I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust, the new poetry collection by award-winning Saskatchewan author Edward Willett, features twenty-one fantastical poems—science fiction, fantasy, and horror—beautifully illustrated with full-page black-and-white drawing by his niece, northern Alberta artist Wendi Nordell, from the northern Alberta town of Wembley.
Nordell found the work challenging—but also very enjoyable. “I feel it’s good for an artist to try to do something different from their regular material, and out of their comfort zone,” she says. “I am generally a fantasy artist, preferring fairies and mermaids to robots and aliens, but my uncle’s work is fantastical enough that I had quite a bit of fun trying to come up with images I felt would express the poems’ storylines.”
Nordell notes that her uncle wouldn’t give her any clues as to what he envisioned, preferring to let her interpret the poems as she saw fit. “That was challenging because I didn’t want to go against his vision: but not once did he tell me that I was wrong.”
The poems in the book are also unusual in that they were the direct result of a challenge issued in April 2016 (Poetry Month) by the former poet laureate of Saskatchewan, Gerald Hill. Each weekday that month, Hill emailed to all members of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild two lines of
poetry from published work by Saskatchewan poets. The challenge was to create new work either incorporating or responding to those lines. Willett wrote a new poem incorporating the proffered lines each day: 21 poems in all, now collected and illustrated in I Tumble Through the Diamond Dust. Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Press of Regina, and available through Chapters/Indigo and the publisher in paperback, and in ebook format from most online bookstores.
“I am grateful and fortunate to have been able to collaborate on my first published project with a talented, established author such as my uncle,” Nordell says. “It has me actively pursuing my next project.”
Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of fantasy, science fiction, and non-fiction for all ages. He won Canada’s top science fiction award, the Aurora Award, for Best Long-Form Work in English in 2009 for Marseguro (DAW Books); the sequel, Terra Insegura, was shortlisted for the same award. Other science fiction books from DAW include Lost in Translation, The Cityborn, and the upcoming Worldshaper (September 2018), which will launch a new series. He’s also the author of the fantasy novels Magebane (written as Lee Arthur Chane) and the Masks of Aygrima trilogy (written as E.C. Blake). Other titles include the five-book Shards of Excalibur series for Regina’s Coteau Books, and the young adult fantasy Spirit Singer, which won the Regina Book Award at the 2002 Saskatchewan Book Awards.
Ed began his career as a reporter, photographer, columnist, cartoonist, and eventually editor for the Weyburn Review, then spent five years as communications officer for the then-fledgling Saskatchewan Science Centre. He’s been a full-time freelance writer (and actor and singer) for twenty-five years. His nonfiction runs the gamut from science books and biographies to local history. He lives in Regina with his wife, Margaret Anne Hodges, P.Eng., their teenaged daughter, Alice, and their black Siberian cat, Shadowpaw.”
Find Edward online at www.edwardwillett.com, or follow him on Twitter @ewillett.
Wendi Nordell currently lives in northern Alberta with her husband, two dogs, a cat, six chickens, and occasionally one or more of her three adult children.
Wendi has been drawing since she was a child: she claims to have never been bored as long as there was a pen or pencil and a blank surface to draw on. Her parents were always supportive of her artistic pursuits and even allowed murals to be created on bedroom walls in the family home
when she was a teenager. She always has a sketchbook with her, and if she isn’t actively drawing or painting, she is thinking about it.
Wendi was thrilled when her uncle, Edward Willett, approached her about collaborating on this project. She shares a passion with her uncle for fictitious characters and events, and although this is her first time drawing science-fiction-based illustrations, she has found them very rewarding to create.
You can find Wendi online on Instagram (wendinordellart) and Facebook (Wendi Nordell Art).