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Apr 03

C is for Connie Willis

In today’s continuation of the A-Z Challenge, I give you:

C is for Connie Willis

connie willis

Connie Willis at the 2014 Locus Awards.

Connie Willis is phenomenal. Inspirational. Amazing and then some! If I can be even half as bad-ass as she is at her age, I’d be incredibly happy.

I stumbled upon her works in college rather than middle school (when I devoured the majority of old-school science fiction & fantasy). As part of my English degree, I was in a “History of Science Fiction” English Lit. course and in it, we plowed through hundreds of pages of short stories and novellas.

We also read several novels–one of which was Doomsday Book by Science Fiction Grand Master Connie Willis.

While Connie Willis writes science fiction, a lot of which involves time travel, the character development and plot carry her stories through rich worlds and meticulously chosen words. The science is never so heavy as to bog down the story or bore the reader. In fact, her Oxford Time Travel series (of which, Doomsday Book is book I) feels more like literary fiction with a splash of science fiction rather than the other way around.

I was fortunate enough to take a master writing workshop with Connie Willis last year. It was during this weekend workshop that I wrote the intro scenes to Class-M Exile. The encouragement of the dozen writers present (and Connie!) led to my finishing the novella.

Her use of language and the way she folds a story influence my brainstorming and writing. There is always something to learn from Connie, no matter what experience level a writer is at.

If you haven’t given her works a try, you absolutely should. Her two novels, Blackout and All Clear are my 2nd and 3rd favorite books of all time. They are part of the Oxford Time Travel series and focus on The Blitz in England during World War II. Both are guaranteed to keep you up way too late.

I would also recommend To Say Nothing of the Dog, Passage, Fire Watch, Impossible Things, Bellwether, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Despite having a huge room full of books to read, I’m currently rereading Blackout and All Clear.

What can I say? Learning from the master is best, and there’s always something more to learn.


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Every day (except Sundays) in the month of May, I’ll be posting about people, places, books, games, and other things that influence me as a writer or add a certain magic to my life. Join me in April as we explore a Hodge-Podge of Influences & Wayward Treks through the Fantastical.

Read more A-Z Challenge Posts here.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

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  1. […] before I can layer a story like he does, but I aim for it anyway. His use of words coupled with Connie Willis‘s devotion to characters and Patrick Rothfuss‘s gorgeous worldbuilding is what I hope […]