#Interview: Edward Willett & Worldshaper

I am excited to welcome author Edward Willett, who is getting ready to celebrate the release of Worldshaper.

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.

Have you always had an idea as to where the series/novel is going? Do you know where it is going or is the storyline evolving as you write?
I’ve always had a “big picture” notion of where the series is going, and at the same level, I knew what had to happen in the first novel. Details, however, have been subject to a great deal of change. In fact, my first crack at this book was set in a medieval valley. Now it starts in a small modern city. (Although the main character has always been a potter…)

The storyline has definitely evolved as I write. The climactic scene, as it actually plays out, literally caught me by surprise. Again, I knew more or less what needed to happen, but the specific details very much appeared as I wrote.

The storyline also changed during the editing process. One challenge with Worldshaper is that it is intended to set up an open-ended series—it’s the foundation for what could become a very complicated and ornate edifice over time. If the foundation proves shaky, the whole thing could come tumbling down, so my editor, Sheila E. Gilbert, and I spent quite a bit of time talking and thinking about exactly how the technology (which in this book really is indistinguishable from magic, a la Clarke’s Law) works, to ensure we had a structure on which to hang many different types of stories as the series continues.

What kind of reading experience are you hoping to create for your readers? What do you want them to come away from your books saying, thinking, and feeling?
I aim, first and foremost, to entertain, and one of the great things about Worldshaper from my point of view is that the bulk of it is written in first person—which allows me to indulge my sense of humour, which just happens to be pretty the sense of humour of my main character, Shawna Keys. I guess we’ll find out if readers share that sense of humour!

If there’s an overarching theme that runs through all of my books, though, I think it might be summed up as “muddling through.” My characters are often confused about what’s going on, whom to trust, which way to turn. But they push ahead, doing their best, trying to make the right decisions. They make a lot of mistakes, sometimes disastrous ones, but they press on. They never give up, though they may have moments of despair.

So what do I want readers to come away from my books saying, thinking, and feeling? I’d like them to say, “That was fun,” to think “I can’t wait to read the next one,” and to feel, if not uplifted—perhaps that’s too grand—at least reassured that sometimes, things work out, and if you can’t get a happy ending, you can at least get a satisfying one.

Has any of your stories began one way, but by the time you wrote The End, had the mood drastically changed and how did it affect the story?
The closest I think I came to that was in writing Faces, Book 3 in The Masks of Aygrima trilogy (written as E.C. Blake). I had in mind a more conventionally happy ending than it turned out to be. The stories I had written and the world as I had shaped it precluded the ending I’d originally had in mind. The ending as it stands is definitely bittersweet, and some readers have felt that Mara, the main character, deserved better, but it seemed to me the inevitable, logical outcome of everything that had come before.

Is there any particular legend or mythology that you came across that was the root of inspiration for you that was used more than others or was there a wide source?
The great thing about the Worldshapers series is that I literally set it up as a way for me to write any kind of story I wanted to, from Gothic horror to film noir to slapstick comedy. For the first book, I was working largely in an urban fantasy mode, because it takes place in what at first seems to be our world, although it soon becomes clear it isn’t, quite. But as the series continues, stories could take place in literally any sort of world imaginable. So ,you might say my inspiration is, literally, every story ever told.

For my readers unfamiliar with your work, what would you say to convince them to pick up a copy of your book?
How’d you like join a mysterious stranger and a young woman with a wicked sense of humour on a quest that will eventually take them through every sort of world imaginable…provided they can escape the one they’re in now?

What are you working on?  What do readers have to look forward to?
Book 2 of Worldshapers is in the works: it takes the characters into an entirely new world, which readers will get a first taste of at the end of Worldshaper.

Other projects in the works…I’ve written a middle-grade novel called The Fire Boy, based around elementals, which my agent, Ethan Ellenberg, is looking at now. I have another fantasy novel, Blue Fire, under consideration at DAW. It looks like I’ll be writing a young adult horror novel about shape-changers for a Canadian publisher. I’ve been asked to write and direct a play-with-music for Regina Lyric Musical Theatre. I’ve launched my own small publishing business, Shadowpaw Press, which will be bringing out some of my work that has fallen out of print (or has never seen print). And finally, I’ve started a podcast, The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com), featuring hour-long conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process. So far, I’ve interviewed 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, and I’m working on others. The interviews will come out every two weeks. I’m having a great time with it.

When you’re not writing, what are you reading? 
Well, thanks to the podcast, I’m mostly reading books by the guests I’m lining up! I also enjoy historical nonfiction, particularly focused on science and exploration: Chasing New Horizons, about the space probe to Pluto, is on top of that stack at the moment.

Do you have a geek side? Explain with examples.
You mean aside from the fact I write science fiction and fantasy and the very first short story I wrote at age eleven was called “Kastra Glazz: Hypership Test Pilot”? How about the fact that I spent, I would guess, about four hours playing Dungeons and Dragons for every one hour I spent on actual schoolwork in university? Also, you could say I’m a theatre geek: I love musical theatre and will sing show tunes at the drop of a hat. (I’ve performed in dozens of plays and musicals over the years, both professionally and just for fun.)

Do you have a process of how you start to write one of your novels?  Is it the same or different with each novel you write?
I do a four- to five-page synopsis, and then I have this weird system where I start at the beginning and type words until I reach THE END. Whether what I write bears much resemblance to the synopsis depends on the story; I tend to only refer to the synoopsis if things are going badly and I seem to have written myself into a dead end. This is pretty much the process I’ve followed for every book I’ve ever written, starting with my very first novel, The Golden Sword, written when I was fourteen.

How did you feel when you finally saw your first published book out in print?
It was cool. It would have been cooler had it been a science fiction novel and not Using Microsoft Publisher for Windows 95. (My second published book was Using Microsoft Publisher for Windows 97.) But while it was exciting, I was used to seeing my byline in print, because I started my career as a newspaper reporter and editor, so the thrill was perhaps a bit less for me than for some.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you have to have with you?
You mean besides food, water, and shelter? Or a radio transmitter, a GPS unit, and a boat-building kit?

I guess…some means of playing music (and some means of charging the device that plays the music), an ebook reader packed with thousands of titles (including, one would hope, The Complete Dummies’ Guide to Surviving on a Desert Island) and, again, some means of charging said ebook reader; and a telescope, because the seeing is probably pretty good and the night sky spectacular way out there without light pollution.

If you could be one urban fantasy creature/person/magical thing, what would you be and why?
A wizard, provided I was in a world whose fantasy system was not designed to extract a horrible toll from those who dare to dabble in the magical arts. I’ve always wanted to snap my fingers and make things happen just the way I want them to, without effort.

Probably the theatrical director in me.

Meet Edward Willett!

Edward Willett is an award-winning author with more than 60 books, ranging from computer books and other nonfiction titles for both children and adults, to science fiction and fantasy for all ages. 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.

Besides being a writer, Willett is a professional actor and singer who has performed in dozens of plays, musicals and operas in and around Saskatchewan, hosted local television programs, and emceed numerous public event

Edward can be found on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Amazon

If you haven’t read Edward Willett before, here’s what you’ve been missing:
The Cityborn
Terra Insegura
Paths to the Stars: Twenty-two Fantastical Tales of Imagination
I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust
Song of the Sword (Shards of Excalibur #1)
Flames of Nevyana
Falcon’s Egg
Spirit Singer
Right to Know

About Jackie 3277 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.