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Connie Willis

Shawna McCarthyConnie Willis is the award-winning author of DOOMSDAY BOOK, TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, BELLWETHER, LINCOLN'S DREAMS, and the upcoming ALL CLEAR.  She has won more Nebula and Hugo writing awards than any other science fiction author, and is the first author to ever have won both the Nebula and Hugo in all four writing categories. She was named Best Science Fiction Author of the Nineties by LOCUS Magazine.  Her most recent books are ALL SEATED ON THE GROUND, D.A., and her short story collection, THE WINDS OF MARBLE ARCH AND OTHER STORIES.  She is just finished her  two-volume novel--BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR--about time travel to World War II and is currently working on a short story about a robot who wants to be a Rockette. 

CONNIE WILLIS ON CONNIE WILLIS

I have been writing since they landed on the moon and spent the long years of trying to break into science fiction writing confession stories like "I Called for Help on My CB and Got a Rapist Instead" and "While My Husband Took the Kids to Church, I frayed We Wouldn't Get Caught," and collectiong rejection slips for my SF stories (I have one from John W. Campbell.) 

I started out by writing short stories and have always considered myself a short story writer who occasionally gets carried away and writes a novel.  (I really got carried away on ALL CLEAR, which is going to be more than one volume.)  To me, the short story is the heart and soul of science fiction, and it is the short stories that are my favorites, from "Flowers for Algernon" to "The Big Pat Boom" to "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" to "It's a Good Life." 

The other huge influence on my writing life was Robert A. Heinlein's early novels, especially HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, which was the first SF novel I ever read, and TIME FOR THE STARS and THE DOOR INTO SUMMER.  I loved him because of his humor and his down-to-earth futures (and his love stories:  I am convinced that somewhere, sometime Peewee Reisfield married Kip Russell) and best of all, because his characters were so smart!  They were interested in everything, and they thought the universe was first and foremost an amazingly fascinating place, and so do I.

I also think it's a pretty hilarious place, which is why I write a lot of comedy and also read it a lot.  I love Jerome K. Jerome (who I read at thirteen, right after I read HAVE SPACE SUIT, because Heinlein mentions him in the book) and P.G. Wodehouse, Damon Runyon, KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, the RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY books, and Calvin Trillin.  I also love Agatha Christie, who's so good at plotting, and Trollope, and Mary Stewart, and Thornton Wilder, and am convinced heaven is a public library where you get to read forever.  I am requesting that a couple of books be put in my coffin, just in case I'm wrong about that.

I also love going to the movies--from SPIDERMAN to LOVE, ACTUALLY to THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK.  I especially love old screwball comedies and musicals, like HIS GIRL FRIDAY and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, and, as you can imagine, from the moment I heard the opening credits of WALL-E, I was in love with it.  I came straight home and watched HELLO, DOLLY all over again and have been raving ever since about how great WALL-E is.  It's got everything I've always loved about classic SF--humor, romance, outer space, social commentary, heart-stopping danger.  Plus a heroine who'll shoot you as soon as look at you.  And square-dancing.  And gnomes.

I also love TV, which is going through some sort of bizarre Renaissance right now, with FIREFLY and HOUSE and THE OFFICE.  I'm also a political junkie.  (I have only been addicted to politics twice in my very long life, during Watergate and now.  Do I detect a pattern here?)

I also love Edward Norton, counted cross-stitch, Stephen Sondheim, chocolate, grits, and Keith Olbermann, not necessarily in that order.  I am still made at Harrison Ford for abandoning his middle-aged wife and going off with a stick-insect, though I have declared a truce until the new Indy movie is no longer in movies and I have bought the DVD.

By the time you read this I will either have finished my new two-volume novel ALL CLEAR or died trying.  It's a sprawling time travel novel set in World War II and involving Dunkirt, evacuated children, Ultra, the Blitz, V-2 rockets, and D-Day, not necessarily in that order.  My next projects involve a story about paper dolls and one about a robot who wants to be a Rockette and a comic novel about Roswell and alien abduction.

Visit her online at www.sftv.org/cw/

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Last updated: 5/17/11
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