Tag Archives: ebooks

Interview with Edward Willett

13 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Edward Willett

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction writer and why? How long after than did you have your first fiction sale?

I have two older brothers, both of whom read science fiction, so that was what was in the house when I reached book-reading age (which for me was pretty early: I taught myself to read in kindergarten after our teacher introduced us to phonics). The first science fiction novel I remember reading was Robert Silverberg’s young-adult book Revolt on Alpha C (his first published novel, written when he was nineteen), but it wasn’t long before I was devouring SF. Robert A. Heinlein was unquestionably my favorite, with Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, Zenna Henderson, Arthur C. Clarke, and many others close behind. I read fantasy, too, and loved it as well.

The first complete short story I remember writing came about because a friend and I, when I was about eleven, needed something to do on a rainy day (this being pre-Internet), so we decided to write stories. I don’t know if he finished his, but I finished mine: “Kastra Glazz: Hypership Test Pilot.” (One thing my reading had apparently convinced me of was that science fiction characters had to have weird names.) My mother, who was a secretary, typed it for me, and then I showed it to my Grade 8 English teacher at the Weyburn (Saskatchewan) Junior High School, Tony Tunbridge. He did me the honor of taking it seriously, critiquing it, not just patting me on the head for having written it, but asking why my character did what he did, what the aliens wanted, etc.

I kept writing stories after that, and I tried to make each one better. They got longer and longer, so that by high school, I was writing novels—three of them, one each in Grades 10, 11, and 12: The Golden Sword, Ship from the Unknown, and Slavers of Thok. I shared them with my classmates and discovered I could tell stories people really enjoyed reading, and it was somewhere along in there I decided what I really wanted to be was a science fiction/fantasy writer.

However, I also knew you couldn’t make a living as a writer, at least not right off the bat, so I went into journalism, figuring at least I’d be writing. I wrote newspaper stories during the day and fiction at night and sold my first short story when I was 23 years old—but it wasn’t science fiction: it has a little historical adventure piece about two kids caught in a blizzard in Saskatchewan around 1905, published by Western People, the magazine supplement of The Western Producer, an agricultural newspaper. (Side note: years later, I sold a short story called “Strange Harvest” to Western People, probably the only science-fiction story it ever published.)

My first science fiction sale came not too long after that. “The Minstrel” was published by the now defunct Canadian children’s magazine JAM. It’s a story about a boy on a backward planet who has mysteriously inherited a strange musical instrument that is able to make its listeners feel the player’s emotions. It turns out the instrument is an ancient alien artifact an unscrupulous man will stop at nothing to possess…

The story has a scene where the boy stands outside the fence surrounding the spaceport, staring at the glittering ships standing within, fiercely longing to leave his world and journey to the stars. It’s a longing I knew and know well: the longing that has always driven me to write science fiction and continues to drive me to write science fiction—the desire to explore unknown worlds, and to take my readers along for the ride.

What themes appear most strongly in your writing? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

As I look back over some twenty novels, one theme stands out above all others: the importance of the individual—of individual rights, and of individual responsibility.

An individual may belong to several different groups, but he or she is not defined by those groups. Each person is a world unto him or herself, full of contradictions and surprises. Each person is living out his or her own story, of which he or she is the protagonist. Each must make his or her own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions.

My protagonists are individuals who find themselves thrust into strange circumstances. They struggle to understand what is happening, to do the right thing, to make things better, to save themselves and others. They often make terrible mistakes along the way, and they may even fail in the end—but they don’t give up.

That, ultimately, is the best any of us can do in our lives.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?

 I’m a combination plotter/pantser. I write fairly detailed synopses—say, five or six single-spaced pages—but I also discover much of the story along the way. In my novel Terra Insegura (published by DAW Books, the sequel to the Aurora Award-winning Marseguro), I introduced a minor viewpoing character primarily because I needed someone in orbit while my other viewpoint characters were down on Earth. But that character soon became central to the plot, to the point where I had to stop about three-quarters of the way through and replot everything to the end, my synopsis no longer being applicable. In my recent novel The Cityborn (also DAW Books), I was about two-thirds of the way through the writing before I finally realized what the book was really about—the theme, not the plot. The actual writing, the interaction of the characters, and the details of the world I’d created, much of it on the fly, came together to reveal something I hadn’t fully grasped when I began drafting the novel.

As host of the podcast The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com), in which I interview other science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative processes, I ask this same question, more or less. Every author’s approach is different, with some doing little outlining and some doing such a detailed outline literally nothing is left to chance during the actual writing. I think the former would be too chaotic and the latter too confining for me, so I’m definitely somewhere in the middle.

I enjoy writing the first draft of books, but I also enjoy rewriting. As per my answer above, I discover things about the story during the drafting that I can then go back and insert or strengthen during the rewriting. Seeing where the characters end up often means changing their dialogue or reactions in the earlier parts of the book. Settings may be modified for the same reason. Sometimes I’ll need to insert new scenes.

All of this is fun, because, basically, I just enjoy writing. I even enjoy copy-editing. In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle sings, “Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words,” but I’m never sick of words. I love them.

And, yes, I do write every day (if you also count rewriting/editing), but I’m not necessarily writing fiction every day. As a full-time freelance writer, I write a lot of non-fiction as well, so what I’m writing from day to day depends on the current projects I’ve taken on and when their deadlines are.

I learned long ago not to depend on a muse: one thing being a newspaper reporter teaches you is that when you sit down at the keyboard, you have to produce, because the newspaper is going to come out no matter what, and you’d better have your story ready to go into it. It’s one reason I think print journalism isn’t a bad place for any wannabe writer to start: better, I honestly think, than a creative writing degree.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

First, read. You cannot write in this genre without reading in this genre (the same is true of any genre, of course). Read the classics, read the newest and hottest bestsellers, read the obscure and forgotten. Find what resonates with you and try to figure out why. Writing a story is a process of encountering and solving problems: establishing character, providing backstory, creating believable dialogue, crafting immersive settings, etc. Seeing how other writers have overcome (or failed to overcome) those problems will help you tackle them yourself.

At the same time, write, write, write. Writing skill is like any other skill—piano playing, figure skating, painting. Practice doesn’t make perfect (because no piece of writing is ever perfect, or at least, there is no piece of writing that is universally accepted to be perfect), but it does make better.

And finally, don’t give up. As many others have pointed out, quite often the biggest difference between those who failed at becoming a writer and those who succeeded is simply that those who succeeded never gave up, no matter how difficult the road.

I guess that’s actually three pieces of advice, but (to paraphrase Dr. McCoy), dammit, I’m a writer, not a mathematician.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Ed and his writing, visit: https://edwardwillett.com/

 

Advertisements

Aurora Book Bundle

6 Jul

The good folks at Story Bundle are offering another ten book collection of Aurora winning or nominated works. A great deal — 10 books for as little as $15.

Our good friend, Doug Smith is curating the bundle so I’ll let him explain it in this guest blog. Doug includes the link in his blog but if we sold you at Aurora Award, you can cut to the chase here.

The Aurora Award Bundle #2

Curated by Douglas Smith

How would you like to own, at an incredible bargain, ten books that readers like yourself have already voted to be the best examples of speculative fiction published in Canada? Well, here’s your chance. I’m once again curating an ebook bundle for StoryBundle.com that contains more winners and finalists for Canada’s premier speculative fiction award, the Aurora Award.

The Auroras are awarded annually by the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association (CSFFA) for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy. The award started in 1980 as the Casper and was renamed the Aurora for the 1990 awards. I’m honored to have won the Aurora three times and to have been on the final ballot another sixteen.

This Aurora bundle again delivers a great mix of SF and fantasy, adult and YA novels, as well as a selection of short fiction. The books included reflect the long history of the Auroras, with titles spanning a quarter century of Canadian speculative fiction from 1992 to 2016.

This time, the bundle provides a great introduction to several wonderful series, including the first book in four separate series and the second book in a series that can be read as a stand-alone title. It also lets you sample the rich tradition of Canadian short speculative fiction, with two acclaimed collections.

In Destiny’s Blood, Marie Bilodeau delivers action, romance, and mystery in an interstellar SF tale of two sisters fighting to save each other—and all life. And it all begins in a flower shop.

E.C. Bell’s Drowning in Amber is a fast-paced paranormal murder mystery featuring amateur detective Marie Jenner who can talk with ghosts.

Druids, by Barbara Galler-Smith and Josh Langston, kicks off a magnificent epic historical fantasy trilogy, set a thousand years ago when the Celts ruled Europe.

D.G. Laderoute’s Out of Time is a YA fantasy adventure combining time travel with First Nations lore as two fourteen-year-old boys—one white, one Anishinabe—join forces across time to battle a monster.

Dave Duncan’s fantasy The Cursed takes place in a fallen empire where a plague leaves its survivors ostracized but with magical powers, powers that might be the key to rebuilding their world.

In Defining Diana, Hayden Trenholm updates the locked room mystery to 2043, where nuclear war, biotechnology, and all-powerful corporations have changed the Earth we know.

Golden Fleece, which was the first novel by Canada’s best known SF writer, Robert J. Sawyer, is an SF mystery set on a colony ship as told by the artificial intelligence controlling the ship.

In Ed Willett’s Marseguro, modified humans on a distant water world finds themselves in a battle for survival with a future Earth ruled by a fanatical theocracy.

Hair Side, Flesh Side, Helen Marshall’s award-winning first collection of short stories, is a brilliant introduction to one of the brightest new lights in Canadian speculative fiction.

Finally, my own collection, Impossibilia, delivers a mix of SF and fantasy, including an Aurora winner, a finalist, and the story prequel to my novel, The Wolf at the End of the World.

And if you are looking for still more pedigree, the bundle includes two CSFFA Hall of Fame inductees (Sawyer and Duncan).

– Douglas Smith

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you feel generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of five books in any ebook format worldwide:

  • Destiny’s Blood by Marie Bilodeau
  • Drowning in Amber by E. C. Bell
  • Druids  by Barbara Galler-Smith and Josh Langston
  • Impossibilia by Douglas Smith
  • Out of Time by D. G. Laderoute

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more:

  • The Cursed by Dave Duncan
  • Defining Diana by Hayden Trenholm
  • Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer
  • Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall
  • Marseguro by Edward Willett

The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook. For press inquiries, please email press@storybundle.com.

Curator’s Notes

Destiny’s Blood:

One of several books in this bundle that get you started on a new series, in this case Marie’s Destiny trilogy. Destiny’s Blood won the Foreword Award and was a finalist for the Aurora. Destiny’s Fall (also an Aurora finalist) and Destiny’s War complete the series. Marie is an Ottawa-based writer who lights up a room the way her prose lights up a page. If you haven’t read her work before, this book is a great introduction.

Drowning in Amber:

I’ve included several books in series in this bundle, most of which are the first title. E. C. Bell’s Drowning in Amber is the second book of a trilogy, but it and all the books in the series can be fully enjoyed as a stand-alone work. The first title, Seeing the Light, won the BPAA award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Bony Blythe Award for Light Mystery. The third book is Stalking the Dead.

Druids:

An introduction to yet another series! This time, it’s the Druid trilogy by the writing team of Barbara Galler-Smith and Josh Langston. I’ve never had the chance to meet Josh, but I’ve known Barb since I began writing, and it’s always a thrill to read her work. Captives and Warriors complete the trilogy.

Out of Time:

For a bundle that’s coming out shortly after Canada’s 150th birthday, it seemed appropriate to include a fun YA adventure (to remind us we’re still young) in an environment that many associate with Canada (the wilderness, specifically the shores of Kitche Gumi, or Lake Superior).

The Cursed:

Shortly after I started writing professionally, I sat on my first panel at a genre convention, an unknown among established pros. One of my fellow panelists was Dave Duncan, and I still remember his gracious welcome to a newbie. Dave is an international best seller and an acknowledged master of epic fantasy and science fiction, with fifty-plus novels and over a dozen series. In 2015, Dave was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association Hall of Fame. The Cursed is often cited by fans as a favorite Duncan title.

Defining Diana:

I’ve known Hayden almost since I started writing in the late 90’s. He’s been an Aurora finalist ever so many times and has won the award four times. He also owns Bundoran Press, so he knows the writing game from all sides: writer, editor, and publisher. Here’s your chance to read the first book in The Steele Chronicles, a near-future SF trilogy, each volume of which earned a spot on the Aurora Award ballot. Steel Whispers and Stealing Home complete the trilogy.

Golden Fleece:

I couldn’t  put together an Aurora Award bundle and not include a Robert J. Sawyer title. Rob’s won the Aurora fourteen times with another thirty ballot appearances. Rob is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world’s top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial Award. In 2013, Rob was also inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association Hall of Fame. Golden Fleece was Rob’s first novel.

Hair Side, Flesh Side:

I first met Helen when she worked for the excellent Canadian press, ChiZine Publications, and edited my second collection, Chimerascope. I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time. Helen has established herself as a master of the short form, and this, her first collection, is ample proof. Aside from being a finalist for the Aurora Award, Hair Side, Flesh Side also won the Sydney J Bounds Award.

Marseguro:

Here’s your chance to read the first entry in Ed Willett’s acclaimed two-book series of thought provoking SF adventure. Marseguro won the Aurora Award and its sequel, Terra Insegura, was a finalist for the award. It’s a series that will make you both feel and think, and is a great introduction to the work of an author of more than fifty books.