For this month’s guest author we welcome back Edward Willett. An author and performer from Regina, Saskatchewan, he has authored far over 50 books ranging in genres, styles, and non-fiction. Last year we had him join us to talk about his Master of the World novel. He keeps a frequent podcast titled The Worldshapers which involves conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about the creative process. Let’s welcome Edward back to the blog to discuss his new releases!
Hi Edward Willett, thanks for coming back! You’ve been busy over the past year. What’s new since we last chatted?
Well, let’s see…I wrote The Moonlit World. I was writer-in-residence at the Saskatoon Public Library from September through May (although the last couple of months I was writer-in-residence-in-residence, since it all turned virtual) and worked with more than 70 local authors, conducted workshops, and gave talks and readings. My podcast, The Worldshapers, won the Aurora Award for Best Fan Related Work in October 2019 and was shortlisted again this year. Master of the World was longlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in the Young Adult category and shortlisted for the Fiction Award at this year’s Saskatchewan Book Awards. And in March, I Kickstarted an anthology featuring guests from the first year of my podcast, Shapers of Worlds, which is about to come out in ebook, on September 22, and will be out in print in mid-November. That’s from my own Shadowpaw Press (www.shadowpawpress.com), through which I also published a revised edition of my YA SF novel From the Street to the Stars (originally published as Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star), and released brand-new ebook versions of my five-book YA fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur, orphaned when Coteau Books, the original publisher, went bankrupt. Oh, and I just sold a big new space opera to DAW Books: The Tangled Stars will be out in 2022.
I think that’s the highlights…
The Shapers of Worlds anthology, which was successfully kickstarted, features authors that have been on your podcast. What birthed the idea of this anthology?
Shadowpaw Press, my publishing empire (which consists of me and the cat it’s named for, and I’m not sure which of us is the emperor), is a member of SaskBooks, the association of Saskatchewan publishers. At the 2019 SaskBooks annual meeting in Saskatoon, a Winnipeg publisher came in and gave a presentation on her successful Kickstarting of an anthology, and I thought, “Hey, I know some authors!” It took me a while to build up steam and actually make it happen, but I reached out to my first-year guests and was immensely gratified by how many wonderful authors were willing to take part. (Even those who couldn’t contribute were supportive.) In the end, I ended up with original stories from Tanya Huff, Seanan McGuire, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., John C. Wright, D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, Shelley Adina, and Edward Willett, plus fiction by John Scalzi, David Brin, Julie Czerneda, Joe Haldeman, Gareth L. Powell, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Fonda Lee, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer, a list that includes several bestselling authors and winners of and nominees for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, Aurealis, Ditmar, British Science Fiction Association, and Dragon Awards.
You previously mentioned book 3, The Moonlit World, of the Worldshaper universe was in the works (featuring a world of Werewolves and Vampires). It’s available September 15th, what can you tell readers about this new piece?
Well, my inner working title was always, “Werewolves and Vampires and Peasants, Oh My!” Shawna and Karl find themselves in a world Shaped by someone with a fondness for both those classic horror creatures, and have to try to find the Shapers responsible and gather the knowledge of the world’s making, without getting eaten and/or changed into either a lycanthrope or undead bloodsucker in the process. The world holds surprises for both of them. Shawna becomes more powerful and must face the ethical dilemmas greater power brings. And, of course, as I hope the previous two books were, it’s very funny. There are Star Trek jokes, Star Wars jokes, Buffy jokes (of course), musical theatre references…oddly enough, Shawna shares my sense of humor. Go figure.
The Worldshaper storyline is open-ended, where you and your editor Sheila E. Gilbert worked thoroughly to make sure the universe wouldn’t break down the road. So… what’s after The Moonlit World?
Book 4 is already roughed out and takes place in a film noir world—gangsters and corrupt politicians and all that sort of thing—in a 1930s kind of setting. It might even be a literally black and white world! Whether that comes out from DAW or I put it out myself remains to be seen, depending on sales, but I fully intend to write it.
While working on the third book, you’ve also been busy editing and writing additional books unrelated to the Worldshaper universe. Tell us a bit about these projects.
Well, of course, there’s the Shapers of Worlds anthology mentioned above, which I’ve already talked about. A few months ago, Shadowpaw Press also released From the Street to the Stars. This was originally published in 1999 by Roussan Publishers as Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star. That company’s been gone for a long time, and I finally got around to revising the book and bringing it out afresh, as Book 1 in what is now the Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star series. Book 2, Double Trouble, is written (it was out as an ebook once already), but needs a complete rewrite, which on my list of things to get out relatively soon. I actually have story ideas that could carry that series for several books, but that depends on interest, of course (and time).
Earlier this year, lamentably, Coteau Books, a well-respected literary publisher here in Regina, went bankrupt, orphaning my five-book young-adult fantasy series (three of which were nominated for either the Sunburst or the Aurora Award for Best Young Adult Fiction). I quickly put out brand-new ebook versions of the series and will be bringing out new print editions in short order. Book 1 of that series is Song of the Sword, if you want to search it out!
I’m currently close to finalizing a new young adult science fiction novel to be released through Shadowpaw Press. Star Song has an interesting history: it grew out of one of the first short stories I sold, “The Minstrel” (included in my collection Paths to the Stars, also from Shadowpaw), and was the first novel I seriously tried to sell. In 1991, I submitted it to Josepha Sherman, then editing for Walker & Company. She sent it back and suggested some revisions, which I made, and sent it to her once again. She got back to me and said I’d done exactly what she wanted and she was “ready to make an offer,” but the company president, Sam Walker, had died, and his son had taken over and decided the company would no longer publish science fiction.
And that was that. The book never did find a home. So, I’m very excited to bring it out, extensively rewritten, with a great cover by Dan O’Driscoll, hopefully by the end of the year.
The other thing I worked on was a proposal for a big, new, sprawling space opera for DAW Books. The Tangled Stars will come out in 2022, and I’ll be plunging into the writing of it pretty soon now.
The Worldshapers podcast has been regarded as an excellent resource for writers (those reading this it should check it out), what made you want to start a podcast?
I began my career as a newspaper reporter, and over the years I’ve hosted my own radio and TV programs and interviewed all sorts of people on all sorts of subjects. I’ve always enjoyed talking shop with other writers, and so…a podcast. Every episode follows the same format: we talk about how the author got interested in writing science fiction and fantasy and how they broke in, then we go through the author’s particular creative process, from idea generation to planning to first draft to revision to editing. At the end, I ask questions like, “Why do you write? Why do any of us write? And why write fantastical fiction in particular?” It’s been great fun to do and I hope listeners enjoy it as much as I do. And I’ve been gratified by the amazing authors who have agreed to talk to me—many of them international bestsellers and major award-winners.
I do want to reiterate a quote from our last interview, this is quite true for all writers and is worth reading again:
“I find there’s a great overlap between being and actor and director and being an author. Actors pretend to be other people; writers do the same. Directors move actors around on stage and guide them in their interactions with each other in order to best tell the story being presented. So do writers.”
Anything else you’d like to add Edward?
Keep reading. And if you like a book, take a minute or two to leave a rating or review on Amazon or Goodreads. Every little bit helps to make a book stand out in today’s crowded literary marketplace.
Thank you for joining us!
You can find Edward through the following links below.
Find The Moonlit World at one of the following distributors.
The critically acclaimed Worldshapers fantasy series continues with The Moonlit World
The Worldshapers fantasy series by award-winning Saskatchewan author Edward Willett continues with the September 15 release of Book 3, The Moonlit World, from New York’s DAW Books, in trade paperback and e-book formats.
The first book in the series, Worldshaper, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was long-listed for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award; Book 2, Master of the World, which just came out in mass-market paperback (it’s also available as a trade paperback, audiobook, or e-book), was also long-listed for the Sunburst Award and short-listed for the Muslims for Peace and Justice Fiction Award at the 2020 Saskatchewan Book Awards.
In The Moonlit World, fresh from their adventures in Master of the World in a world inspired by Jules Verne, Shawna Keys and Karl Yatsar find themselves in a world that mirrors much darker tales. Beneath a full moon that hangs motionless in the sky, they’re forced to flee terrifying creatures that can only be vampires…only to run straight into a pack of werewolves.
As the lycanthropes and undead battle, Karl is spirited away to the castle of the vampire queen. Meanwhile, Shawna finds short-lived refuge in a fortified village, where she learns that something has gone horribly wrong with the world in which she finds herself. Once, werewolves, vampires, and humans lived there harmoniously. Now every group is set against every other, and entire villages are being mysteriously emptied of people.
Somehow, Karl and Shawna must reunite, discover the mysteries of the Shaping of this strange world, and escape it for the next, without being sucked dry, devoured, or—worst of all—turned into creatures of the night themselves.
Beneath the frozen, gibbous moon, allies, enemies, surprises, adventures, and unsettling revelations await.
Praise for The Moonlit World:
“Willett continues to use his innovative worldbuilding to play with genre tropes; there’s a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness to this desolate world that will please fans of dark fiction…entertaining.” – Publishers Weekly
Praise for Master of the World:
“Willett takes full advantage of the fanciful premise to deliver a fun setting populated by fantastic vehicles, mysterious islands, and heroic and villainous characters, all drawn from classic literature….fans will find it contains thrills aplenty.” – Publishers Weekly
“Highly amusing and fun…this series is for fans of any piece or part of geek culture. With the infinite possible worlds in the Labyrinth, every book should be a new, enjoyable adventure.” – Booklist
“Master of the World shows Willett at his world-building best…This page-turner keeps readers of all ages losing track of time as they find themselves pulled further and further into Willett’s tense, challenging, and sometimes funny world.” – the Saskatchewan Book Awards judges
Praise for Worldshaper:
“This novel sets up a fascinating, fluctuating universe with plenty of room for growth for the main characters, and readers will eagerly join their journey.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Willett’s series starter is fun, quirky, and highly enjoyable, nicely laying the groundwork for future volumes.” —Booklist
More about Edward Willett:
Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages. The Moonlit World is his eleventh novel for New York’s DAW Books, one of the world’s major publishers of science fiction and fantasy. He won Canada’s Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW Books), and a Saskatchewan Book Award in 2002 for his young-adult fantasy Spirit Singer, recently re-released by Shadowpaw Press, and has been shortlisted for both awards multiple times. Upcoming works include a young-adult science fiction novel, Star Song, for Shadowpaw Press, and The Tangled Stars, a new space-opera adventure for DAW Books. Willett also hosts The Worldshapers podcast (www.theworldshapers.com), which won the 2019 Aurora Award for Best Fan Related Work, featuring conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process; Shapers of Worlds, a Kickstarted anthology featuring some of the bestselling, award-winning authors who were guests on that podcast during the first year, comes out from Shadowpaw Press in e-book format on September 22 and in print on November 14.