Thursday, January 13, 2022

Edward Willett Interview - Shapers of Worlds Volume II


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.

        



When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
Like most writers of science fiction and fantasy, I started out as a reader. In our public library in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, every science fiction and fantasy book bore a bright-yellow sticker on the spine, featuring a stylized atom with a rocketship for a nucleus. I methodically worked my way along the shelves until I’d read most of the books thus marked, which included, not just novels, but short-story collections, some by one author, many by multiple authors; some offering original fiction, others reprints.

Inspired (or possibly corrupted) by my reading, I tried my own hand at writing science fiction when I was eleven years old, producing my first complete short story: “Kastra Glazz, Hypership Test Pilot.” My course was clearly set: I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy ever since.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s not a single experience, but a type of experience: when someone tells me, unsolicited, that they loved one of my books. Especially for my young adult books, when that compliment comes from a young reader. That’s the best.

Can you tell us how SHAPERS OF WORLDS VOLUME II came about?
Shapers of Worlds Volume II is the second volume of an anthology series that began with Shapers of Worlds in 2020. The tale begins in the summer of 2018, when the idea came to me to leverage my experience as an erstwhile newspaper reporter and radio and TV host, and the contacts I had made in the genre, to launch a new podcast, focusing on something I love to talk about: the creative process of crafting science fiction and fantasy.

I researched the making of podcasts, decided on a hosting service, set up a website, got the necessary software and equipment, and then reached out to possible guests—and was thrilled by how many fabulous authors said, “Sure, I’ll talk to you.” That willingness spanned the writing-career spectrum from legends of the field and international bestsellers to folks who are just getting started, from writers for adults to writers for young adults and children, from hard SF writers to writers of epic fantasy. The Worldshapers podcast took off with a bang (and continues—I’m now into my fourth year, with Episode 100 going live on the first weekend of 2022), even winning an Aurora Award (Canada’s top science fiction award) for Best Fan Related Work in 2019.

In April 2019, at the annual meeting of SaskBooks, the association of Saskatchewan publishers of which I’m a member (and currently serving on the board) by virtue of owning Shadowpaw Press, a guest speaker talked about her success at Kickstarting anthologies.

Hey, I thought. I know some authors . . .

And thus, the anthology idea was born. I spun my wheels a bit at first—I’d never tried a Kickstarter and the challenges seemed daunting, and, of course, I had other writing and publishing commitments. But I garnered great advice from my fellow DAW Books author Joshua Palmatier, who has successfully Kickstarted numerous anthologies through his company, Zombies Need Brains, LLC, and more great advice from my fellow Saskatchewan author Arthur Slade, who has successfully Kickstarted a graphic novel, and, of course, it’s not like there’s a shortage of advice online (too much, maybe, since some of it is contradictory). At any rate, in the end, I screwed my courage to the sticking-place, rolled up my metaphorical shirtsleeves, and set to it.

I reached out to my first-year guests (an arbitrary decision to keep the length manageable) and asked if they’d be interested in contributing either an original story or a reprint. Many were. (Those who couldn’t, due to other commitments, were still highly supportive of the idea.) Many of the contributors, in turn, were very generous in providing backers’ rewards. I built the campaign. It ran over the month of March 2020.

Wait. Something else happened in March 2020. I can’t quite put my finger on it . . . it’ll come to me . . .

Yes, I managed to launch my first-ever Kickstarter campaign concurrent with the start of the worldwide pandemic’s North American tour. Lockdowns, people out of work, fear of what the future would hold . . . not particularly conducive to shelling out money for a collection of science fiction and fantasy, I feared.

And yet . . . people did. I’d aimed for $13,500 Canadian and ended up at $15,700. The book was a go. The stories came in, and in the fall of 2020, the book became a reality.

So, of course, I did it again. In March 2021 I launched my second Kickstarter, for the new anthology, Shapers of Worlds Volume II. The first book had eighteen stories, nine original ones and nine reprints. The new anthology has twenty-four stories: original stories by Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Helen Dale, Candas Jane Dorsey, Lisa Foiles, Susan Forest, James Alan Gardner, Matthew Hughes, Heli Kennedy, Lisa Kessler, Adria Laycraft, Ira Nayman, Garth Nix, Tim Pratt, Edward Savio, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jeremy Szal, and some guy named Edward Willett, plus reprints from Jeffrey A. Carver, Barbara Hambly, Nancy Kress, David D. Levine, S.M. Stirling, and Carrie Vaughn.

In print, it’s well over 500 pages: an amazing collection of fiction from some of the best authors working in science fiction and fantasy today.

And I’ve already started working toward Volume III, with twenty authors already lined up from Year 3 of my podcast and a new Kickstarter in the offing in March 2022.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I ask this question in my podcast, The Worldshapers, all the time, in the form of, “Why do you write? And why science fiction and fantasy in particular?”

Creativity is innate in human beings: its part of the brain. The theological answer is that we are created in the image of God, and since God creates things, so do we. This is Tolkien’s concept of “sub-creation.” As he put it, “We make still by the law in which we’re made.”

Evolutionarily, there’s clearly a survival benefit to being creative, thinking up new ways to do things. Our ancestors survived because they were creative, and that creativity has been handed down. And one of the ways in which we are creative is telling stories, making up things that didn’t really happen but could, for enjoyment, for education, for persuasion, for a million different reasons.

On the most personal level, I write stories because it’s fun. I thinks that’s why most writers write. After all, most writers start as kids, and what do kids do? They play. Writers go from building sandcastles in sandboxes to building castles in fantasy realms. Yes, writing professionally is work . . . but at heart, it’s play.

What is the first job you have had?
First full-time job was as a reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper, the Weyburn Review.

First part-time job was cleaning the school building over the summer.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?

What is your most memorable travel experience?
A six-week choir tour of Western and parts of Eastern Europe in 1987, while the Communists still ruled the east and the Berlin Wall still stood.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Not getting any younger, darn it.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
Study engineering or one of the sciences rather than journalism.


Explore twenty-four imaginative tales crafted by some of today’s best writers of science fiction and fantasy, all guests on Aurora Award-winning podcast The Worldshapers during its second year, including international bestsellers and winners of every major award in the field as well as newer authors just beginning what promise to be stellar careers.

There are brand-new stories from Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Garth Nix, Candas Jane Dorsey, Jeremy Szal, Edward Willett, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Lisa Foiles, Susan Forest, Matthew Hughes, Heli Kennedy, Helen Dale, Adria Laycraft, Edward Savio, Lisa Kessler, Ira Nayman, James Alan Gardner, and Tim Pratt, plus fiction by Jeffrey A. Carver, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Nancy Kress, Barbara Hambly, and S.M. Stirling.

A woman seeking the power to see the evil hiding within others regrets receiving it. Letters written by a wizard in the past threaten a queen’s reign in the present. Competing for Earth, a human wrestler faces an alien shapeshifter in an interstellar tournament. A guide in Tibet must weigh the good of his people when asked to lead a westerner to the fabled realm of Shangri. An activist imprisoned for illegal genetic modification works with the materials at hand and the threads of the multiverse to make the world—a world, at least—a better place. A demonic agent sent to help a human turns the tables on his summoner.

Like the “cabinets of curiosities” created by collectors of the sixteenth century, Shapers of Worlds Volume II displays a varied array of thought-provoking delights: tales of humour and sorrow, darkness and light, and hope and despair that are full of adventure, full of life, and sometimes full of regret. There are stories set in alternate histories, in possible futures, near and far, and in the here-and-now, taking place on Earth, on distant planets, or in fantastic realms. All arise from the innate need of human beings to create, to imagine . . . to shape worlds.

You can purchase Shapers of Worlds Volume II at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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