects include the “hashtag” versions of “Redux” and Crash, posted daily to Twitter and Facebook.

In terms of new writing, 2015 wasn’t a banner year for getting things done, but it was for getting my head in the right space to get things done down the track (if that makes sense). I started a new YA novel, In My Mind, for new publisher Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) in the US, and received a grant from the Australia Council for the YA novel after that (working title: Impossible Music). Both of these books are a change of pace for me, privileging various kinds of disability over fantastical futures and apocalyptic scenarios.

As well as these two novels, Garth Nix and I submitted the first book of a new fantasy series for IMG_3546 - editedmiddle grade readers (due 2017), and I signed up to write a collaborative novel with half the kids of South Australia, just for fun. I do love working with other people. Another one is Thom Buchanan, with whom “Artefact: Ant Attack” unfolded at the SA Ruby Awards celebration this year. I enjoy the challenge of poetry and public works, and wish I could do more like this.

It was another busy year on the public-life front, with appearances at Perth Writers’ Festival, Reading Matters, Voices on the Coast, Bendigo Writers’ Festival, and Conflux, along with varous readings and guest spots in writers’ centres and bookstores hither and yon. I gave speeches about the perils of literature addiction and my love for fantasy and science fiction. I tried not to offend too many people. I was interviewed by Locus, talked about matter transmitters on Charlie Stross’ blog, tried to explain why “The Fly” franchise is one of the most amazing in the world, won the Listserve, and more.

If people wanted me in their faces, in other words, that wasn’t hard to arrange. Is that a writer’s role these days? I’m not sure, but I feel lucky to have so many outlets for my opinions.

So what’s up for 2016? Well, I have to finish In My Mind, write Impossible Music, and get started on the second book of the new series with Garth.I have three new Twinmaker stories scheduled (“The Lives of Riley”, “Sing, My Murdered Darlings” and “Lust, Entrapment and the Matter Transmitter: A Case Study”–cheerful stuff). There are ongoing experiments with TV and film, plus who knows what other opportunities are coming my way? I’ll be at Writers of the Future and Bendigo Writers’ Festival. For the first time in a very long time, I have no novels scheduled. That means I can concentrate on writing and one enjoying being at home.

I am blessed with a very good life. Thanks to everyone who helps make it possible.

lightning edited


Sparkly stock photos from Morguefile