Edward Willett

Complete Shards of Excalibur series now available as audiobooks!

Cover art for the audiobook version of Door Into Faerie, Book 5 of The Shards of Excalibur series.

With the release of Door into Faerie this week, my complete five-book Shards of Excalibur young adult fantasy series, published in print by Coteau Books, is now available in audiobook format:

Song of the Sword
Twist of the Blade
Lake in the Clouds
Cave Beneath the Sea
Door into Faerie

The Shards of Excalibur series tells the story of Ariane Forsythe and Wally Knight, two Regina teens who are sent on a quest for the scattered shards of King Arthur’s legendary sword Excalibur by none other than the Lady of the Lake. The Lady shows up in Regina’s Wascana Lake and informs Ariane that she is heir to the Lady’s power to travel through and manipulate fresh water, and tells her that she and Wally, who “happens” (though it turns out there was less chance about it than it seems) to be with her when she encounters the Lady, must find the sword’s scattered pieces before Merlin can. Merlin, in his modern guise as computer magnate Rex Major, wants to reassemble the sword and use its power to take over our world and then launch an invasion into his own world of Faerie, from which he has long been exiled, using Earth’s modern weaponry to conquer it.

The quest takes Ariane and Wally all over the world, but they always end up back in Saskatchewan. It’s full of real Saskatchewan (and other Canadian) places, and I had blast writing it. Two of the books, Twist of the Blade (Book 2) and Door Into Faerie, where shortlisted for Best Young Adult Novel at the Aurora Awards.

Claire McAdams Photography

The audiobooks are narrated by the talented Elizabeth Klett (that’s her at left), whose voices and accents are spot-on (I especially love her Wally). I was incredibly lucky to find someone who could such an amazing job. Check out all the many other books she’s narrated, as well!

For anyone interested in reviewing the books, I have a limited number of download codes available from Audible.com. Email me!

You can, of course, still buy the books in print. Autographed copies are available from my online store!

My latest book: the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law

The cover of One Lucky Devil: The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow (Shadowpaw Press).

My latest book isn’t one I wrote, it’s one I edited. It’s One Lucky Devil, the First World War memoirs of my grandfather-in-law, Sampson J. Goodfellow, published by my new publishing company, Shadowpaw Press.

I always knew that this would be the second book from Shadowpaw Press, after my collection of short stories, Paths to the Stars, and also knew I wanted to time it to come out just before this November 11, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War.

It’s had great publicity: here’s an interview from the popular John Gormley Show on CKRM Radio, and here’s a front-page feature from the Regina LeaderPost.

You can buy it, in both print and ebook formats, through all the usual bookstore channels, including Chapters/Indigo, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble, as well as directly from me through Shadowpaw Press or my own online store (in the latter two cases, you can, of course, get it autographed, although not, alas, by Sam, who died in 1979, and also not, alas, in the case of ebooks, because I haven’t figured out a good way to do that yet).

Here’s the back cover copy:

Born in Scotland, Sampson J. Goodfellow emigrated to Toronto as a child. Like many young Canadian men, he returned to Europe to serve his new country in the First World War, first as a truck driver, then as a navigator on  Handley Page bombers.

Over a span of just six years, Sam witnessed Canada’s deadliest-ever tornado, sparred with world-champion lightweight boxers, survived seasickness and submarines, came under artillery fire at Vimy Ridge, was bombed by German aircraft while unloading shells at an ammunition dump at Passchendaele, joined the Royal Flying Corps, was top of his class in observer school, became a navigator, faced a court-martial for allegedly shooting up the King’s horse-breeding stables, survived being shot down by anti-aircraft fire, was captured at bayonet point and interrogated, became a prisoner of war in Germany…and, in the midst of all that, got engaged.

When Sam was listed as missing, the family of his fiancée went to a fortuneteller for news of his fate. “You couldn’t kill that devil,” she told them. “He is alive and trying to escape.” She was right.

With a sharp eye, a keen mind, a strong body, and an acerbic tongue, Sam survived, as one RAF officer put it when he returned to England after the Armistice, “enough to be dead several times.”

“You have been through hell,” a military doctor told him, “and you have been very lucky as a soldier and airman.”

Sampson J. Goodfellow really was “one lucky devil.” This is his story, in his own words.

And a bit more about Sam:

Sampson J. Goodfellow was an engineer, inventor and First World War veteran. Born in Scotland in 1892, he immigrated to Canada in 1902. He grew up in Toronto, where he apprenticed as a machinist. He worked briefly in Regina, Saskatchewan (where he was a member of the Regina Rugby Club, forerunners to today’s Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club of the Canadian Football League), before returning to Toronto to attend Toronto Technical School. He enlisted in the Canadian Army and served as truck driver in France before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, becoming a navigator on a Handley Page bomber. Shot down over German territory, he finished the war in a POW camp. During the war he became engaged to Anne Owen (Nancy) Ridgway; they were married on January 2, 1919, and returned to Regina, where Sam worked in machine engineering, eventually becoming president of Western Machine and Engineering. He and his wife were great patrons of the arts in their adopted city. Late in life, in honour of his work as an inventor, businessman, and philanthropist, Sam received an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Regina. Nancy died in 1974; Sam died in 1979.

I’m thrilled to have these memoirs in print. I hope you’ll check them out.

Coming in 2020: Changers, a young-adult dark-fantasy shapeshifter story for ChiZine Publications

I’m thrilled to announce that ChiZine Publications is buying my young-adult dark-fantasy novel Changers (intended to start a new series!) for publication in 2020. It will presumably appear under their ChiTeen imprint.

Sandra Kasturi, editor of ChiZine Publications, announced the sale at Can-Con in Ottawa over the weekend. I’ve known for a while, but didn’t want to say anything publicly until she did.

I’m very much looking forward to working with the great folks at ChiZine, and excited about this story. 

This may change, but here’s the “big picture” as I presented it in my submission:

A race of shapechangers, originally created to fight evil, has largely become evil. Down through the centuries they have been hunted by sanctified knights. Now there are few Changers left, and few Hunters…but a girl of the former and boy of the latter, who have grown up as friends, completely unaware of their true natures, are about to be plunged into this ancient conflict. Can they find a way to thwart the bloody destiny to which their ancestry would condemn them?

Sound intriguing?

The Space-Time Continuum: Pros talk about rewriting prose

Cover of the July-September 2018 issue of Freelance.

Here’s my latest “Space-Time Continuum” column from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild‘s newsletter Freelance

When I talk about writing (which I do, rather a lot), I’ll often say something like, “the most important part of writing is rewriting.” And I believe that’s true…but what rewriting means to an individual author varies.

I’ve recently started a podcast, The Worldshapers, in which I chat with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process. One of my questions is always about revision: what do they do when they get to the end of the first draft?

My first three guests on the podcast were Robert J. Sawyer, Canada’s best-known (and bestselling) science fiction author; Tanya Huff, a Canadian fantasy author with more than 1.2 million copies of her novels in print; and John Scalzi, a New York Timesbestselling science-fiction author who three years ago signed a $3.4 million deal for thirteen books, and whose first novel, Old Man’s War, and most recent, The Collapsing Empire, are also in development as television series.

Sawyer says he’s a huge believer in rewriting, which isn’t surprising, considering he calls his first draft (in a phrase he believes came from Canadian horror writer Edo van Belkom), “the vomit pass,” because, “it’s an unpleasant process getting it out, but you actually do feel better.” For him, the important thing is to get ideas on paper, because they’re evanescent, liable to vanish if not pinned down.

Once he has that first draft, he does more—many more, maybe four or five. What he doesn’t do is a lot of rewriting after the book goes to his editor. In fact, he says, his goal is to receive only one word of response from the editor: “Great.” And, he adds, most of his books have indeed been published with no editorial changes whatsoever.

Tanya Huff, on the other hand, says her first draft is probably about eighty to eighty-five percent of what is actually published, then she “layers it up from there.” She likes to say that there are two kinds of writers, those who build houses, and those who build walls. Contractors, when building houses, build a foundation, then a frame, and then add layers of complexity until the house is complete. Someone building a wall, however, has to build it right the first time: if she misses a brick at the bottom, the whole thing collapses.

Sheila Gilbert, Huff’s editor (and mine) at DAW Books typically gets Huff to add more detail. She thinks this may relate to the fact her only formal writing training was in television, where details are put in “by the other seventy-five people who work on the property” after the initial scriptwriter. Huff has now written thirty-two books for DAW, all of them edited by Sheila, and says at this point she can hear Sheila’s voice in her head as she writes.

My personal rewriting style is very close to Huff’s. Like her, my first draft is usually within eighty to eight-five percent what’s published, and then I complexify–and, like her, I’m usually asked by Sheila to add more detail yet. 

Asked if he rewrites, John Scalzi’s first response was a flat, “No.” But that’s not quite true. He does what he calls “rolling” or “fractal” rewrites-—in other words, he rewrites as he goes, so that when he gets to the end, there’s no need to rewrite the whole thing from the beginning.

Scalzi thinks there are two reasons he works this way. One, he’s a former journalist, and in journalism, “you have write a couple of thousand words every few days and it’s all due at 3 p.m. and you have to write clean copy,” experience he thinks helps him organize his thoughts as he writes.

But, two, he thinks the revision process is dictated by the instruments people use. As it happens, Sawyer, Huff, and I are all pretty much the same age. We wrote longhand as kids, moved to typewriters, and then finally to computers. Writing longhand or on a typewriter, you pretty much have to work in drafts: you finish it, mark it up, then write or type it again.

John, though, is ten years younger. He wrote his first complete short story in Grade 9 on a first-generation Macintosh computer. He’s never written on anything else—and a computer, of course, makes it easier to revise as you go. “By the time I get to the end, so much of what would have been first drafts or second drafts has already been subsumed in the writing process.”

So, yes, rewriting is an important part of writing—but how you do it, or even at what point you do it in the process, is very much an individual choice.

As is all of writing—something to remember whenever anyone (even me!) gives you what sounds like a hard and fast rule about how to go about crafting your stories.

Coming soon from Shadowpaw Press: One Lucky Devil

The next book from my new publishing company, Shadowpaw Press, through which I previously published my short-story collection Paths to the Stars, will be something quite different.

One Lucky Devil: The First World War Memoirs of Sampson J. Goodfellow is the edited memoir of my grandfather-in-law, in whose former house I now live (having married his granddaughter, Margaret Anne Hodge, P.Eng. Sam wrote his memoirs late in life, probably in the early 1970s (he died in 1979). I posted them online here, unedited, about ten years ago, but with this being the centennial of the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War, it seemed an opportune time to put them into book form, properly edited, with some accompanying photos (there aren’t a lot from Sam himself, but there are quite a few that illustrate places and events).

Release date is November 1! You can already pre-order the Kindle version here, and the print version is in the final stages. I hope you’ll check it out when it’s available!

Here’s the back cover copy:

Born in Scotland, Sampson J. Goodfellow emigrated to Toronto as a child. Like many young Canadian men, he returned to Europe to serve his new country in the First World War, first as a truck driver, then as a navigator on  Handley Page bombers.

Over a span of just six years, Sam witnessed Canada’s deadliest-ever tornado, sparred with world-champion lightweight boxers, survived seasickness and submarines, came under artillery fire at Vimy Ridge, was bombed by German aircraft while unloading shells at an ammunition dump at Passchendaele, joined the Royal Flying Corps, was top of his class in observer school, became a navigator, faced a court-martial for allegedly shooting up the King’s horse-breeding stables, survived being shot down by anti-aircraft fire, was captured at bayonet point and interrogated, became a prisoner of war in Germany…and, in the midst of all that, got engaged.

When Sam was listed as missing, the family of his fiancée went to a fortuneteller for news of his fate. “You couldn’t kill that devil,” she told them. “He is alive and trying to escape.” She was right.

With a sharp eye, a keen mind, a strong body, and an acerbic tongue, Sam survived, as one RAF officer put it when he returned to England after the Armistice, “enough to be dead several times.”

“You have been through hell,” a military doctor told him, “and you have been very lucky as a soldier and airman.”

Sampson J. Goodfellow really was “one lucky devil.” This is his story, in his own words.

Two more great reviews for Paths to the Stars

Paths to the Stars, my collection of short stories, continues to get good reviews!

Writing at The Future Fire, Lisa Timpf says:

“Willett’s short story collection has much to offer. Between the pages of Paths to the Stars, readers will find both inner and outer journeys. Some of the characters find what they are hoping for, and are pleased by it. Others get what they thought they were looking for, but realize it’s not at all what they expected. We get to experience alien cultures and strange worlds, and witness strange happenings in our own world. For a speculative fiction collection, that hits a lot of bases.”

Over at Long and Short Reviews, reviewer Astilbe concludes:

“Paths to the Stars: Twenty-Two Fantastical Tales of Imagination was a creative collection that I’d highly recommend to anyone who appreciates the occasionally humorous side of this genre.”

Remember, you can buy an autographed copy directly from me.

You can also buy it from the sources linked below (among others):

Shadowpaw Press | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Chapters/Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Cave Beneath the Sea audiobook released

Cave Beneath the Sea, Book 4 in my Shards of Excalibur young-adult fantasy series, published in print by Coteau Books, is now available in audiobook format through Audible.

Elizabeth Klett once again narrates, as she has for the previous three books in the series, and once again does a fabulous job.

About the book:

The fourth shard of Excalibur might come with a price Ariane doesn’t want to pay: her mother.  

Seeking to recover the shards of King Arthur’s sword Excalibur before Rex Major (the ancient sorcerer Merlin in a modern-day guise), Ariane and Wally have traveled around the world, and their quest is not yet over. Ariane’s magical powers as heir to the Lady of the Lake, combined with Wally’s clever thinking, have enabled them to hang on to two of the three shards they’ve located so far – but Rex Major still has one shard of his own and will stop at nothing to claim all the pieces for himself and use its power to rule Earth and invade the magical realm of Faerie. 

And now Major has his eyes on a big prize: Ariane’s mother, who went missing after she refused the power of the Lady of the Lake.  

Thanks to Wally, Ariane knows her mother is alive – and that Rex Major is trying to find her. If he succeeds, Ariane fears she’ll have no choice but to surrender the two shards she and Wally possess, because she’ll do anything – and give up everything – to have her mother back with her again. 

Ariane and Wally race to the Caribbean as they try to find Ariane’s mother and the fourth shard of Excalibur before Major does. As they struggle to stop Major, Ariane and Wally face desperate danger…and must make the most difficult decisions of their lives.

Some reviews:

“Edward Willett has created as exciting a read as the earlier books in the series, continuing to develop his characters and their relationships while the action-filled plot carries the reader to intriguing national and international locales…. It’s hard for me to decide which is the stronger foundation for the story, the characters or the plot, as both are substantial and intricate.” (CanLit for Little Canadians)

Cave Beneath the Sea will appeal to young readers in search of adventure as well as adults who enjoy another version of the timeless story of King Arthur…. Recommended.” (CM Magazine)

And here are links to the audiobooks of the first three in the series:

Five-star review for Paths to the Stars

Paths to the Stars, Published by Shadowpaw Press
Buy an autographed copy directly from me!
Shadowpaw Press | Amazon.com
Amazon.ca | Chapters/Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Just came across a great five-star review on Goodreads of Paths of the Stars, penned (pixelled?) by Toby Welch. Some excerpts:

“In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve read Willett’s work before. I’ve enjoyed every novel of his that I’ve consumed and hoped that his latest work would reach the same high bar. It didn’t – it hurdled right over that bar and left it hanging…”

“It’s a requirement of mine for science fiction works to push the boundaries of imagination. And Willett didn’t disappoint…

“Willett’s powerful writing style shines in this story collection. He has mastered the art of showing and not telling, a skill not enough writers can claim to have these days…

“Lovers of sci-fi will find Paths to the Stars hard to put down…this book hits all the checkmarks for what I feel are the hallmarks of a science fiction work: imaginative, fantastical, and mind-bending. If this work was a meal instead of a book, it would deserve a Michelin star.”

Pretty nice, huh? Read the whole thing!

Worldshaper now available!

It’s September 18, release day for my latest novel from DAW Books, Worldshaper. You can buy it any number of ways:

Amazon U.S. | Amazon Canada | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Penguin Random House |Indiebound | Powell’s

You can also, of course buy an autographed copy from my online bookstore.

Worldshaper starts off a new series called Worldshapers. The artwork is by Juliana Kolesova, who happens to also be from Canada–she works out of Toronto.

Good reviews so far:

“This rollicking secondary-world contemporary fantasy opens with a bang…(the characters) grapple with the ethics of changing the world, the question of what makes people ‘real’ when the worldshapers can change everything about them with nothing more than a thought, and the need to save the universe. Willett…meticulously includes small details that make the constantly changing scenery feel solid and real…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

“There is so much to love about this book. Like the fact it references Tolkien at least three times, if not more. Or perhaps the fact it referenced Doctor Who. Or maybe the fact that it’s got a sarcastic wiseass smartmouthed main female character who actually stops to think ‘what-if’ every once and a while. Or perhaps there’s the fact that there are so many interesting ideas in this book that it’ll make your world spin….Edward Willett is fast becoming my favorite author.” – Ria P., NetGalley reviewer

And here’s the book blurb:

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.

Interested in more? You can read the first two chapters of Worldshaper online.

Worldshaper press release

Here’s the press release I just wrote for Worldshaper, releasing September 18:

What if the creators of fictional worlds could actually live in them?

That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Worldshaper, the latest book by Aurora Award-winning Canadian science fiction and fantasy author Edward Willett, and the first book in his new series, Worldshapers, published by DAW Books.

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, calls Worldshaper, releasing September 18, a “rollicking secondary-world contemporary fantasy” that “sets up a fascinating, fluctuating universe with plenty of room for growth for the main characters,” and adds, “Readers will eagerly join their journey.”

Booklistsays Worldshaper is “fun, quirky, and highly enjoyable, nicely laying the groundwork for future volumes.”

Worldshaperis the story of Shawna Keys, living what seems an idyllic life as the book begins: she’s just opened her pottery studio in a small Montana city, she has a boyfriend and a best friend, she’s looking forward to the rest of her life—and then, suddenly, everything changes. Terrorists attack the coffee shop where she’s gone with her friend Aesha, killing Aesha and many others. The leader of the masked attackers touches her, calls her by name—and then points a gun at her head. She’s about to die, but she refused to believe it’s happening…and just like that, it isn’t. The attackers are gone and the coffee shop is intact—but Aesha and everyone else who was killed has vanished. In fact, no one else even remembers they existed!

A stranger, Karl Yatsar, shows up and explains to Shawna that the world she thinks is the onlyworld is, in fact, a construct: a world she Shaped to be the way it is. Not only that, there is an entire Labyrinth of Shaped worlds, and all are in danger from the Adversary who has invaded her world and will, inevitably, steal it away from her. Karl tells her she cannot save her own world, but has the power to save all these other worlds, by travelling through them, absorbing the knowledge of how each has been Shaped from the Shapers living within each one, and transporting that knowledge to Ygrair, the woman at the centre of the Labyrinth, and the one who, though Shawna inexplicably doesn’t remember it, gave her this world to Shape in the first place.

In Worldshaper, Karl and Shawna flee through a world changing around them, sometimes at Shawna’s behest, sometimes at the Adversary’s, to escape through a Portal into the next world. The series will take Shawna from world to world, each unique—steampunk worlds, worlds plagued by vampires and werewolves, film noir worlds, epic fantasy worlds—as she tries to save as many as she can from the Adversary. Along the way, Shawna will face many challenges, physical, spiritual, and ethical, as she comes to grips with her power, and the responsibility of creators for the worlds they create.

Worldshapers, the series, is essentially a metaphor for readers travelling into the fictional worlds of books and encountering the authors of those books. In conjunction with that, Willett has also launched a podcast, The Worldshapers (www.theworldshapers.com), in which he talks to his fellow science fiction and fantasy authors about how they shape their fictional worlds. Each episode focuses on a specific book or books chosen by the featured author. Willett talks with the author about how he or she became interested in the fantastic and began writing it, and then in detail about the creating of that particular book or books, from inspiration through first draft through revisions through editing, and finishes with some philosophical discussion of why that author writes.

Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages. Besides Worldshaper, other recent novels include the stand-alone science fiction novel The Cityborn (DAW Books), the five-book Shards of Excalibur YA fantasy series for Coteau Books, the Masks of Aygrima fantasy trilogy (written as E.C. Blake for DAW), and the Peregrine Rising science fiction duology for Bundoran Press. In 2002 Willett won the Regina Book Award for best book by a Regina author at the Saskatchewan Book Awards, and in 2009 won the Aurora Award (honoring the best in Canadian science fiction and fantasy) for Best Long-Form Work in English for Marseguro.  He has been shortlisted for Saskatchewan Book Awards and Aurora Awards multiple times. His nonfiction runs the gamut from local history to science books for children and adults to biographies of people as diverse as Jimi Hendrix and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In addition to writing, he’s a professional actor and singer, who has performed in numerous plays, musicals, and operas. He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., their teenaged daughter, Alice, and their black Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.

His main website is www.edwardwillett.com, and he can be found on Twitter @ewillett and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/edward.willett.

The Worldshaperspodcast can be found at www.theworldshapers.com, and on Twitter @TWorldshapers.