Where Am I Published?

Sci-fi Book Release: “Binary Stars” – Androids, Enlightenment, and Gender, Oh My

Binary Stars available in paperback or eBookHello all you strange and dear people somewhere out there in the vast, sprawling web of intangible interconnectedness. It’s always tricky to write about a new book release, because I am rather allergic to self-promotion, and while I want readers out there to experience the book, it is hard for me to try and sell you anything. So instead of crafting a half-hearted sales pitch, I am going to try and just be authentic and talk a little bit about my process writing this little-big sci-fi novel that is so important to me. Maybe you’ll get something out of hearing a little about my journey and maybe you’ll relate to some of it.

I started out writing Binary Stars at some point in 2017 as a loose sequel to my first novel, The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence. Back then the book was this huge, sprawling thing beginning with the vastest world-building I had ever attempted—not only did I have to develop two entirely new species from which my main characters would stem—I had to invent an entire planet!—complete with its flora, fauna, societies, religions, and economic structure. It was a much more ambitious undertaking than anything I had written so far—so much had to be unearthed directly from my imagination and from research rather than relying on the easy satire of the near-future, or fictionalized versions of places I had visited. I often doubted if I was up to the task—there was so much to keep track of. Still, I kept plodding away at it and crafted an unusual narrative of love and malfunction between Jensun—a translucent, bigender farmer with depressive tendencies stemming from his residual guilt from his previous lifetime as a charismatic and insidious cult leader (a.k.a. Janus Jeeves of Saint Fox and The Independence), and VV—a biosynthetic android with a sharp tongue and a penchant for installing illegal software updates into themselves that end up triggering an “accidental” electronic enlightenment. The back cover copy goes on to tell you that Jensun and VV work together at a high-tech agricultural facility called mTac, that Jensun is reluctantly placed under VV’s supervision, and oh, that a global frost is threatening to destroy the planet—because even if this story is really about reincarnation, the metaphysical reality of our true nature, and finding love where you least expect it—it is still Sci-Fi!

So, why did it take me until 2022 to release this book into the wild? Well, shortly after releasing Saint Fox, I got into grad school, and let me tell you, if you think your creative writing MFA is going to give you time to work on your novel, you may be surprisingly mistaken. I did workshop some of it, and got some incredible feedback from my peers, but the length of my thesis would not accommodate a full novel, the workshop format better accommodated short stories, and the program itself, while masquerading as one open to different types of work, was not terribly accommodating to speculative fiction work—although I did find some support among peers and faculty alike, and their responses to what they saw of this book were overwhelmingly positive. Not to mention I had a huge work load from both teaching and taking classes, and then graduated in 2020 into a pandemic, followed by a new job as a university professor and a move to a different city.

Now, even without the snafus, a book taking five years to get published is hardly unheard of. And I’m particularly proud of this one, as I not only wrote the book but curated the entire experience from start to finish. I had worked with a small press before on my previous release, but also have years of graphic design experience under my belt and really wanted to be involved in every step of the process—nothing makes me geek out like selecting fonts for the layout of a book or getting the hair’s breadth of white space around an em dash just right—I knew I could create a stunning book, this time for myself rather than others. With my spoon in every pot on the stove (apologies for the metaphor I was trying to avoid saying “with my fingers in every pie…”), I feel I can truly be proud of the end result—a sweet, sad, funny, and edgy story in a galaxy far, far away that I truly believe in and that shares my unique vision of the world more vividly, honestly, and chaotically than anything else I have put out into the world so far.

I am so happy to share it with you.

Binary Stars by Kristin Yuan Roybal can be purchased in paperback or eBook on Amazon or at your favorite retailer. ISBN: 9798817267570.

– Kristin

Where Am I Published?

“Separation Theory” Out in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet

My first short story published under my multiracial, gendered legal name (Kristin Yuan Roybal, as opposed to my ambiguous pen name Corin Reyburn), is out now in Issue 42 of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, the speculative fiction magazine carefully and lovingly crafted by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link. This story happens to be the opening piece of my MFA thesis, and is a short and strange tale about star-crossed love, particles, remembering and forgetting, and bittersweetness. It is available through Small Beer Press as a print zine or ebook, and features fellow writers Sarah Langan, Vandana Singh, Stewart Moore, Jack Larsen, Holly Day, and Nicole Kimberling.

I’ve come a long way. Thanks for being there with me.

– Kristin/Corin

Flash Fic (blog self-pub)

The Art of Physics

073A series of five connected flash fiction pieces that have been sitting around since before I began my MFA. I’ve decided to publish them here.

The Art of Physics

Matter – Atoms – Molecules

Kenso stands on the bank of a sea where the water has no color, the sand beneath his feet the same. Clear as glass. Weightless as light.

He has stood on the bank of every sea on earth, and here is the only spot where all colors are absent. On the Southern tip of Africa the seas were a summer green. Off the coasts of the Mediterranean isles, a teal mirror. In the biting lands of the Arctic the waters were grey.

He has travelled many years to find this exact spot. He crouches down, cups his hands in the water, lifts. As always, the water comes out clear. Wherever the water is green, where it is blue, where it is red—it never matters, for whenever he touches it, the color disappears.

Here the water does not lie, does not pretend to be something it is not. Here not only is the water colorless, but the drape of the sky and the distant bodies pinned against it do not appear, do not hint at something he can see, but never reach. The expanse above where the sky might hang is not even black, it is not any other non-color—it is simply not there.

Kenso wonders if there is oxygen on the bank of this shore. The absence of sky must mean the absence of atmosphere. He does not feel the ebb and flow of his own breath, but he does not suffocate.

In this moment, he tries to remember the faces of ones once important to him. He sees the faces, can pull out distinct features—a plump lip, thick eyebrow, all painted in colors like the sea and sky. He lets the images float through his mind as though watching a passing sailboat.

The water in the sea changes shape. A sphere, a star, now a bird—a phoenix, symbol of fire and rebirth. The water phoenix spins in a circular motion, then dissolves back into the sea.

The sea is clear, his hands before his eyes are clear. Hands as formless as the water. His body is bright light. Light with no color.

The sea dances into a river, takes him along with it. Past many wavering shorelines, through thick forests, above the highest mountains. Color, color everywhere. Bright bright light and blackest dark. His lungs expand as he drinks it all in waves.

Before his eyes now, a colorless fire. He breathes.

And the fire catches the water.

Motion – Force – Gravity

He walks along the ceiling to sit in a chair that has been freshly stuffed. Faux leather upholstery, black and sticky. Sips a drink—amber liquid with two large ice cubes.

Continue reading “The Art of Physics”

The Writing Process

Writing Heart Drunk

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A friend of mine has this quote oft attributed to Hemingway framed on her wall: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” While I’m not much use writing drunk and do most of my writing and editing sober (though the occasional glass of wine, can, of course, spark sheer brilliance at times), there is something to be said about the parts of our brain, our hearts, our spirits, everything that makes us, that get kicked into high gear during these seemingly contrasting components of the writing process: writing and editing.

When my writing is at its best, I am writing from the heart. I am expressing something universal that I’ve always known is there, and I am not thinking about it too hard. A meditation teacher in a group I attend was recently discussing the idea that the heart has a brain—how the heart, in essence, has thousands more neurons than the brain, and these neurons can sense, feel, and learn. As I am a science fiction writer and not a scientist, I often share pseudo-scientific information I find fascinating, so feel free to research this on your own and try to debunk it if you must—but the idea that the heart knows things, and even more, knows things innately that the brain would have to think hard about to understand, is something we’re all familiar with.

My writing is most enjoyable—and I believe most successful—when I’m not really thinking about it, when I’m writing from my heart and spirit.

In contrast, editing is an experience of the inferior head-brain, a left-brain exercise that can feel more like math than art. It is a labor of love, but make no mistake, it is labor. It may be different for you—I know some writers who love editing. For me, yes, there are moments of clarification, even wow moments within the editing process, but for the most part, it is Work. It is spending ten minutes wondering whether to leave in or remove a comma. It is moving a paragraph or chapter to a different spot, connecting the pieces, then moving it back again. It is realizing a character’s dialogue isn’t realistic, or that the character lacks the catalyst to perform the action they are doing.  It is reading through your entire manuscript for the fifteenth time as the words on the page began to blur, it is tossing and turning in bed, it is solving plot problems in the shower, it is self-doubt, it is asking ‘why am I doing this?’

Is it, perhaps, because of love?

Yes, it is.

I love writing.

But I do not love editing. I edit because I love writing.

Writing gets me drunk on love, gets me into a heart space. It keeps me sober, keeps me wide-eyed, keeps me on my toes, keeps me learning.

So I put in the work. I put in the time.

It’s what we do for the things we love.

SubverCity Transmit, Where Am I Published?

Berlin Ben’s Big Night Out on SubverCity Transmit

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The latest episode of SubverCity Transmit, the podcasting brainchild of myself and co-conspirator Erin B. Lillis, features a short story of mine called Berlin Ben’s Big Night Out, previously published by The Subtopian. This episode is hopefully timely as we welcome individuals of all colors, genders, etc., to join us down in the SubverCity Station.

Whoever you are, whatever you are, and wherever you are in space-time, come on down and enjoy this tale of a gender-bending mad scientist getting his night in the moon. A one-off short story set in the cold, neon-lit world of Subterran.

Interviews, Where Am I Published?

SUBTERRAN in Top 25 for JukePop’s 2016 Summer Writing Project

subterran_cover_art2UPDATE: JukePop appears to be no more, so any links here to Subterran are darker than its clubs on a lo-power cold-day shutdown. My plan for this bad boy is to most likely republish it via Wattpad. Stay tuned.

The aforementioned SUBTERRAN has been included in the Top 25 for JukePop’s Summer Writing Project this year. JukePop is partnering with cultural arts promoters and publishers 1888 to select one of these 25 novellas based on July’s reader analytics (retention + reading time) for publication. Head on over to JukePop to get your hallucinatory, bio-enhanced fix and show some support. Votes, comments, and time spent reading will increase the odds of getting published and are greatly appreciated.

1888 is also conducting a series of podcast interviews from those involved in the Summer Writing Project. You can check out mine here, where I talk with 1888’s Dean Moses about the writing process and why I love science fiction in an episode of their podcast The How The Why.

best,
Corin