Monday, September 17, 2018

Edward Willett Author Interview

Photo Content from Edward Willett

Edward Willett is an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and non-fiction for both children and adults.

Born in Silver City, New Mexico, Willett lived in Bayard, New Mexico and Lubbock and Tulia, Texas, before moving to Weyburn, Saskatchewan with his family when he was eight years old.

He studied journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, then returned to Weyburn as a reporter/photographer for the weekly Weyburn Review, eventually becoming news editor. In 1988 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, as communications officer for the Saskatchewan Science Centre, and in 1993 he became a fulltime freelance writer. He still resides in Regina.

Willett is now the author or co-author of more than 40 books, ranging from computer books and children's non-fiction books to science fiction and fantasy for both adults and young adults.

His science fiction novel Marseguro (DAW Books) won the 2009 Aurora Award for best English-language science fiction or fantasy book by a Canadian author. He has also won a Saskatchewan Book Award for his YA fantasy Spirit Singer. He has been nominated for the Aurora Award and Saskatchewan Book Awards multiple times.

His most recent novels include the Masks of Aygrima trilogy, YA/adult crossover novels published by DAW books and written as E.C. Blake, and the five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, published by Coteau Books. He's also the author of the Peregrine Rising duology for Bundoran Press (Right to Know and Falcon's Egg).

Other novels include SF novel Lost in Translation (DAW Books), Terra Insegura (sequel to Marseguro, DAW Books), Magebane (DAW Books, written as Lee Arthur Chane), YA SF novels Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, Andy Nebula: Double Trouble, and The Chosen; and YA ghost story The Haunted Horn. 2016 will see a new YA fantasy, Flames of Nevyana, from Rebelight Books.

His non-fiction titles run the gamut from science books for children on topics as diverse as Ebola Virus and the Milky Way to local history books like Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw for Red Deer Press, awarded a Municipal Heritage Award by the City of Regina in the education category and A Safe and Prosperous Future: 100 years of engineering and geoscience achievements in Saskatchewan, published by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS). He's also written biographies for children of Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Andy Warhol, Orson Scott Card, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Ayatollah Khomeini.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Silver City, New Mexico. When I was eight years old my family moved to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, from Tulia, Texas (before that, we’d lived in Lubbock). I grew up in Weyburn and started my writing career there as a newspaper reporter at, and eventually editor of, the weekly Weyburn Review, but in 1988 I moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, as communications officer for the then-fledgling Saskatchewan Science Centre. I’ve lived in Regina ever since. Since 1993 I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
My flippant answer is, “Marry an engineer. I did.” More seriously...learn to write, and be willing to write, absolutely everything. I love writing science fiction and fantasy, but I’ve also written everything from computer books to children’s science books to Genetics Demystified for McGraw Hill to biographies of Jimi Hendrix and Andy Warhol and the Ayatollah Khomeini to a history of the Saskatchewan Mining Association’s Emergency Mine Rescue Competition. As I believe Robert A. Heinlein said, “Specialization is for insects.”

But that’s just the way I’ve done it. Your mileage may vary.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
In high school, I wrote three novels: The Golden Sword in Grade 10, Ship from the Unknown in Grade 11, and Slavers of Thok in Grade 12. I typed them up and shared them with my classmates and realized I could tell stories other people wanted to read...and realized that was what I most wanted to do, even though I had a myriad of other interests, from music to theatre to art to science. I chose to study journalism at university, realizing even then that it was difficult to make a living as fulltime writer. But all the time I was writing school board reports and features about local pastors and everything else that went with being a newspaper reporter, I was writing science fiction and fantasy, with the never-wavering goal of becoming a published author. So writing, for me, quit being a hobby at about the same time I graduated from high school.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing WORLDSHAPER?
I can’t be too specific, but I was struggling with the ending...and then suddenly it all came together and I blasted through to the end. It’s always great when your brain (in this case with a lot of help from my editor at DAW Books, Sheila E. Gilbert) suddenly finds the way forward and pieces come together into a seamless whole.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?
I’m always excited to meet any author whose work I’ve enjoyed, and I love to talk to them about that work. That’s why I’ve started a new podcast called The Worldshapers (, which features hour-long conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about the creative process. I’ve already talked to Robert J. Sawyer, Tanya Huff, John Scalzi, Julie Czerneda, and Arthur Slade. I’ve tentatively lined up Gareth L. Powell, Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman, and Peter V. Brett. I hope to line up many more. I’m excited to engage with all of them!

Can you tell us when you started WORLDSHAPER how that came about?
I think the ideas that turned into Worldshaper were knocking around in my head four or five years ago, as I finished the Masks of Agyrima trilogy for DAW books and was thinking about future projects. The very next book was The Cityborn, which came out in hardcover and ebook formats in August 2017 and was released in mass-market paperback just a little over a month before Worldshaper’s release date, but Worldshaper was definitely already in my mind while I was writing The Cityborn. I wrote an initial few pages which bear almost no resemblance to the finished book: yes, the main character was a potter, and there was a mysterious stranger, but it all took place in a small medieval village in a deep valley. I refined it considerably from there and was thrilled when DAW agreed to take it.

The inspiration? As I noted, I’m fascinated by the creative process. We often talk about books being gateways to other worlds, and the authors of those books being the builders or shapers of those worlds. Worldshaper runs with that idea: it takes place in a Labyrinth of worlds, whose Shapers have crafted them to be whatever they want. Unlike authors, though, the Shapers of these worlds live within them. (Authors do that, too, but we get to leave for the real world. In Worldshaper, the Shapers are physically present in their worlds, to live out their lives there.) I realized that with this concept, I could potentially write any kind of book I wanted, depending on the world Shawna visits. I could write a film noir thriller, a western, a vampire story...anything at all. It’s what makes Doctor Who such a great concept: any world I can imagine, I can write about within the context of this series.

What part of Shawna did you enjoy writing the most?
Definitely her sense of humour. Since her sections are in first-person, she can make jokes. Oddly enough, her sense of humour is my sense of humour!

What book would you recommend for others to read?’
Of any sort? The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which launches the Flavia de Luce series of mystery novels, set in a small town in England shortly after the Second World War and featuring a remarkable eleven-year-old sleuth and chemical genius. They’re by Alan Bradley.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Winning Canada’s Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English for Marseguro at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal in 2009, with my DAW publishers, Sheila Gilbert and Betsy Wollheim, at the ceremony. Also, I got kissed by Robert J. Sawyer after I won. How many authors can say that?

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d introduce Mara, from the Masks of Agyrima trilogy (written as E.C. Blake for DAW Books) to Ariane, the heroine of my young adult fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur (Coteau Books.) They’re both fifteen, and they both have magic, and they both face struggles because of it. I think they’d hit it off, once Mara got over that whole I’m-from-a-medieval-world-and-you’re-from-the-21st-century thing.

What is your favorite restaurant in town and why?
In Regina, my favorite restaurant is The Willow on Wascana, at least in the summer, when you can sit out on the great deck and look over Wascana Lake with the Saskatchewan Legislative Building across the water.

What was the best prank you ever pulled off?
At the Weyburn Review, one drought-stricken year when our publication date fell on April Fool’s Day, we published a photo of perfectly ordinary railway tank cars, claiming they were full of water being shipped out west by concerned residents of Ontario, much like they’d sent apples during the Great Depression. “Although the water is from Lake Ontario,” we wrote, “it’s perfectly safe.” The photo was credited to April Fool.

Rural municipality and town councils actually took this up as an agenda item, to talk about how stupid it was. Proof, if it was needed, that nobody reads the fine print.

Tell me something about you that most people don't know
I have twice performed on stage in drag, once portraying Queen Victoria, and once as the mother in the ballet La fille mal gardée, a role traditionally played by a man.

What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
Working at the Weyburn Inland Grain Terminal, sweeping grain dust out of several floors of the structure, shoveling up rotting grain at the bottom of the legs, and “Coopering” box cars (putting a reinforced carboard barrier over the door so they could hold grain) in 90-degree heat. That job helped convince me I had made the right decision, focusing on writing!

Where can readers find you?
My main website is The Worldshapers podcast is at I’m on Twitter @ewillett and on Facebook at

From an Aurora Award-winning author comes the first book in a new portal fantasy series in which one woman's powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions.

For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She's just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She's in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends.

But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They're about to kill Shawna. She can't believe it's happening--and just like that, it isn't. It hasn't. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna's friend never existed...

Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna's shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others--if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth's heart.

Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own.

Praise for EDWARDS WILLETT's Science Fiction

“Their moral dilemma is only one of the reasons this novel is so fascinating. The Selkie culture and infrastructure is very picturesque and easily pictured by readers who will want to visit his exotic world.” —Midwest Book Review

“Mr. Willett blends science fiction with heavy religious beliefs into a well-written storyline that’s filled with dramatic scenery and character detail. Sci-fi and fantasy fans should find this story full and entertaining.” —Darque Reviews

"An intriguing take on genetic modification.... A very good read." —Night Owl Reviews

“The author was constantly surprising me, which doesn’t happen often, twisting the usual sci-fi conventions into more than just a shoot ‘em up space opera. Edward Willett has created people, personalities with belief systems and misguided judgments who make mistakes in trying to do what they believe is right.” —Boomtron

"Terra Insegura is an action-packed thrill-ride...a novel that knows it is good science fiction and isn't afraid to show fiction at its best." —Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews

You can purchase Worldshaper at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you EDWARD WILLETT for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Worldshaper by Edward Willett.