In reading the sci-fi novella Killing Gravity, the first book in Corey J. White’s VoidWitch Saga, I was reminded of both Star Wars and the video game Destiny. But in talking to White about the second book, Void Black Shadow (paperback, Kindle), he not only didn’t mention either as being influences on this new novella, but he didn’t cite any movies, TV shows, games, or even other books as having an impact on his science fiction space opera story.
As you may remember, I always like to start with a short plot summary. So, what is the VoidWitch Saga about, what is Void Black Shadow about, and how does Void Black Shadow connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the first book, Killing Gravity?
Mars Xi is the most powerful voidwitch in the galaxy. Created and trained to be a telekinetic super soldier, Mars went rogue when she was a child and has been on the lam ever since. In Killing Gravity, MEPHISTO — the people who trained Mars — finally caught up to her, leaving her no choice but to stop running and delve back into her past.
Void Black Shadow picks up a few months after Killing Gravity. MEPHISTO have taken one of Mars’ few friends as both punishment and leverage, and the only way Mars can possibly save them is by putting herself in harm’s way.
It’s a more political book than the first, and while it still takes place on the outskirts of the galaxy, I’ve been able to explore more aspects of imperial society and the systems of control employed by MEPHISTO and the empire.
Where did you get the idea for Void Black Shadow, and how different is the finished novella from that initial concept?
I always conceived of Void Black Shadow as a direct follow-up, so the seed was planted when I first wrote Killing Gravity. When I was outlining the book, it went through a few different iterations, but I always knew how it was going to end.
Killing Gravity was a sci-fi space opera. Is that also the case with Void Black Shadow, or is there another subgenre of science fiction, or combination of them, that describes this book better?
No, I’d say Void Black Shadow still fits neatly into the space opera sub-genre, though there’s also a good dose of what could only be called body horror thrown in for good measure.
Are there any writers or stories that had an influence on Void Black Shadow, but not on Killing Gravity?
Not really. One of the good things about writing a sequel is that so much of the universe already exists inside your skull.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or video games; did any of them have an impact on Void Black Shadow?
The biggest influence on Void Black Shadow is actually an audio performance piece put together by Gregory Whitehead. It’s called On The Shore Dimly Seen, and is based on the leaked documents pertaining to the “no-touch” torture techniques approved by Donald Rumsfeld and used at Guantanamo Bay. It flows between these oddly performed interview transcripts and a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” that’s both grating and beautiful. I found it to be highly affecting and disturbing, and it still haunts me nearly two years after I first heard it.
In our previous interview about Killing Gravity [which you can read here], you said the VoidWitch series was a trilogy, but that you also had plans for a spin-off series. Is this still the case?
The VoidWitch Saga will indeed be a trilogy. The third book is written, and we’re just getting into the editing process now. It’s scheduled for release at the end of 2018, but I won’t have an exact date until we’re a bit closer.
I’ve already written the spin-off, which is a novel-length book following some of the characters introduced in Void Black Shadow. It’s more of the classic space opera, with characters on both sides of a war between the empire and the resistance. Now I just have to hope that the full VoidWitch trilogy is well-received and I can get this book published. Though, in the meantime, I’ve already started working on the next couple of projects.
Obviously, if someone is interested in this series, they should buy Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow now. But is there any reason they should wait until the third is out and then read them in rapid succession? Or not?
I like to think that each book is self-contained enough that people won’t need to hold off. While there are narrative threads to be picked up in the next book, neither Killing Gravity nor Void Black Shadow end with a cliff-hanger of any sort, so readers should find them satisfying.
Going back to our previous interview, at the time you said there hadn’t been any interest in adapting Killing Gravity or the VoidWitch Saga into a movie, TV show, or video game. Has that changed?
The only thing that’s really changed there is that I’m now represented by Martha Millard at Sterling Lord Literistic, so she’s the one having those conversations for me. But no, nothing to announce yet, though of course these things move very slowly.
You also said in that earlier interview that you thought the VoidWitch Saga would work best as an anime. So if someone enjoys Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow what anime would you suggest they watch while waiting for the third book to come out?
I’m not much of an anime aficionado. It’s more that I think the medium could work really well for the type of ultraviolence and the scale of destruction present in the books. So I doubt I’ll be able to suggest anything that a big anime fan isn’t already aware of. But I recently watched BLAME!, which I thought was fantastic, and Redline has some incredible and entirely hand-drawn art. Also, the first season of Psycho-Pass has some really interesting ideas.
And then obviously there are such classics as Ghost In The Shell, Cowboy Bebop and Akira. I also recently re-read the manga of Akira, which blew my mind all over again. With these three combined you’ve got actually got something resembling the VoidWitch Saga: telekinetic carnage, cyberpunk transhumanism, and a found family spaceship crew made up of misfits.