Shetterly, Will 1955–
Shetterly, Will 1955–
(William Howard Shetterly)
Born August 22, 1955, in Columbia, SC; son of Bob E. (an entrepreneur) and Joan Mary (an entrepreneur) Shetterly; married Emma L. Bull (a writer, editor, and publisher), October 17, 1981. Education: Attended New College of the University of South Florida, 1973-74; Beloit College, B.A., 1976. Politics: "Whimsical." Religion: "Disorganized."
Home—Tucson, AZ. Agent—Valerie Smith, P.O. Box 278, Milford, PA 18337. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, editor, and publisher. Berkley Publishing Corp., New York City, editorial assistant, 1976; actor in New York City, 1977-78; Albany River Outfitters, New Osnaburgh, Ontario, entrepreneur, 1979-83; Steel-Dragon Press, Minneapolis, MN, publisher, beginning 1984. With wife, Emma Bull, conducts writing workshops. Ran for governor of Minnesota in 1994.
Science Fiction Writers of America, Interstate Writers Workshop (also known as the Scribblies).
Minnesota Book Award for Fantasy and Science Fiction, for Elsewhere.
Cats Have No Lord, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Witch Blood, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1986.
The Tangled Lands, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Dogland, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Chimera, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.
Thor's Hammer, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.
The Gospel of the Knife, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2007.
EDITOR OF ANTHOLOGIES
(With wife, Emma Bull) Liavek, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
(And contributor, with Emma Bull) Liavek: The Players of Luck, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1986.
(With Emma Bull) Liavek: Wizard's Row, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1987.
(With Emma Bull) Liavek: Festival Week, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Emma Bull) Liavek: Spells of Binding, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1990.
(With Emma Bull) Double Feature (short stories), NESFA Press (Framingham, MA), 1994.
(With Emma Bull) Nightspeeder: The Screenplay, Hollywood Comics (Encino, CA), 2004.
Also author of short stories published in anthologies, including "Bound Things," in Liavek, Ace Books; "A Happy Birthday," in Liavek: The Players of Luck, Ace Books; (with Emma Bull) "Danceland," in Bordertown, edited by Terri Windling, Signet/Tor; "Six Days Outside the Year," in Liavek: Grand Festival, Ace Books; "Nevernever," in Life on the Border, edited by Terri Winding, Tor; "Time Travel, the Artifact, and a Significant Historical Personage," in Xanadu, edited by Jane Yolen, Tor; "Oldthings," in Xanadu 2, edited by Jane Yolen, Tor; "The Princess Who Kicked Butt," in A Wizard's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt Brace, 1993, and in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Seventh Annual Edition, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, St. Martin's Press; "Brian and the Aliens," in Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens: Tales to Warp Your Mind, edited by Bruce Coville, Scholastic; "Dream Catcher," in The Armless Maiden, edited by Terri Windling, Tor; "Taken He Cannot Be," in PeterBeagle's Immortal Unicorn, edited by Peter Beagle, Harperprism; "Secret Identity," in Starfarer's Dozen, edited by Michael Stearns, Harcourt Brace; "Splatter," in The Sandman Book of Dreams, edited by N. Gaiman & E. Kramer, HarperPrism; "Little Red and the Big Bad," Swan Sister, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Simon & Shuster; and "Black Rock Blues," The Coyote Road, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Viking. Author of comic books and graphic albums, including Captain Confederacy, nos. 1-4, Epic/Marvel Comics; "Home Is a Hard Place," Open Space, no. 3, Marvel Comics; Captain Confederacy, nos. 1-12, SteelDragon Press; "In Charge," Grimjack, #39, First Comics. Also author of screenplays and television scripts, including William Tell, with Emma Bulland Don Helverson, optioned for film; and Masters of Earth, written with Emma Bull, a TV series Bible commissioned by the SciFi Channel.
Also author of blog, Will Shetterly Web log.
Dogland has been optioned for film.
Will Shetterly discovered his love for storytelling in the first grade, when he began creating comic book stories. Later, he enjoyed reading mythology and the works of science-fiction authors such as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein. He attributes his appreciation for fantasy, however, to the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
In the young-adult novel Elsewhere, Shetterly introduces Ron Starbuck, a teenager who runs away from home, supposedly to search for his brother, who has in reality committed suicide. Ron's real quest is to understand his brother's decision and to regain a sense of his own identity. He takes a job at Elsewhere, a bookstore positioned between the human and elf worlds. The action involves gangs, bikers, prejudice, drugs, and magic. Polly Shulman, writing in the Voice Literary Supplement, praised Shetterly for telling the story of "Ron's troubled journey with skill and conviction."
The sequel to Elsewhere, Nevernever, finds Ron under a spell that has turned him into a werewolf-like creature. During the course of helping one friend who is being framed for murder and another who has been kidnapped, Ron discovers a way to break the spell. While critics agreed that readers unfamiliar with Elsewhere will find Nevernever confusing, they praised it for its exciting plot and fast pace. A contributor to the School Library Journal remarked: "This is cyberpunk fantasy, where magic, teenage gangs, elvish whimsy, rock-and-roll, and adolescent angst blend into a sometimes murky but always lively plot."
Written for adults, Dogland is told from the point of view of four-year-old Chris Nix, who has moved to Florida with his family in 1959. His father, Luke, plans to open a tourist attraction featuring more than one hundred breeds of dogs, but his liberal beliefs regarding religion and race clash with the local culture. The conflict between the town's Klan members and Luke, who accepts African Americans, coincides with the struggles of the civil rights era. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote: "In this poignant coming-of-age tale, pearls of childhood memory are strung on a fine strand of fantasy."
In his novel Chimera, Shetterly "combines fast-paced action and wisecracking heroes," according to Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada. Borrowing from the noir detective genre, the science fiction story features a population of chimeras who have been created via genetic manipulation that involves splicing human and animal DNA. Although they speak and act like humans, the chimeras are treated as virtual slaves, used for everything from servants and laborers to soldiers and sex objects. Private detective Chase Maxwell takes on Zoe Domingo as a client. Zoe is half jaguar and half human and has been accused of murdering her former owner. Soon Chase finds himself accused of being Zoe's accomplice in the murder, and both go into hiding while Chase tries to figure out how to prove their innocence. "Chimera is a fast-paced action novel with likable protagonists in a colorful future world, and overall a pleasurable read," wrote D. Douglas Fratz of Sci Fi Weekly. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Plenty of action, engaging characters and multilayered intrigue keep this story humming."
Christopher Nix from Dogland returns in Shetterly's 2007 novel, The Gospel of the Knife. Referred to as "a good, thought-provoking novel" by Douglas R. Cobb in a review for Curled Up with a Good Book, The Gospel of the Knife takes place in 1969. The Nix family gets an offer from a mysterious benefactor to send Chris—who has taken on the hippie lifestyle complete with drug use and a stint running away from home— to an expensive private school. The benefactor, Jay Dumon, says that Chris's grandfather saved his life during World War I and that he is seeking to repay the debt. However, Dumont has an ulterior motive. At the school, Chris learns that he is really a sacred being in a human form. As an "elohim," Chris discovers his god-like powers and then must decide what path his life will take. Told in the second-person, present-tense, the story is divided into four books: the time before Chris learns of his true identity, his life at school, another story focusing on Chris's sacred bloodline, and the final book about the decisions Chris makes.
"Patient readers will find much to ponder … as Chris struggles to do what is right," wrote Krista Hurley in a review of The Gospel of the Knife in Booklist. Jackie Cassada noted in the Library Journal that the "compelling coming-of-age story is also a cautionary tale of power."
Shetterly once told CA: "A desperate need for money has always been a considerable asset in beginning and completing an artistically satisfying work. I don't know why I write. Perhaps it's because writing allows more procrastination than any other occupation. If I have a primary theme, it's redemption; I hope this is always present and never explicit in my work." About the Liavek anthologies, he commented: "Too much fantasy being published today is about jerks with swords—stories that consist of adventure without responsibility. We try to offer well-written stories set in a fantastical world that entertains while telling something honest about what it means to be human in any world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press, 1996.
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Krista Hutley, review of The Gospel of the Knife, p. 42.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of The Gospel of the Knife.
Library Journal, June 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Chimera, p. 121; July 1, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of The Gospel of the Knife, p. 82.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January, 1998, Michelle West, review of Dogland, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1985, Sally A. Lodge, review of Liavek, p. 70; July 31, 1987, John Mutter, review of Liavek: Wizard's Row, p. 73; May 19, 1997, review of Dogland, p. 68; June 5, 2000, review of Chimera, p. 77.
School Library Journal, August, 1995, review of Nevernever, p. 38.
Voice Literary Supplement, February, 1992, Polly Shulman, review of Elsewhere, p. 19.
BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (April 11, 2008), Sally Selvadurai, review of The Gospel of the Knife.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (April 11, 2008), Douglas R. Cobb, review of The Gospel of the Knife.
Nightspeeder Web site, http://www.nightspeeder.com/ (April 11, 2008), brief profile of author.
Sci Fi Weekly, http://www.scifi.com/sfw/ (April 11, 2008), D. Douglas Fratz, review of Chimera.