October 2014 - Issue #1 (#1! Sprouts away!)
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Welcome to the newsletter of all things

Sean Williams!

This being the first issue, there are bound to be some issues. Creaky floorboards, drippy taps - that kind of thing. Bear with me. We'll get there!
How This Works...

I love newsletters. Rather than search the internet for new stuff from my favourite artists, it's so much easier to have the latest come straight into my inbox where I can read it at my leisure. So that's what I'm offering to you in return.

I also like newsletters that give me something I can't get anywhere else. A subscribers-only contest, for instance, or bonus material like a short story, or an insight into creative process, or even a Brussels sprouts recipe. You see where this is going.

My solemn compact to you, dear reader, is to do all the above, and sometimes more. So why not kick it all off with a bit of everything? The only thing I can’t do right now is answer any of your questions. That can be for next time, so send them in! Let’s make this a two-way street.

(Huge thanks, by the way, to Heather Gammage, without whom this first issue wouldn't have happened!)

This month:

  1. News
  2. Upcoming Appearances
  3. Reviews
  4. Newsletter Exclusives
  5. Crashland Sneak Preview
  6. What I'm Reading
  7. Recipe of the Month
  8. Exclusive Story - "Wolf's Clothing"
  9. Ask Sean
  10. Recently, On My Blog...
  11. Sean Who?



  • Crashland - It's nearly upon us! Available from HarperCollins in the US and Egmont in the UK, and Allen & Unwin in Australia (where it's called Crash), it'll reveal what happens after the explosive ending of the first book in the series. The first chapter is below, to give you a taste.
  • "The View from the End of the World" - bonus Twinmaker story in Crash.
  • "The Beholders" a Twinmaker story in Breaking Beauty. November 9.

What's in the oven?

  • I'm editing Twinmaker book three, called Fall in Australia and Hollowgirl everywhere else, and brainstorming two projects, including a new one with Garth Nix.
Buy Books

Upcoming Appearances


Booklist - Crashland

"Williams brings back the girl who broke the world and gives her a whole new set of complications in this thrilling futuristic follow-up to Twinmaker (2013). <snip spoilers> Williams explodes the narrative he set up in the first novel with deep philosophical questions about the power of technology. <snip spoilers> The story powers on to a relentless, shocking conclusion that will leave readers howling for more. Recommend alongside other sci-fi titles with ethical complexity and logical quandaries, like Mary E. Pearson’s The Adoration of Jenna Fox (2008), William Sleator’s The Last Universe (2005), and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind (2007)."

Recent posts on the blog

"Crashland is coming II"

Sneak preview of the bonus short story in the Australian edition.

"The Murdering Twinmaker"

Excerpt from my PhD, a section called "The Rise of the Space Machine".

Outtakes from "I, Q"

Five in all, starting here.

"The Ghost of what might have been"

Exclusive new urban myth set in the Twinmaker universe.

Newsletter Exclusives

Crashland Chapter One sneak preview!
Exclusive short story!

You'll find both of these below. Crashland explores the lengths someone will go to try to fix an innocent mistake, which leads me to . . .


Advance copies are arriving thick and fast and I'd like to give some of them to you.

Send me a joke about the cold via Facebook, Twitter or email using the links at the end of this newsletter. Cold, snow, ice, freezing, brass monkeys ... This will make sense when you read Twinmaker 3. I'll roll some magic D6s and announce the winners in the next newsletter.
A teetering tower of potential freebies.
Sean who?
Twenty-five years ago, I dropped out of uni to pursue a career in writing. I’m now a #1 New York Times bestselling author of over forty award-winning novels for children, young adults and adults, nearly one hundred short stories, and the odd odd poem. My latest books include Twinmaker (aka Jump) and Troubletwisters: Missing, Presumed Evil, the latter co-written with Garth Nix. I live with my family in Adelaide, South Australia, just up the road from the best chocolate factory in the world. Seriously.

Not to be confused with
my friends Sean E. Williams the New York Times bestselling graphic novelist or Sean Williams the awesome musicologist, or even Sean J. Williams who once wrote a book called Fashion Fairies.

What I'm Reading

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Spooky, blood-soaked Sydney. One of my favourite writers!
Exo by Steven Gould

The latest in the Jumper series. Awesome!

Recipe of the Month: Sprout Pizza

How? Slice and parboil your Brussels sprouts with a bit of salt and pepper (I like the porcini salt from the Mushroom Man). Chop and fry your mushrooms. Take a thin base (I use a simple wholemeal flour, egg and yoghurt recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver) and apply a simple tomato sauce (I cheat and use something bought from the supermarket) followed by a layer of grated cheese (I never use the stinky stuff, although blue cheese would probably work well for this recipe, I'm told). Add the sprouts, mushrooms, pitted olives (sliced any way you like), chopped garlic, onion & chilli, and another sprinkling of cheese. Cook in your pizza oven until it looks ready to you. Why? That's a question only you can answer. Enjoy!

Ask Sean / Writerly Advice

Send me questions and I'll do my best to ask them. With my thinking cap on, of course (see below). In the meantime, here's a quote to be getting on with:
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
~ Gloria Steinem
For more stories set in the Twinmaker universe, head on over to the series web site, where you'll find links to everything that's in print plus a list of everything that's coming.

The most recent was the novella "I, Q", which tells the story of Twinmaker from the point of view of a different character entirely. If you've forgotten what happened in book one, this is a great way to be reminded.

You'll also find deleted scenes and more.

Crashland sneak preview

The day the world ended, Clair Hill was sitting at a table in a tiny interview room opposite two uniformed peacekeepers, one of whom was the tallest woman she had ever met. With short blond hair and a friendly, open expression, PK Sargent’s first order of business was to offer Clair a cup of coffee and summon a medic to look at her bruised elbow. The injury was minor but the memory of how she had gotten it was one of several running on rapid repeat through Clair’s mind. There was nothing the medic could do about those.
The other peacekeeper, PK Forest, conducted the interrogation. In contrast to Sargent, who looked at most ten years older than Clair, Forest was a small man in his fifties, with narrow shoulders and thinning black hair. There was something wrong with his face. It jumped from expression to expression almost entirely without transition, one moment frowning, the next with eyebrows raised in disbelief. A second later he would tug his lips down as though profoundly saddened by something Clair had said.
She tried to look Forest in the eyes, not wanting to give the impression that she was hiding anything, but there was something wrong with them, too. They didn’t track. They flicked from place to place with tiny, discrete movements. Flick . . . flick . . . flick. She forced herself to focus on the bridge of his nose instead, where his eyebrows almost met, and tried to concentrate.
His questions were relentless.
“I’m sorry you think I’m repeating myself”—flick—“but it’s vital we know precisely what happened in the space station. You were a captive, yes?”
“A prisoner, you say, of this man?”
An image of Ant Wallace appeared in the default PK-blue wallpaper of her lenses. The man who had until recently been in charge of d-mat looked just as ordinary and trustworthy as he always had, but it was a mask that meant nothing now. Clair had seen the man behind it, the man who had drawn her into a trap and threatened to kill her friends and destroy her life if she didn’t give him what he wanted. He had forced her to desperate ends that even now she could barely believe.
Apart from that image, her infield was empty, a blank window in her field of vision that would normally be filled with bumps, news feeds, and chat requests. She was still completely disconnected from the Air, and no one would tell her when that was going to change.
“Yes,” she said, adding for the tenth time, “Ant Wallace took me prisoner.”
“Was this person also present?”
The photo of Wallace was replaced by another image, this time of a woman Clair didn’t know. Thick, black hair, Asian heritage like Forest.
“I don’t think so,” Clair said. “No, wait . . . is that Mallory Wei?”
“It is.” Flick. “How did you know?”
“Something about the eyes.” Mallory was Ant Wallace’s wife, forced to cycle endlessly through the final stages of suicidal depression because Wallace couldn’t bear to let her go. Her mask wasn’t as complete as her husband’s. Mallory’s eyes held depths of empty despair.
“She was inside Libby’s body. I never saw her real face.”
“Liberty Zeist was also present?” Forest asked.
“No, just her body. I’ve told you a thousand times! Improvement put Mallory in Libby’s head. It killed her, just like it killed everyone else who was Improved. Why aren’t you doing something about that? Why are you asking me all these questions instead of trying to stop the dupes?”
“We are trying to stop them, Clair,” said Forest with an earnest expression she had seen before and didn’t trust. There wasn’t a single thing about him that didn’t scream fake to her. “Every peacekeeper has been mobilized to deal with the situation. But what is the situation? It is not just the failure of d-mat. It is the failure of the Virtual-transport Infrastructure Authority to oversee d-mat. And it is the failure of Ant Wallace to oversee VIA, in turn. He broke the most fundamental law he was obliged to uphold—that no one could ever be killed or injured by d-mat. How was this allowed to happen? We must understand what occurred, and you are at the center of this process, Clair. It is my job to ask the questions that will help me understand you.”
“I’m just here to pretty the place up,” said Sargent. A joke, but Clair didn’t smile.
She looked down at her hands where they rested on the lap of her orange prison jumpsuit. She didn’t know that it was actually a prison jumpsuit, but it was so baggy and characterless and tight around the wrists and ankles that she felt like a prisoner inside it. Her clothes and shoes had been taken away for forensic analysis when she had arrived at the peacekeepers’ New York office, not far from Penn Plaza. Her skin and hair had been sampled for chemical and biological traces. Then Forest and Sargent had turned up and started on her. No one had threatened her; she wasn’t in handcuffs. But it was clear that she couldn’t leave. Not once had she been allowed to talk to anyone else, in person or via the Air. It was just her and them in a room that was effectively a cell, with plastic walls, floors, ceiling, and fixtures, like they hosed it down after every session. The air itself was sterile.
“I’m not at the center of this,” she said.
“Who is, then, if not you?”
“You know who. It’s Q.”
“Who is Q?”
She wanted to rip out her hair. “Qualia and Quiddity? The AIs who were supposed to keep d-mat safe? Wallace did something to them so he could make Improvement work, and that led to Q. I don’t know how. But that’s who she is. She thought she was real, and she is real, but she’s not really . . .”
“Human?” Forest said.
“Define ‘human,’” said Sargent.
“Not like us, whatever she is,” Clair said. “I’m worried about her.”
“Because of what happened in the station?”
“Yes.” Clair dreaded the thought of the interrogation looping back on itself again. You say you lied to Q. You said you’d always be her friend, and then you betrayed her, but she saved you anyway. She brought you back from the dead, breaking parity and the laws of d-mat to do it. Why?
“Are you going to charge me with murder?” she asked, clearing her infield to wipe Mallory’s real face from her mind. She and Turner Goldsmith, leader of the activist group WHOLE, had used grenades to blow up the station and everyone in it, including themselves.
“Why?” Forest asked her. “Do you think you are the same Clair Hill as the one who died in the station?”
“I am the same Clair Hill.”
“Not exactly the same, and not legally the same. You are a copy made from the same pattern as that other version of you, taken the last time you went through d-mat.”
“But I think I’m the same. Doesn’t that mean I’m the same?”
“That’s for the Consensus Court to decide,” said Sargent. “Then there’s the other Clair Hill we have in custody at the moment. Is she you as well?”
“Of course not! She’s a dupe, not a copy—the person inside her isn’t me.”
“But how do we tell you apart if you’re both claiming to be Clair Hill?”
“I don’t know. Ask a lawmaker! Speaking of which, when are you going to let me talk to one?”
“Just as soon as someone makes the decision that you officially exist,” said Forest. He leaned a fraction closer, his expression not threatening but not reassuring, either. His eyes held a challenge.
Clair put her head in her hands. It hurt, and not just because of the harsh white lights that had been glaring down at her for hours. Her thoughts kept coming back to the same problems, over and over again, and they were no less harrowing and exhausting than the interview. Wallace had stolen her best friend’s mind. He had threatened her mother. He had to go. But there had been other people on the space station when it had blown up—his partners in crime, his minions—and she couldn’t forget them. She couldn’t forget what she had done. She couldn’t stop accusing herself of being even worse than Forest and Sargent were implying.
Murderer. Terrorist. Dupe.
The words made her feel sick inside.
Is that who I am now? Is Clair 3.0 some kind of monster?
“I just want to go home,” she said through her fingers. “I want to talk to my parents. I want to see Jesse. I want . . .”
I want to know that Ant Wallace is dead and what I did wasn’t for nothing.
“I just want d-mat to start working again,” said Sargent. “The rest I can deal with, once that’s fixed.”
Clair raised her head. Great, she thought. Another thing on her conscience.
“If I don’t exist,” she said, “how can I possibly help you with anything?”
Forest smiled.
“Good point, Clair. Excuse me. I will be back in a moment.”
He stood briskly and walked to the door. It opened for him and he was gone without a backward glance.

Story - "Wolf's Clothing:

Simon took as much care as anyone could have, but he knew the peacekeepers would catch him eventually. He was, therefore, quite ready for them when they came bursting through the front door of his apartment in Queens, weapons drawn.
There was no point erasing the evidence. Obviously they knew what he had done. Perhaps they had dubbed him the Cancer Killer, or the Tumor-nator, either of which he would be happy with since he targeted the morally weak and corrupt, the rot of society. His tally stood at only one so far, murdered from the inside out by genes subtly tweaked in transit, but his work had only just begun. There would be more.
It was amazing what you could do with a matter transmitter, given the know-how and the will.
Simon was in his secret back room when the PKs came for him. He didn’t need to lift a finger. At the unplanned intrusion the door slammed shut between him and them, and a rising whine drowned out their demands. The room was a d-mat booth in disguise. He smiled as the machines went to work, taking him apart and taking him far away.
He blinked--
--and found himself in another body entirely, that of an elderly woman with aching knuckles and a full bladder. He wouldn’t have chosen this destination, but that was the entire point. His escape had to be random in order to avoid being traced. The concealed booth had removed his mind from his body and inserted it into the wider transport system, where it had been swapped for another entirely by chance, belonging to someone who happened to be travelling at exactly that moment. Back in his apartment, the PKs were probably kicking down the door and arresting a very startled woman now trapped in his own abandoned shell.
That would keep them busy. But he couldn’t afford to be complacent.
“Protocol Thirteen,” he told the booth, avoiding meeting the eye of his temporarily borrowed body. The booth was a standard one, mirrored on every surface, sending images of his stolen face to infinity. The code words were immediately detected by the worm he had planted in the system, which repeated the process.
Another blink--
--and he was inside a tall man who badly needed to sneeze.
“Ah-choo! Protocol Thirteen.”
This time a young boy holding the hand of his mother. His palms were sweating, probably out of nerves. Simon remembered being scared on his first jump too. Not without reason, he supposed now. There were bad people out there, wanting to do children harm. Was he now one of them . . . ?
No. And there was no time for regret, he told himself firmly. This could all be fixed later, given the chance. He had no way of knowing exactly what was happening back in his apartment, but at some point soon the PKs would be on the move again, bringing in the person they might still mistakenly think of as “him”. The more he jumped, the more likely he was to end up where he wanted.
“Protocol Thirteen,” he said in his temporary little-boy voice.
“What’s that, darling?” asked the boy’s mother, but the booth was already working around them, and he was on his way.
Seventeen jumps it took. Seventeen jumps before the protocol delivered him to a booth in which he was standing next to his own body. He stared at it in wonder and triumph. Perfect! His former shell was hunched, utterly broken, shackled by a short length to his new wrist. Red-rimmed eyes stared blankly at the ground.
Only with the greatest effort did he stifle a laugh. This was precisely where he needed to be--inside the body of a peacekeeper investigating his own crimes! Now, all he had to do was sweep up the trail he’d left behind, and after a suitable interval begin cleansing the world once more.
Grinning, he looked at the mirror in front of him, keen to see what he looked like now.
And saw his own face staring back at him.
He looked glanced at the figure beside him, then back into the reflection. Definitely him, both times. He was shackled to himself, the pair of them reflected over and over again, forever. And the eyes of his original body really were empty. There was no one in there at all.
“Protocol Thirteen!”
His cry came too late. The mirror was splitting, the booth opening, and there were the peacekeepers in a wall in front of him, weapons pointing at him, not the empty husk at his side. Simon backed up until he was pressed against the mirrored glass, unable to run any further, but not yet able to admit defeat either. How had they known? How?
A short man with Asian features pressed forward, closely followed by a giant of a woman with short blond hair, who cut the tether between him and his hollow double, the lure that had been his undoing.
“Look at that surprised face,” the woman said, tugging him roughly out of the booth. “Can I tell him, Inspector?”
“I see no reason not to, PK Sargent.”
The blonde woman grinned down at Simon. “You have to get up a whole lot earlier than this to catch us off guard. DNA corruption, duplication, interpolation--we’ve seen it all before. Three times this month alone. How does that make you feel?”
Three times, Simon echoed in his mind. He hadn’t known. If he had, he might have been more careful. But . . . that was the whole point. Of course.
He closed his eyes and wished he could die.
“Heaven help us,” said the blond as they led him away, “if these lone crusaders ever start talking to each other . . .”

PKs Forest and Sargent feature in Crashland. For more Twinmaker tales, click here.

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