Saturday, 17 October 2020

Returning Mystery Author Chuck Bowie of Fredericton, NB.

 



Chuck has been a regular guest on the Scribbler and he's always welcome. He writes mysteries and does it well. Today he tells us about what's new in his writing journey.

The Scribbler is happy to have him back as he chats about his new novels. The fifth in the Thief for Hire series- Her Irish Boyfriend -  is due out soon and Death Between the Walls is a new series which has been well received with great reviews. See below for the links to his other visits.



Apples…or Guns; What do You Research?


-         Chuck Bowie


I write Thrillers. I love writing thrillers; I think it may have something to do with experiencing something that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. Also, if a story arrives in your brain, you want to see where that story goes, right? As an intuitive writer, I will just be sitting around (or sleeping, or driving) when an idea hits me, often quite clearly defined. It may be a character, a scene, or the germ of an idea for a new novel. At my stage in the writing continuum, I peer deeply into this germ of an idea, and if it isn’t about some sort of mystery, I am wont to dismiss it, because, as I mentioned, I like thrillers.

        






  My first novel: Three Wrongs arrived as a rough but fully-formed story. I didn’t intend at the outset to extend it into a series, but again, I wanted to see where Donovan’s story would take him: to redemption, or someplace else. Along the way, From AMACAT through to my upcoming thriller Her Irish Boyfriend, I discovered if I was to tell a complete story, I needed to brush up on objects and events with which I was less familiar. A visit to Trinity College in Dublin illustrates the wonder of research to enhance a story. Guns being another, for instance. Having owned but one pistol in my life—a pellet gun—I needed to do some homework on weaponry. What’s the difference between a Turkish Akdal Ghost and a Glock Gen 16? In fact, what’s the difference between a Glock Gen 14 and a Gen 16? Readers want to know, and experienced, discerning readers will be offended if I get it wrong. So homework has to happen.


Long Room at Trinity College.


          Research must be conducted, regardless of the genre, or sub-genre. And if God is in the details (and evidence suggests it is) a writer’s work improves with the quality of their research. I’m going to argue that ameliorating the research will improve the writing, including the character’s behaviour (psychology), the setting (which way is west, when the sun sets), exposition (how does an anechoic chamber actually feel like, to the user), and the tools of the sub-genre (including weaponry).

          So here I am, tooling along as a writer of Suspense-Thrillers, when, late one night after a great dinner of red wine, pulled pork tacos with refried black beans, a thought occurred to me. Here comes the part where I self-identify as a word nerd, or Logophile. I awoke with a fairly advanced storyline for a Cozy Mystery. Here comes my fancy word: I am usually comfortable in being visited by the idea for a new story and successfully fighting the notion off. This is called a ‘Velleity’.You may recall I think, or thought, of myself as a Thriller writer. But the idea of a new series wouldn’t go away. Around this time, my life got a bit interrupted, and while I was off-track, I wrote my first Cozy Mystery: Death Between the Walls, and it didn’t hurt a bit.




          But there were growing pains to the creation of this new series.

          I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write it as a series. And I wanted the little town to feel almost as if it, too, was a character. This I knew would require research. And it seemed as if I may have to refresh my notion of what constitutes applied research. For instance, I probably would no longer need to Google ‘guns’, but I may in fact need to know which apples ripen in August. (Ginger Golds in Eastern Canada, as it turns out.) And my new protagonist was a woman! And a younger woman, at that. Part of my support system would be my female editor, and part of my research entailed reading cozys (sic). The surprise, for me, was that it would be necessary to return to the small town in which I was raised, and look around. This helped immensely; a refamiliarization, as it were.

          Areas of commonality between the Thriller series and the Cozy series were easy to spot: the narrative arc was similar: Intro-Challenge-Quest-Rise-Crisis-Denouement. The development of the protagonist had to be paced, in both cases. The crisis and concurrent tension had to be there. And getting the reader to actually care about the outcomes of the characters was still critical.

          I remain fascinated by this need to get the details right. You don’t shoot someone at 5 o’clock, and then have someone see them in a tavern at 7:00 that same night. But more than that, what does a thirty-four year old woman wear to dinner? And can they engage in a chase scene wearing flip-flops? Would the tiny GM pickup she drives have a V-6, or a V-8? Who would know how to disable ABS braking on that truck, if they weren’t a mechanic? If you see a wolf in rural East Coast New Brunswick, is it in fact a wolf, or might it be a coyote? Are their eyes the same colour?

          As I said; I love Mysteries, and it remains a mystery as to which kind of mystery I prefer: Suspense-Thriller, or Cozy Mystery. I guess I’ll just have to keep writing both until I decide.

 


Chuck Bowie writes out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and so does his pseudonym, Alexa Bowie.



**Note from The Scribbler: I thoroughly enjoyed Death Between the Walls and if you are into cozy mysteries, this one won't let you down. 

I've followed the TFH series and am anxious for the release of Her Irish Boyfriend.



A review for Death Between the Walls:


Loved the mystery itself besides the "local flavors" incorporated into the story. Great writing definitely makes for a page turner. Looking forward to Emma's next adventure and meeting more of the interesting characters that surround her.


To view Chucks earlier visits, follow these:

July 7, 2018 February 11, 2017 August 20, 2016


To buy Chuck's books, go HERE.


To discover more about Chuck and his writing, follow these links:

https://www.chuckbowie.ca/bio

https://www1.gnb.ca/0003/Pages/en/NB_Aut-e.asp?CODE=FC

https://wfnb.ca/member_profile/chuck-bowie/

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/51-our-authors/authors-b/189-chuck-bowie




Thank you Chuck for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.




Saturday, 10 October 2020

Author Michelle McLean & Illustrator Sophie Arseneau of Bath, NB.

 




Another first for the Scribbler!

 

Michelle and I met online through several author friends we follow on Facebook. There is excitement in the air for Michelle and Sophie – a mother and daughter team – with their first collection of children’s poems – When Pigs Fly. The book was launched September 19th in Woodstock, NB.

Michelle is an award-winning poet and her work has been featured in many publications. Sophie is an artist, writer and competitive dancer.

The Scribbler is lucky to have the ladies as our guests this week. A 4Q Interview and an excerpt from the new book.

 







Michelle McLean is a clinical social worker, educator, poet, and mother of two fabulous, big-hearted daughters. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Quills, Ascent Aspirations, Understorey, Other Voices, Peacock Journal, JONAH, and others. She lives with her family in the village of Bath, New Brunswick.

Sophie Arseneau, now 12, completed the majority of the illustrations for this collection between the ages of 10-11. Sophie is an artist, writer, competitive dancer and grade 8 student at Florenceville Middle School. 





 

4Q: Michelle – how did this project come about? What inspired you and Sophie to create this work?

 


MM: The majority of these poems were actually written when Sophie was in utero.  I was thrilled when the unpublished manuscript won second place in the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick’s annual competition in the “Writing for Children” category (2007).   Despite receiving encouraging feedback about the collection over the next couple of years, I wasn’t able to find a publisher at the time and I basically sentenced the manuscript to life in the back corner of my closet amongst the dust bunnies, my too high/never worn heels, and photo boxes filled with outtakes, snapshots of old boyfriends and regrettable 80s hair.  This is also where I housed my rejection letters – out of sight, but never quite out of mind.  Yet all of those kindly worded (and often personalized) rejection letters invite reconsideration of the previously-scorned-as-platitude “things happen for a reason”, since this deferral allowed the opportunity for my daughter to illustrate the poems and for the two of us to collaborate on this project together.  I was also delighted that we were able to include a gorgeous artistic contribution from my youngest daughter, Lily.  It’s a pretty special project to me – a collaboration that never would have happened had the book been accepted for publication all those years ago.

 


I’ve long admired Sophie’s artistic talents and how much animation and life she brings to her drawings.   I’ve always loved the humor and joy in her artwork and it would never fail to make me smile and chuckle.   When Sophie was around 9 or 10, I remember thinking “how cool would it be if she wanted to illustrate the poems in When Pigs Fly?”  Luckily, Sophie was on board with this idea, and Chapel Street Editions was willing to take the plunge with us! 

 

 

 

4Q: Sophie – please tell us about your illustrations. Was it difficult to portray the words into a drawing?

 

SA:  It was a little difficult, but some poems were easier to portray than others.  For instance, some of the shorter poems took less time to draw than some of the longer or more complicated ones.  I completed some of the illustrations at home, and others in my art classes with Brigitte Rivers.  Each illustration usually took between 1-2 classes, but some of the more complicated drawings might take up to 4 classes.  The words in the poems affect a lot of the outcome of the drawing.  Most of the poems in the book are written in a silly or funny style so that drawing would be different than maybe a more serious poem or a love poem.

 

 

 

4Q: Now tell us what to expect when we pick up a copy.


 



MM:  One of my fondest descriptions of this collection came from my publisher, who called it “delightfully quirky”.   I’m thrilled when I share the poems with folks and they laugh out loud.  That’s my favorite reaction.   I think when people pick up a copy, they can expect to be impressed and delighted by the illustrations (I am admittedly biased, but I still think it holds true), and to have some laughs and to enjoy a little goofy foolishness, whimsy and wordplay, with the occasional dash of something extra.    

 

 

 

4Q: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote. Michelle & Sophie.

 

MM:  Sophie has been writing and illustrating since she was a very little girl.  I can remember her as young as age three, crafting books out of construction and printer paper, carefully hole- punching and binding them with ribbons – titles such as The Canary Merry Christmas, The Yicky Sticky Ick, Tommy the Tow Truck, ABCDE Animals, The Horse and the Flea, The Fuzzy Wuzzie Bear, and her five-volume series, Hey Abby!  Sophie would always include an “About the Author” section on the back, and the whole process and production at that age was pretty adorable, but also just really impressive.   I also fondly reflect on the newsletter Sophie created years ago to share around town, entitled “Chit Chat and all That”.  Staff at our local convenience store, Mark’s the Spot allowed Sophie to display them on their newsstand for folks to take home with them.

 

Over the years, I have rescued various pieces of writing and artwork from the trash – pieces which didn’t meet Sophie’s standards in some way.  I just couldn’t bear to see them thrown out.  I know I’m biased, but I think everything she creates is pretty special.  Who knows – maybe she’ll publish the “outtakes” someday!

 


SA:  Like my mom has said, when I was quite young, I was often writing my own little books and stories.  I threw a lot of my writing away, but mom ended up rescuing half of my art pieces and books from when I was little.  I’m glad she did, because now I can see them again and remember when I wrote them.  

 

 

 

4Q: Please tell us about your other writing Michelle and especially your award(s).

 


MM: I continue to search out a home for my unpublished manuscript, Tesserae, but have published a number of individual poems from this collection.  Tesserae was awarded an honourable mention for the Alfred G. Bailey Prize (2017).    I was twice awarded honourable mentions for the Dawn Watson Memorial prize (2015), (2018). 

As an unpublished manuscript, When Pigs Fly was awarded second place in WFNB’s annual contest in the “Writing for Children” category (2007).   I was also a grateful award recipient in the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg poetry competition for “young writers of unusual promise” (2007).

I have received a number of other honourable mentions, as well as second and third place awards in various contests from Ascent Aspirations, Open Minds Quarterly, Toward the Light, and the Ontario Poetry Society.

While part of me feels a little obnoxious listing these recognitions, I have to say that these awards have been quite helpful in buoying my faith and optimism in the midst of the inevitable swamp of rejection letters one often finds themselves slogging through as a writer.

 

 

 

4Q: Sophie – When did you start drawing and when did you start competitive dancing. Tell us a bit about both.

 

SA: I have been drawing for my entire life because it was always something I really enjoyed doing.  I started competitive dance three years ago but I have been dancing recreationally since I was three.  What I love most about drawing is that there is no “right way”. You can just do whatever you want and there’s no rules.   What I love most about dance is everything, honestly, – the costumes, the music, being on stage – I love everything about it!

 

 

 

4Q: Favorite authors, novels or artist?

 

SA: I don’t exactly have a favorite author because I usually pick out any book and if I like it, I read it. I don’t usually pick out books by a specific author.

 

 

 

4Q: What’s next for you ladies? Another project to work on together?

 

MM: I would absolutely love to work on another collaboration with Sophie at some point, but I suspect she would enjoy a little break to move on to other things in her life right now.   My youngest daughter Lily has expressed interest in working on a project together, so perhaps that will be something to look for in the future.

 


SA:  Although I did enjoy this project a lot, I agree that mom and my sister Lily should work on the next project together and that way we would both get a chance.

 

 


 

An Excerpt from When Pigs Fly.

(Compliments of Chapel Street Editions. Copyright is held by the author(s). Used with permission)














 

 

Thank you both, Michell and Sophie, for being our guests this week. Wishing you much success with your future endeavors.





 

For all you fantastic visitors wanting to know more about Michelle and Sophie, please follow these links:



 ****Please note that when you visit Amazon, you may see that the book is "temporarily out of stock". This is not so if you are ordering a paperback. Because it is print-on-demand, you can order your copy.  


Purchasing links:

http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com/when-pigs-fly.html?fbclid=IwAR2_Ke3iC1zSYuPTFo2aVZniZ-TkHO7idAClezhL7oHHXsVA8dVqW_m2BJg

https://www.amazon.ca/When-Pigs-Fly-Michelle-McLean/dp/1988299292/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=when+pigs+fly+michelle+mclean&qid=1599001672&sr=8-1

 

 

Other links and contacts:

https://wfnb.ca/member_profile/michelle-mclean/

https://understoreymagazine.ca/author/michelle-mclean/

http://peacockjournal.com/michelle-mclean-three-poems/

https://www.creekvillagegalleryandcafe.com/sophie-arseneau

https://www.facebook.com/events/646604956061308

https://www.facebook.com/creekvillagegalleryandcafe/photos/a.1069569733070172/3918585064835277/

 

Michelle’s email contact:    mclean.michelle@outlook.com

 

Sophie would also like to invite you to follow “Gruffy the Puppy” on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/gruffythepuppy/







 

 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

Award winning Author Jennifer Irwin of Los Angeles, CA.

 




I had the pleasure to become acquainted with and follow Jennifer on Twitter when I noticed the exceptional cover of her debut novel – A Dress the color of the Sky. What was also striking is the amount of awards the novel has garnered, as well as exceptional reviews. Most impressive. After visiting her web site, I hoped to share her work with my readers.

She has graciously accepted my invitation to be this week’s guest to participate in a 4Q Interview and the book summary.


 

A native New Yorker and captivating storyteller with a flair for embellishment, Jennifer Irwin currently resides in Los Angeles with two cats, a dog, and her boyfriend. After earning her BA in Cinema from Denison University, she worked in advertising and marketing, raised three boys, and ultimately became a certified Pilates instructor. Jennifer’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications including California’s Emerging Writers, An Anthology of Fiction. A Dress the Color of the Sky is her first novel. Since its release, A Dress the Color of the Sky has won seven indie book awards, received rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and been optioned for a feature film. Jennifer is represented by Prentis Literary.

 

 


 

4Q: Let’s start by telling our readers how you chose the intriguing title A Dress the Color of The Sky and then we’ll share the book’s blurb.

 


JI: I came up with the title after reading the fairy tale, Donkeyskin which was written by Charles Perrault and originally published in 1695. I refer to the fairy tale in my novel which helps to align the title with the premise of the book.

 

 


4Q: How thrilling to be recognized for your work. Of the seven awards received for your novel, I am most fascinated by the three awards given by The Feathered Quill. Wow! Please tell us about this experience.




 

JI: The first award I learned about winning was the Feathered Quill book award in which A Dress the Color of the Sky was awarded medals in three categories. It was the most exciting moment for me as a debut novelist—to be recognized as an award-winning author and to have my work chosen against my peers was the best feeling. I was actually in a restaurant when I received the email and I felt like jumping up from the table and screaming, “I won!”

 

 


4Q:  After reading The Story Behind the Story on your website, we note there are experiences in your life and those close to you that inspired your story. Would you care to share a bit about this?


 

JI: I began writing my book when I was going through a divorce and felt like I had failed at one of the biggest commitments of my life. It was important to me to dig deep and try to understand why I had chosen this person as my life partner when I knew he was an alcoholic. What I realized was that I had been carrying around a great deal of pain from my childhood and the fact that my father was an alcoholic and I married one must have had some correlation. This was one of the reasons I dug deep into the process of healing from childhood trauma which is the underlying theme of my debut novel. I also was fascinated by the huge impact that Fifty Shades of Grey had on women and the reawakening of their sexuality so I decided to make my protagonist a sex addict as well.

 

 


4Q: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.

 


JI: It’s funny that you are asking this question since some of my book is loosely based on my life. While writing A Dress the Color of the Sky I dug deep into my childhood to understanding how I ended up the way I am but more importantly what processes needed to happen in order to unwind the unwanted baggage I had carried into my adult life. If I had to pick one memory from my childhood it would be spending time with my mom. She had a great sense of humor and a contagious laugh which was like a burst of sunshine in even the toughest of situations.

 

 


4Q: Your website mentions your follow-up novel, yet to be published, A Dress the Color of the Moon. What can you share about this novel with us?

 



JI: I recently submitted the final draft of A Dress the Color of the Moon to my literary agent who is in the process of putting the pitch package together. I’m hopeful that the stand-alone sequel will be picked up by a publisher and perhaps they will also pick up my first book, re-cover and re-release. The sequel begins when Prudence checks out of rehab and follows her and a few of the characters from the first book as they journey through their post-rehab life. The story moves from third person to first person and back and forth in time so I definitely took on a complex story structure for my second book! There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns as the reader learns more about a few of the characters including who stays on course, and who doesn’t. There is a movie called The Big Chill in which a few old college friends gather for a funeral. In Moon there is a similar premise in which the characters all gather for the funeral of someone who committed suicide in rehab which happened in book one. I dig deeper into who she was and how the suicide affected each of the characters.

 

 


4Q: Favorite authors or novels?

 


JI: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I love a good story about overcoming hardships and the strength of the human spirit.

 

 


4Q: Anything else you would like to tell us about?

 

JI: I would like to thank you for helping indie published authors like myself spread the word about our books!

 

** You’re most welcome, Jennifer. Talented authors, like yourself, are what makes the Scribbler so interesting.







 

A Dress the Color of the Sky.

Book Summary:

 

For too many years, Prudence Aldrich has been numbing the pain in her life with random sexual encounters. Her marriage to cold, self-centered Nick is, not surprisingly, on the rocks. But after several dangerous experiences with strangers, Prudence finally realizes she needs therapy to stop her self-destructive behavior, and so she checks into the Serenity Hills rehab center.

                          

Prudence blames herself for her irresponsible behavior and is filled with self-loathing. She’s convinced she is completely at fault for Nick’s manipulative attitude and believes with therapy, she can return their relationship to its idyllic beginnings. However, her therapist and the other members of her rehab group see the person behind the pain. As Prudence learns for about herself and the reasons for her behavior, including startling revelations about her childhood, she begins to understand the basis for her lack of sexual self-respect. She also learns she is not entirely to blame for the failure of her marriage. With the positive reinforcement of everyone at Serenity Hills, Prudence learns not to define herself by her past. But moving forward would mean letting go of Nick for good, and Prudence isn’t sure she can.

                                          

 


 

 

Thank you, Jennifer, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.





For you readers that would like to know more about Jennifer and her novel, please follow these links:

 



http://jenniferirwinauthor.com

https://twitter.com/jenirwinauthor

https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Irwin-author-1553230351572292/


 


Don't be shy, 



Saturday, 26 September 2020

Award Winning Author Edward Willett of Regina, Saskatchewan.

 






The Scribbler is pleased to do a series of guest appearances in conjunction with Creative Edge Publicity.

This week you will meet Edward Willett, an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, YA novels and non-fiction. With over 60 title published, he has something for all ages.

He also features fantasy and sci-fi authors on his podcast – The Worldshapers.

If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he also offers the following on his website:

Looking for an editor or mentor? I offer developmental and copyediting services as well as writing mentorships.

The Scribbler is fortunate to have Edward participate in a 4Q Interview and he is sharing an excerpt from The Moonlit World.



Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages. His latest is The Moonlit World, Book 3 in his Worldshapers portal-fantasy series for DAW Books. He also hosts the Aurora award-winning podcast The Worldshapers, featuring conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process, and recently Kickstarted an anthology, Shapers of Worlds, featuring authors who were guests on the podcast during the first year, many of them bestselling and award-winning. The anthology releases in ebook September 22 and in print in mid-November from Shadowpaw Press, Willett’s own publishing company. Willett began his career as a journalist, and his nonfiction includes science and history books and biographies, many of them for young readers. He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

 

 

 

4Q: From visiting your website, I notice that the Anthology – Shapers of Worlds – is your newest release. What can you tell us about this collection?

 




EW: Shapers of Worlds grew out of my podcast, The Worldshapers, where I interview other science fiction and fantasy authors—many of them international bestsellers and major award-winners—about their creative process. A couple of years ago I started my own publishing company, Shadowpaw Press, and as a result, became a member of SaskBooks, the professional association of Saskatchewan publishers. At our annual meeting last year, someone from Winnipeg gave a presentation on her successful Kickstarting of an anthology, and I thought, “Hey, I know some authors.” I reached out to (to limit the numbers) my first-year guests to see who would be interested in either writing an original story or providing a reprint, if the project funded. I had a wonderfully positive response—even those who couldn’t commit were very positive about the concept—so I went ahead. The Kickstarter ran in March—just as the pandemic was taking hold! —and funded to the tune of $15,700 CDN from 366 backers. The final book, which features 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, is now out in ebook, with a commercial print release coming in mid-November.

I’ve already reached out to my second-year podcast guests for a Shapers of Worlds Volume II, and am getting great response again, so look for another Kickstarter campaign around about February!

 

 

4Q:  Please tell us about your podcast – The Worldshapers.

 




EW: I’ve thought for years about starting a podcast, because I’ve hosted my own local radio and TV programs and, as a journalist, have conducted a lot of interviews during my career. When my book series, Worldshapers, began, I decided it was the perfect time to finally try my hand at podcasting, and put my interview skills—and the connections I now have in the field of science fiction and fantasy—to work. So, in August 2018 I launched with interviews with Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi, Tanya Huff, and Julie Czerneda, and the podcast has been going ever since.

Each episode is roughly an hour long (some have gone longer—Orson Scott Card’s ended up being a two-parter!), and follows the same general format: I ask how the author became interested in science fiction and fantasy as both a reader and a writer, how they got started writing, and how they broke in to professional writing, and then, focusing on a particular title of their choice, discuss their creative process, from idea generation through planning and outlining through writing the first draft, revision, and editing. At the end, I ask the “big philosophical questions”: “Why do you write? Why do you think any of us write? And why write science fiction and fantasy in particular?”

It’s been great fun and I’ve been gratified by the willingness of so many amazing authors to chat with me. I was honored to receive the 2019 Aurora Award—Canada’s fan-nominated-and-voted-on science fiction and fantasy award, the Canadian version of the Hugo Award—for Best Fan Related Work for the podcast, and honored that it was shortlisted for the same award again this year.

 

 

4Q: Can you share a childhood memory and/or anecdote?

 

EW: I have a clear memory, at the age of about five, while we were living in a little house on the corner of a farm outside of Lubbock, Texas, of learning what a “light year” was—that it was a measure of distance, not time, and an immense distance, at that—and being excited to tell my mother what I’d learned. Clearly, my future interest in science fiction was being foreshadowed.

 

 

4Q: I’m most intrigued by your World Shapers series. Your website states: From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new portal fantasy series in which one woman’s powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions. What can you tell us about it?





EW: The Worldshapers series is set in an interdimensional Labyrinth of Shaped worlds: worlds that exist only because a Shaper, trained in our world by the mysterious Ygrair (who has her own Shaped world at the center of the Labyrinth) has entered the Labyrinth and created the world from the raw material available there. In other words, it’s a bit like authors getting to live inside their books!

In the first book, Worldshaper, my main character, Shawna Keys, is living a nice, ordinary life in a small Montana city. She’s just opened her new pottery studio. She has a good friend, Aesha. As far as she knows, her world is the only world there is. But then, there’s what seems to be a terrorist attack. Aesha is killed. The leader of the “terrorists” touches Shawna’s forehead, and then is about to kill her. But she rejects that this can be happening—and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. Time slipped back three hours. But Aesha is still gone—worse than dead, because no one else even remembers she existed!

Enter Karl Yatsar, who tells Shawna she’s the Shaper of that world, even though she doesn’t remember being a Shaper—a thing he’s never encountered before and can’t explain. He tells her her world is lost, that the Adversary—the leader of the “terrorist” group—has stolen her knowledge of the Shaping of her world and will now begin to turn it against her. Her only hope is to escape her world into the next world in the Labyrinth. As well, he thinks, from the power she showed in setting time back three hours, that she has the power to do what he has been sent into the Labyrinth to accomplish: gather the knowledge of the Shaping of as many worlds in the Labyrinth as possible and convey that knowledge to Ygrair, before the Adversary can make his way to Ygrair and kill her, destroying the Labyrinth utterly in the process.



The first book is basically a chase across Shawna’s world as she flees the Adversary and she and Karl try to get to where he can open a Portal into the next world. Her world is a lot like ours, with a few differences (which I had fun with—in her world, for example, The Da Vinci Code was made into a not-very-successful Broadway musical starring Hugh Jackman.) She escapes into the next world, where Book 2, Master of the World, is set. For much of the book she’s on her own, having left Karl behind, and has to navigate a world inspired by the works of Jules Verne—so, it’s full of submarines and strange airships and weapons and mysterious islands.

The Moonlit World, Book 3, takes Shawna and Karl into a world Shaped by someone who really likes vampires and werewolves, so the title in my head for it for a long time was actually, “Werewolves and vampires and peasants, oh my!” I had a lot of fun playing with (and subverting) some of the vampire/werewolf tropes, and (as I do in all three books) indulging my penchant for making geek-culture jokes.







4Q: Favorite authors? Novels?



J.R.R. Tolkien, of course. I’m a fan of Harry Potter, too. Robert A. Heinlein was a huge influence on me, growing up, as was Andre Norton. C.S. Lewis. Isaac Asimov.

Non-genre, and maybe overall, my favorite author as a kid was Arthur Ransome, who wrote a series of sailing-focused books for children called Swallows and Amazons. In Worldshaper, there’s a yacht named Amazon for that very reason!

Modern authors: I never miss a David Weber book (and he’s been on the show!) or one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files adventures. V.E. Schwab (also a guest) is someone I enjoy a lot, and I devoured Peter V. Brett and Kevin Hearne’s series (and they’ve both been on the show, too—this is why I love doing the podcast!). After that, there are all kinds of authors whose work I appreciate. Most of my reading currently is me delving into the books by the authors who are going to be guests on The Worldshapers!






4Q: What attracts you to sci-fi and fantasy writing? 







EW: It’s the ultimate playground of the imagination. There is no idea you can come up with that you can’t find a way to tell in science fiction and fantasy. In science fiction, all of time and space is your mental playground. In fantasy, you’re not even limited by our reality. I can’t imagine limiting myself by not writing science fiction and fantasy.





4Q: You are the recipient of many awards for your writing. Which one(s) thrills you the most?






EW: The Aurora Award I won for Marseguro, my second book for DAW Books, was a huge thrill. My publishers, Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert, were both at the awards dinner (held in conjunction with the World Science Fiction convention in Montreal in 2009). And I got kissed on the cheek by Robert J. Sawyer. How many authors can say that?





4Q: Please share a bit about your editing and mentor services.



EW: I’ve worked as a writer-in-residence for both the Regina and Saskatoon Public Libraries, taught off-campus university writing classes, run many workshops, taught teen writers, edited books and literary magazine...in other words, I’ve spent a long time trying to help other writers. I’m happy to help authors with book editing at all levels, and as a mentor, to work with authors on a longer work they might be working through, offering my suggestions regarding story, characterization, and, of course, language. I had very little access to any kind of mentoring or editing services when I started writing, and I’m thrilled to be able to help other writers now.





4Q: What’s next for Edward Willett, the author?






EW: My next big project is a sprawling space-opera book called The Tangled Stars, which DAW will publish in 2022. I’ve also got a young-adult novel called Star Song coming out soon from my own Shadowpaw Press. This is a book that almost sold in the early 1990s to a major publisher, but the fellow who ran the company died, his son took over, and the son promptly decreed, just as the editor (as she later told me) was about to make on offer on my book, that the company would no longer publish science fiction. It never found a home. I’ve rewritten it completely, start to finish, and look forward to finally bringing it out.

Shadowpaw Press will be bringing out other of my backlist and never-before-published titles as well. It’s also possible, if Worldshapers Book 4 isn’t picked up by DAW, that I’ll continue the series under my own imprint. Book 4 is planned: it’s set in a film noir world.





4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?


 

EW: I’d really encourage everyone to check out The Worldshapers podcast. If you love science fiction and fantasy, and you’re interested in writing, you’ll find an amazing wealth of information there about how the books that have enthralled you come into existence.





 

 

An Excerpt from The Moonlit World

(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)

 

Snarls and howls and bloodcurdling shrieks pursued us up the steep, rock-strewn slope, which I guess was better than being pursued by the things making the snarls and howls and bloodcurdling shrieks...although I was pretty sure they would be pursuing in short order.

My breath came in short gasps as I struggled uphill in Karl’s wake. The trees were sparse and the flat black rocks—shale, I guess—shifted beneath us, sliding downhill with an almighty racket that ensured the creatures below knew we were above them.

The sounds of battle dwindled to nothing. Silence reigned behind us. It wasn’t as comforting as you might think.

At least there’s moonlight, I thought, glancing up. Here, there’s always moonlight. The stars around the moon looked normal, the constellations the ones I knew from my world, presumably the same as those in the First World...though from what Karl had said, these stars weren’t really stars at all, just a very-large-scale stage backdrop to give this pocket universe, this cosmological cul-de-sac, the illusion of infinity.

My thoughts returned abruptly to Earth…this version of it, anyway…as a rather large boulder dislodged by Karl came bounding toward me. “My apologies,” he said over his shoulder.

“No worries,” I said, with a soupçon…perhaps even a dash…of sarcasm. The rock leaped and crashed down the slope behind us for a good fifteen seconds.

And then, suddenly, the slope eased. Ahead of me, Karl straightened, walked a few paces, and stopped. I scrambled up onto the level ground where he stood. Together, we looked at what lay beyond the ridge.

“Wow,” I said at last.

“Succinctly put.”

We stood just a few feet from a sharp drop-off. Spread out before us was more of the valley—a lot more of the valley. It stretched as far as I could see, which was pretty far in the omnipresent moonlight. Fields, forest, rivers, ponds, and hills tumbled away into the indistinct distance.

Directly below us lay a lake, smooth as glass, reflecting the brightest stars and the moon back at us as though it were a mirror. Fields surrounded it and, unlike most of those we’d passed through, appeared cultivated. We could only see half of the lake from our vantage point—we’d have to get closer to the edge to see the rest.

Karl reached for my hand, which surprised me; and I took it, which surprised me even more. “For safety,” he said.

“I’m all for safety.”

Together, we edged forward until we stood at the lip of a cliff that might not have been perfectly sheer but was within spitting distance of it: said spit would fall a long, gut-clenching distance before it hit anything. Directly below us, on the near shore of the lake, stood a village, a cluster of buildings surrounded by a wall of pale stone that shone in the moonlight. A few yellow lights burned here and there.

Other than the castle, it was the first inhabited place we’d seen since entering this world, and considering what had come out of the castle, I thought it reasonable to worry about what might live in the village.

But a howl sounded behind us, and was answered by one of those weird, blood-chilling screams. The werewolves and maybe-vampires were still abroad, and they had to know we’d climbed the ridge. The village had a wall around it. Behind a wall sounded exactly like where I wanted to be. So...

“There is a path,” Karl said. I glanced at him. He wasn’t looking at the village, and following his gaze, I saw what he had seen: two wooden posts, with a gap between them and, sure enough, what looked like the beginning of a trail.

He released my hand and walked carefully over to the posts. I followed. He held on to one post, and I held on to the other, and together, we peered over the edge.

The path descended a couple of hundred feet, switched back, descended another hundred or so, and continued in that fashion on down the rock face. Trees rose between the switchbacks. It looked steep, but not too terrifying...

Another howl.

At least, no more terrifying than whatever was coming up the slope behind us.

“I think we should take our chances with the village below,” Karl said. “Do you agree?”

“Fervently.”

We started down.

You might think, if you have never been pursued through the mountains by monsters, that going down a hill is easier than going up one. You would be almost right. It’s less wear and tear on the heart and lungs and more wear and tear on the legs, which start to ache in short order, and keep on aching. It turns out holding your body back to keep from tumbling headlong is hard work. But that’s what we had to do, because the slope of the path we followed definitely did not adhere to building-code requirements for a wheelchair ramp.

After ten minutes, I would have welcomed a mountainside to climb. After fifteen, I would have welcomed a sharp blow to the head to put me out of my misery. But the path went on and on...and on. Every once in a while a howl or a shriek rent the air, but far enough in the distance they were only mildly alarming, as opposed to breathtakingly terrifying.

Not long after we began the descent, I realized it wasn’t as dark as it had been, that the sky had begun to lighten and the stars to dim. On the one hand, that was a relief, because as day began, based on the previous night’s experience, the maybe-vampires would disappear. If the howling things were werewolves, presumably they’d run off as well.

Of course, if they weren’t werewolves, but just regular (if somewhat oversized and glowing-eyed) wolves, they might actually prefer the light, in which case, we were about to be exposed to everyone...or everything...in the valley.

Including whomever was in the walled village. Smoke now rose from buildings inside the walls, one of which had the unmistakable cruciform shape...not to mention tall bell-tower...of a church. Which was interesting. Did this world have Christian churches?

I hope so, I thought. In the last world, Robur, the Shaper, had set up a religion that worshiped the Shaper...which was all kinds of ick, for my taste.

However, Robur as not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead, so it wasn’t like pretending to be a god had translated into actual godhood. In my world, I’d copied over all the religions of the First World. I myself had grown up going to Sunday School. If this world had some version of Christianity, I’d feel right at home.

Also, a village with a church seemed unlikely to be friendly to either undead bloodsuckers or flesh-eating lycanthropes, so there was that.

We paused to rest our aching...or at least, my aching...legs. I looked back the way I’d come. Nothing. I looked down at the village. “They’re stirring down there,” I said. Traditionally, people seen from a height are said to look like ants, but we weren’t quite that high, so I thought they looked more like cockroaches as they moved the streets and the village square. There was no sign they had seen us.

Karl looked up at the brightening sky. “Between the devil and the deep blue sea,” he said, almost to himself.

“Rock and a hard place,” I put in. “Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Torn between two lovers...”

Karl gave me a look I was becoming accustomed to, equal parts annoyance and...well, annoyance. A touch of amusement would have been a nice change, but I suppose the last of my examples, though it pre-dated my birth, had post-dated him by decades. “Since we’re pretty sure the things chasing us are on the side of the devil,” I hurried on, “I suggest we opt for the deep blue sea. Or at least the smooth black lake.” I pointed down.

A bloodcurdling shriek came from behind us...and above us. I twisted my head around.

Two of the winged things burst into sight, black cutouts of giant bats against the pale sky. “Run!” Karl shouted, leaping to his feet.

Below us, I heard faint shouts: the cockroaches...villagers...had obviously spotted the vampires, too, if that’s what they were. Karl and I charged down the trail, or charged as fast as we could without tumbling head over heels and either breaking our necks or plunging to our deaths...which, unfortunately, wasn’t very fast at all. Certainly not fast enough.

Another shriek, almost on top of us. Karl glanced up. His eyes widened. Then he twisted, grabbed me...and pushed me off the ledge.

 




Thank you, Edward, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.

 




For all you wonderful readers that want to know more about Edward and his writing, please follow these links:

www.edwardwillett.com

www.theworldshapers.com

www.shadowpawpress.com

Twitter: @ewillett

Facebook: @edward.willett

Instagram: @edwardwillettauthor