Happy Monday, everyone! Today I’m excited to welcome Edward Willett, author of The Cityborn, to NovelKnight! His latest novel is a unique dystopian-esque sci-fi that I definitely recommend checking out!
All About Edward
You wrote a book! That’s pretty awesome. Why don’t you tell us a bit about what inspired The Cityborn?
Like most of my books, The Cityborn began with an image: in this case, of a boy scavenging for survival on a giant trash heap, product of a mysterious City. From that initial image, it’s a process rather like an oyster crafting a pearl around a piece of sand: I ask myself questions, and layer by layer, build a world and a story. “What does the City look like?” “Why has its trash piled up like that?” “Why are people living on the trash heap?” “Who lives inside the City?” “Why can’t the boy go into the City?” The answers give me characters, plot, and, eventually, a novel!
Introduce us to your main character!
There are two main characters in The Cityborn. Danyl is the boy living in the trash heap, called the Middens, which fills (to an enormous depth) the Canyon over which the giant metal City looms. Danyl was raised by a mysterious scavenger and actually has it pretty good by Middens standards: he and his guardian live in a compound carved out of the Canyon wall. But the Middens is a dangerous place, home to trashslides and murderous gangs, and just staying alive is a constant battle. Danyl dreams of finding something in the trash he can trade for access to the City, where he hopes to have a better life.
The second main character is Alania, who lives in luxury in the second-highest Tier of the City. She’s a ward of a high-ranking official. She’s also a virtual prisoner, never allowed to leave the City, rarely allowed to leave her palatial home. Her guardian is a cold, distant man. Her dream is to get out from under his control.
After Alania unexpectedly (and almost fatally) literally falls into the Middens, almost at Danyl’s feet, the two find themselves being chased for reasons they must discover if they are to survive—and the choices they make along with way will also determine the fate of the City and everyone who lives there.
Walk us through a day in the life of Edward Willett.
Hm. I usually start the day with social media, reading and posting. If it’s during the school year, I take my daughter to school (and sometimes my wife to work, unless it’s a day we need two cars). Then I write/work on writing-related stuff (like this interview) until it’s time to pick everyone up that needs picking up. I do tend to write out of my home—I’ve got a few favorite coffee shops and pubs where I often work. That’s for fiction. If I’m working on non-fiction (and I write a lot of that, too) I tend to stay in my home office because of the need for keeping research materials close at hand.
Lots of aspiring authors out there. Any advice for them?
Read. Write. Repeat. Try to make everything you write better than the last thing you wrote.
I know asking someone’s all-time favorite book is a loaded question so what’s your current favorite read?
I’m currently reading and very much enjoying V.E. Schwabb’s Shades of Magic trilogy—I’m halfway through the second book, A Gathering of Shadows.
Alright, the ultimate question: why should we read your book?
The Cityborn is a fast-paced, entertaining adventure set in a fascinating world and featuring likeable characters with secret pasts and mysterious futures. Why wouldn’t you want to read something like that?
The Fun Stuff
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Funny singing author.
What is your most embarrassing memory?
Accidentally kissing a girl in Sunday School at age 7 when we happened to turn toward each other at exactly the same second and our lips met. Took months to live that down.
What is your Hogwarts house(s)?
Gryffindor all the way.
Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
Danyl. He’s already living in a dystopian nightmare.
A famous movie producer wants to make your books into movies and they want you to cast your characters. Which actors/actresses make the cut?
I’d cast young unknowns with no personal baggage or audience expectations to overcome.
You just won America’s Got Talent. What’s your talent?
Radioactive space rock fell from the sky and turned you into a superhero/villain. Tell us your new name, describe your powers, and what does your costume look like?
Musical Man. Dressed in top hat and tails, except the hat is bigger on the inside than the out and contain whatever high-tech gizmos I need for my mission. I carry a cane that is also a powerful laser weapon and unbreakable club, which I can twirl fast enough to block bullets. My superpowers? I can fly, although it always looks as though I’m hung on wires; I can tap dance so fast it causes local earthquakes that throw opponents off their feet; I can reduce people to uncontrollable tears or laughter with my singing, both of which incapacitates them; and I can force other people to communicate only through singing, which serves no useful purpose but which I get a kick out of.
This morning you woke up with the ability to time travel to only one time period. Where (or more accurately “when”) would you go?
Palestine in Jesus’s time.
Coffee or tea?
Best ice cream flavor ever?
Mint chocolate chip.
Your theme song/personal anthem?
Bohemian Rhapsody. Just because.
“We act out of hope or fear, and progress depends entirely on our choosing hope.” I have no idea who said it, though, and Google is no help. Maybe it was me.
What is one piece of advice you would tell everyone?
Think for yourself—don’t let others do it for you.
Thank you to Edward Willett for answering our questions! The Cityborn is out TOMORROW, July 4, 2017! Grab your copy from any of the links below!
The Citybornby Edward Willett
Published on July 4, 2017 by Daw Books
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Two young individuals must uncover the dark secrets of their stratified city in this suspenseful sci-fi standalone
The metal City towers at the center of the mountain-ringed Heartland, standing astride the deep chasm of the Canyon like a malevolent giant, ruled with an iron fist by the First Officer and his Provosts in the name of the semi-mythical Captain. Within its corroding walls lies a stratified society, where the Officers dwell in luxury on the Twelfth Tier while the poor struggle to survive on the First and Second, and outcasts scrabble and fight for whatever they can find in the Middens, the City's rubbish heap, filling the Canyon beneath its dripping underbelly.
Alania, ward of an Officer, lives on Twelfth. Raised among the privileged class, Alania feels as though she is some sort of pampered prisoner, never permitted to explore the many levels of the City. And certainly not allowed to leave the confines of the City for any reason. She has everything a young woman could want except a loving family and personal freedom.
Danyl, raised by a scavenger, knows no home but the Middens. His day-to-day responsibility is to stay alive. His sole ambition is to escape from this subsistence existence and gain entrance to the City--so near and yet so far out of reach--in hopes of a better life.
Their two very different worlds collide when Alania, fleeing from an unexpected ambush, plunges from the heights of the City down to the Middens, and into Danyl's life.
Almost immediately, both of them find themselves pursued by the First Officer's Provosts, for reasons they cannot fathom--but which they must uncover if they are to survive. The secrets they unlock, as they flee the Canyon and crisscross the Heartland from the City's farmlands to the mountains of the north and back again, will determine not only their fate, but the fate of the City...and everyone who lives there.