“Great world-building, a fantasy feel with an SF twist, admirable characters, and the themes of courage and truth above all make (Blue Fire) a wonderful YA read. I know my teen will really enjoy it.” – Book Horde
“Though many YA fantasies are coming-of-age novels, this one is different in that perhaps it’s time not only for the young protagonists to take on active, responsible roles, but for their communities at large to leave behind old behaviours and interactions . . . In a few images, (Blake) presents the differing communities of his protagonists, making these young people and their surroundings distinct and memorable . . . Anyone who can write with such immediacy about light, rain, and mystic discipline has my attention!” – Paula Johanson, author of Tower in a Crooked Wood
“I really loved this book a whole lot, I fell in love with all three of these individuals…I really loved all three of their relationships…an awesome and fun book to read.” – Lori’s Little House of Reviews
And here’s the blurb:
From the author of the acclaimed fantasy trilogy The Masks of Agyrima, published by DAW Books, comes another epic YA fantasy adventure.
Centuries ago, the people of Nevyana were forced to leave their old kingdom across the sea after it was devastated by the War of the Twelve Gods. The only three Gods to survive that war, Vekrin of the Earth, Arrica of the Sun, and Ell of the Moon, agreed to leave the affairs of men alone–but not until they gave their followers a few final magical Gifts.
Vekrin and Arrica gave their followers the gift of Blue Fire, a powerful force that could provide light, heat, and protection–or be turned into a powerful weapon. But Ell chose instead to utterly transform her followers into the almost feline Nightdwellers, nocturnal creatures with fur, teeth, and claws.
Enmity quickly arose among the three groups, and now the Nightdwellers rule the night, killing any ordinary humans they catch out after sunset. Vekrin’s followers became the Citydwellers, retreating behind stout walls of stone, protected by the Blue Fire-powered firelances of the Priests. And Arrica’s followers became the Freefolk, able to travel through the wilderness protected by a Fence of Blue Fire, but always in danger of Nightdweller attack.
When sacred objects for channelling Blue Fire are stolen, three sworn enemies, Petra of the Citydwellers, Amlinn of the Freefolk, and Jin of the Nightdwellers, set out to find them, and their paths converge on a collision course with the truth. Can they bridge the centuries-old divisions among their communities? Or will their search for the truth and the explosive power of Blue Fire signal the end of Nevyana?
The original publisher of The Shards of Excalibur, Coteau Books, has sadly gone out of business. That’s the bad news. The good news is, brand-new editions of The Shards of Excalibur are now in the works, published under the auspices of Shadowpaw Press, with new print editions to follow. Designer Tania Craan has graciously allowed me to continue using her wonderful covers–you can see why I didn’t want to replace those! Links to where you can buy the new versions (plus the existing, wonderful audiobooks, narrated by Elizabeth Klett) are above.
These are the Coteau Books editions. With the recent demise of Coteau Books, new editions of all five books in the series will be forthcoming from Shadowpaw Press, starting with new ebook editions. The first of these, Song of the Sword, is now available from Shadowpaw Press for just CDN $3.99. Once all five books are available in the new ebook editions, they’ll migrate to the major online retailers.
New print editions for online retailers will follow.
Through Shadowpaw Press, I’ve released a new, revised edition of Spirit Singer, my young adult fantasy, first published in 2002, that won multiple awards: a Saskatchewan Book Award (the Regina Book Award for best book by a Regina author), an EPPIE Award for best electronically published young adult novel, and a Dream Realm Award (young adult category) for best electronically published science fiction, fantasy, or horror.
Spirit Singer was first published in 2002 by Awe-Struck E-Books, and brought out in a print edition by their offshoot, Earthling Press. In 2013, a new edition, published by Tyche Books, was released. I regained the rights to the book last year and decided to make it the third title released by Shadowpaw Press, in the hope that a new generation of readers will find and enjoy it.
I also took the opportunity to make some minor revisions, cleaning up the writing with the benefit of another twenty years’ of experience since it was first drafted. The result is a book I’m proud to re-release into the wild.
Spirit Singer is available in in all ebook formats now, either directly from Shadowpaw Press or your favorite online retailer, and the new 244-page paperback edition will be available April 30, again through all online bookstores or through your own local bookstore–or direct from Shadowpaw Press.
Here’s the synopsis:
AMARYNTH IS A SPIRIT SINGER, gifted – or cursed, as she sometimes thinks – with the ability to lead the spirits of the dead from the Lower World through the Between World to the Gate of the Upper World and the Light that lies beyond it.
While she is still an apprentice. her grandfather and tutor is slain by a mysterious creature in the Between World, an evil Beast blocking access to the Upper World’s Gate. Without a Spirit Singer, her village cannot survive, so Amarynth embarks on a hazardous quest to find out what the Beast is, how it can be defeated, and how she can become a full-fledged Spirit Singer – a quest that takes her not only from her tiny seacoast home to the city of Havenheart and the haunted mountains of the south, but across the even more rugged terrain of her own soul.
It had some nice reviews when it first came out (and later):
“…deserved the Saskatchewan Book Award it won. Aimed for the early to mid-teen group, Spirit Singer is a strong, well-written book with great adventure and sympathetic characters. Willett’s book has fast-paced adventure, sword-play, ghostly help, kidnappings, automatons who serve pure evil, royalty and brave commoners…Spirit Singer holds more than just solid characters and an exciting plot. It is about deception, both external and internal, in the eternal search for love and acceptance. It is about the need to accept oneself to be able to move forward and achieve great things and the need to be wise and discerning about others.” – Lynn (J.R.) Wytenbroek
“This is a fast-paced, spiritual quest book, full of narrow escapes, evil masquerading as good, good appearing in nasty people (just like in real life!), adventure, dreams and bits of wisdom. The writing is spare and the words well-chosen, so that complex characters and interesting places emerge full-blown in the reader’s mind, and the plot moves apace. I felt always in the story, and not a mere spectator/reader. Written for teenagers, but this 50-something guy had a great time.” – David Waltner-Toews
“Clearly defined characters, setting & plot carry a reader eagerly from page to page through adventure-filled chapters that deftly conclude with cliff-hangers…The plot is fast-paced and clever, the writing never disappoints and the author clearly keeps his target audience in mind. A great read from start to finish.” – Shirlee Matheson
“…a fun novel with engaging characters and having all the basic elements of a good fantasy…young readers would likely get much more out of this book in terms of good succinct plotting and writing than they’d ever be likely to from the droves of role-playing game tie-ins and fat fantasy trilogies.” – Georges T. Dodds
“This book takes the reader on a magical journey to a mystical land, and all within a hundred pages…It is a quick, but very satisfying read; I spent any free time I had reading over the two days it took me to read the story. I recommend this book for anyone that is in the mood for an adventure…Spirit Singer definitely does not disappoint.” – Amy Mehta
“Spirit Singer is a magical, mystical journey…very satisfying. The talented Mr. Willett has given us a well-written fantasy that you won’t want to put down. I highly recommend Spirit Singer to young and old alike.” – Carol Durfee, Senior Editor
Buy a copy for yourself or get one for a young person in your life!
Shapers of Worlds Volume II will feature new fiction from Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Helen Dale, Candas Jane Dorsey, Lisa Foiles, Susan Forest, James Alan Gardner, Matthew Hughes, Heli Kennedy, Lisa Kessler, Adria Laycraft, Ira Nayman, Garth Nix, Tim Pratt, Edward Savio, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jeremy Szal, and Edward Willett, plus stories by Jeffrey A. Carver, Barbara Hambly, Nancy Kress, David D. Levine, S.M. Stirling, and Carrie Vaughn. Among those authors are winners and nominees for every major science fiction and fantasy literary award, plus several international bestsellers.
Shapers of Worlds Volume II is a follow-up to Shapers of Worlds, successfully Kickstarted one year ago, which featured authors who were guests during the first year of The Worldshapers podcast.
That anthology included new fiction 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 reprints from John Scalzi, Joe Haldeman, David Brin, Julie E. Czerneda, Fonda Lee, Gareth L. Powell, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer.
February 17 is I Read Canadian Day, and to promote Canadian books and bookstores, a number of children’s authors across the country posted videos drawing attention to that fact and to a local bookstore–as well, of course, as their own books.
Here’s the one I did, on the frozen shores of Wascana Lake here in Regina, right where the plot of my young adult fantasy series The Shards of Excalibur kicks off when the Lady of the Lake shows up . . .
September 15 was the release date for The Moonlit World, Book 3 in my adult Worldshapers series from DAW Books. (I say it’s an adult series because that’s how it’s published, but it’s older-teen-friendly: the first two books in the series, Worldshaper and Master of the World, were longlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic in the Young Adult category.) Have you got your copy yet? It’s available in both trade paperback and electronic format.
“Willett continues to use his innovative worldbuilding to play with genre tropes; there’s a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness to this desolate world that will please fans of dark fiction…entertaining.” – Publishers Weekly
“Shawna…is a great heroine…There were some very good secondary characters…The Moonlit World was a detailed, exciting, and entertaining story.” – The Reading Cafe
“What a gripping fantasy and sci-fi world this author has crafted. Although I’m new to this series, I immediately felt enthralled by the larger than life mythos of this series and the wonderful world-building the author has done here…A powerful, lengthy yet entertaining sci-fi and fantasy epic. Rating: 10/10.“ – Anthony Avina
“All of the myriad aspects of Edward Willett’s talent are obvious in this terrific blend of fantasy, references to great literature and history, and imagination proffered with a keen comedic sensitivity. He here further establishes his stance as one of our more important authors. Highly Recommended.” – Grady Harp
And just for completeness, the blurb, one more time:
The third book in the Worldshaper portal fantasy series by an Aurora Award-winning author, in which one woman’s powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions.
Fresh from their adventures in a world inspired by Jules Verne, Shawna Keys and Karl Yatsar find themselves in a world that mirrors much darker tales. Beneath a full moon that hangs motionless in the sky, they’re forced to flee terrifying creatures that can only be vampires…only to run straight into a pack of werewolves.
As the lycanthropes and undead battle, Karl is spirited away to the castle of the vampire queen. Meanwhile, Shawna finds short-lived refuge in a fortified village, where she learns that something has gone horribly wrong with the world in which she finds herself. Once, werewolves, vampires, and humans lived there harmoniously. Now every group is set against every other, and entire villages are being mysteriously emptied of people.
Somehow, Karl and Shawna must reunite, discover the mysteries of the Shaping of this strange world, and escape it for the next, without being sucked dry, devoured, or—worst of all—turned into creatures of the night themselves.
Beneath the frozen, gibbous moon, allies, enemies, surprises, adventures, and unsettling revelations await.
The latest release from my Shadowpaw Press is the completely revised new edition of Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, Book 1, now titled From the Street to the Stars.
Buy it now as an ebook on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. (I’ll add more links as it shows up in other online stores.) A print version will be forthcoming in due course.
Originally published by Roussan Publishers in 1999, this far-future young-adult science fiction adventure was a finalist for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award and was an Our Choice selection of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
It had some great reviews, but my favorite was this one from a young reader’s book report, which I found online:
“The book is like Star Wars plus drug dealers plus rock stars all joined into one book. If you like to read about that stuff then you will love this book…This is a cool book so check it out!”
Here’s the blurb:
After a lifetime of sleeping in alleys and flophouses, Kit’s musical talent is discovered, and he is remade into Andy Nebula.
Well-fed, content with a warm bed and contract, Andy begins to wonder why every previous “Sensation Single” star was a flash-in-the-pan. Little does he know that the answer lies with the off-world Hydras and their taste for music and flash, a drug forbidden to humans…and that he is their next fix.
Originally published as Andy Nebula: Interstellar Rock Star, this exciting outer-space teen adventure has been completely revised by the author for this new edition.
And here are some more reviews:
“The action in Andy Nebula moves along at a cracking pace and the characters are well-drawn…Andy Nebula is fast and furious enough to keep even reluctant readers turning the pages, and young teen fans of fantasy and science fiction will not be disappointed.” – John Wilson, Quill & Quire
“… gritty and clever…Willett tells a fast-moving tale that has plenty of colour. He wastes few words and presents some good characterizations…All in all, a worthy addition to a young reader’s shelf of SF books.” – A. L. Sirois, SF Site
“It’s the combination of the familiar with the speculative that lifts Andy Nebula above the crowd…From page one we know we are in another time and place thanks to Willett’s deft and never-faltering use of a convincing invented slang…Get one copy for yourself, and another for a young person.” – Donna Farley, NCF Guide to Canadian Science Fiction and Fandom
“Willett writes in a humorous and flamboyant style not unlike an old-style detective novel…The novel is fast and exciting with lots of action. It also involves broader themes like differentiating between the authentic and the contrived, values and measuring success, drug addiction and tolerance between species…The writing is trim and humourous but far from vacuous. This book is fun to read. Kids will like it, too.” – Jocolyn Caton, The Regina Sun
Master of the World is on the list in the Young Adult Fiction category, the same category Worldshaper was longlisted in last year. This puzzles me somewhat, since both books were published as adult novels and neither has a teenaged character, but I’m still honoured.
The Sunburst is an annual award celebrating the best in Canadian “fantastika” published during the previous calendar year. Winners receive a medallion that incorporates the Sunburst logo. Winners of both the Adult and Young Adult Sunburst Award also receive a cash prize of $1,000, while winners of the Short Story Award receive a cash prize of $500.
The Sunburst Award takes its name from the debut novel of the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian Speculative Fiction.
The Sunburst official shortlist will be announced in July. Sunburst winners will be announced in September.
Jurors for the 2020 Award are: Peter Darbyshire , Kristyn Dunnion, Omar El Akkad, Michelle Butler Hallett, John Jantunen, Michael Johnstone, Ursula Pflug, and Sarah Tolmie.
Here’s the complete longist, with links to publishers, books, and stories (where possible):
The Kickstarter campaign to fund Shapers of Worlds, an anthology of short stories from some of the authors who were guests my podcast, The Worldshapers, in its first year, was rousing success–which means this book will become a reality this summer.
I’ve always loved talking to other writers about their creative process, so for my podcast, basically, I just decided to record those conversations. I reached out to some of the many amazing writers I’ve met in my years in the field, and lo and behold, they agreed to be my guests.
As a result, the first year of The Worldshapers features some of the best writers in the genre, starting with John Scalzi, Robert J. Sawyer, and Tanya Huff in my first weekend. Since then, I’ve talked to many, many more. And in October, The Worldshapers won an Aurora Award (Canada’s top fan-nominated-and-voted-on science fiction award) for Best Fan Related Work.
Not long before I started the podcast, I also started my own publishing company, Shadowpaw Press (named after our black Siberian cat), and it occurred to me that I had a golden opportunity, thanks to my conversations with all these great writers, to bring some of them together under one anthological roof. That was the inspiration for Shapers of Worlds: to showcase the work of some of the amazing authors I’ve been honored to interview.
Shapers of Worlds will feature:
New fiction from…
TANYA HUFF, whose diverse array of novels ranges from the highly popular Blood books, which mix vampires, fantasy, and romance and were the basis of the TV series Blood Ties, to the Torin Kerr military SF novels, and the humorous fantasies of The Keeper Chronicles. Her publisher is DAW Books, and in the US alone, according to her agent, more than 1.2 million copies of her work are in print.
JOHN C. WRIGHT, Nebula, Hugo, and Hugo Award-nominated author of some twenty-two novels, including the critically acclaimed The Golden Age and Count to a Trillion. His novel Somewhither won the Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 2016. He’s also published numerous short stories and anthologies, as well as non-fiction.
EDWARD WILLETT, Aurora Award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages, including the Worldshapers series, the Masks of Aygrima fantasy trilogy, written as E.C. Blake, and the stand-alone science fiction novel The Cityborn (all from DAW Books) and the five-book Shards of Excalibur YA fantasy series for Coteau Books.
JOHN SCALZI, New York Times best seller in fiction, winner of the Hugo, the Locus, the Audie, the Seiun and the Kurd Lasswitz awards, and recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio, with works translated into twenty-plus languages; also Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series, writer for the video game Midnight Star, by Industrial Toys, executive Producer for Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire, both currently in development for film/TV, and writer of three short stories adapted into episodes of the Netflix series Love, Death + Robots.
JULIE CZERNEDA, author of many novels for DAW Books, including the popular nine-book The Clan Chronicles series. She’s also written many short stories, edited anthologies, and taught writing. Her books have received international acclaim, multiple awards, and bestselling status.
DR. CHARLES E. GANNON, whose Caine Riordan/Terran Republic hard science fiction novels, published by Baen Books, have all been national best-sellers, and include four finalists for the Nebula, two for the Dragon Award, and a Compton Crook winner. He has also collaborated with Eric Flint in the New York Times– and Wall Street Journal–bestselling Ring of Fire series, worked in the Starfire, Black Tide Rising, Honor Harrington, and Man-Kzin universes, and written many works of short fiction.
This is the second year I’ve been shortlisted in this category: my short-story collection Paths to the Stars was, too.
Master of the World is my ninth book to be shortlisted for a Saskatchewan Book Award. I won the Regina Book Award in 2002 for my young-adult fantasy Spirit Singer, which I re-released last year from Shadowpaw Press.