Today I am interviewing Edward Willett, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Cityborn.
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DJ: Hey Edward! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Edward Willet: Sure! I’m the author of more than fifty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages. I was born in New Mexico, started school in Texas, and then moved to Saskatchewan when I was a kid. I grew up in the small city of Weyburn, where I returned after studying journalism at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and began my writing career as a reporter/photographer and eventually news editor of the weekly Weyburn Review. I moved to Regina, the provincial capital (where I’ve lived ever since), in 1988 as communications officer for the then-fledgling Saskatchewan Science Centre, then in 1993 I quit my job to become a fulltime freelance writer. My first book was the riveting Using Microsoft Publisher for Windows 95. (My second book was the equally riveting sequel, Using Microsoft Publisher for Windows 97.) My first novel, a young adult fantasy entitled Soulworm, came out in 1997, and my fiction ever since has been a mixture of young adult and adult science fiction and fantasy, while my non-fiction has run the gamut from children’s biographies (of people as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Andy Warhol, Johnny Cash and the Ayatollah Khomeini), to science books and books about Saskatchewan history. I won a Saskatchewan Book Award in 2002 for my YA fantasy Spirit Singer (Tyche Books), and in 2009 I won the Aurora Award for best Canadian science fiction novel in English for Marseguro, which was my second science fiction novel for DAW Books, after 2005’s Lost in Translation. The Cityborn is my eighth novel published by DAW, but only the fourth under my own name: I wrote the steampunkish adult fantasy novel Magebane as Lee Arthur Chane, and the YA/adult crossover fantasy trilogy The Masks of Aygrima as E.C. Blake. I’m married to an engineer (a good career move for a freelance writer) and have a brilliant and talented teenaged daughter. Oh, and in addition to being a writer, I’m an actor and singer who has performed in numerous plays, musicals, and operas, both professionally and just for fun.
DJ: What is The Cityborn about?
Edward: The Cityborn takes place in the mountain-ringed Heartland, which is split down the middle by the great Canyon. At the center of the Heartland, straddling the Canyon, stands the towering, dripping, corroding and crumbling metal City, divided into thirteen Tiers. The City is ruled by the First Officer in the name of the semi-mythical Captain, who supposedly lives on the top Tier but nobody has ever seen. The First Officer’s rule is enforced by the ruthless armed Provosts and enabled by the other Officers, who live luxuriously in the Twelfth and Eleventh Tiers. Meanwhile, at the base of the City, the poor struggle just to get by in the First and Second Tiers. (The middle class lives, appropriately enough, in the middle Tiers.)
The City has stood above the Canyon so long that it has filled the chasm with rubbish, a dangerous, gang-ruled wasteland called the Middens, where criminals and outcasts are trapped, scavenging to survive. When Alania, raised by cold, distant Officer on the Twelfth Tier, is unexpectedly attacked, she flees into a nearby trash elevator, and to her horror finds herself dumped into the Middens. There she is rescued by Danyl, a young man who has lived his whole life in the the Middens and dreams only of finding valuable salvage he can barter for entry into the City. He thinks Alania might be just what he’s looking for—except almost at once they find themselves pursued by Provosts, for reasons they can’t imagine. As they flee deep into the Canyon, then into the Heartland, to the mountains of the north and back to the City again, the secrets they discover about who and what they really are, and the decisions they make because of those secrets, will determine not only their fates, but the fate of everyone in the Heartland. Continue reading