Friday, May 10, 2024

Literary Sewing Circle: Author Feature!


Today's the day to talk about the author of our pick for this round of the #LiterarySewingCircle! Connie Willis is a multiple award winning author of speculative fiction. She has won, among other awards, ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards, including Hugos for every book in the Oxford Time Travel series. She was the 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

She lives in Greeley, Colorado with her family.

By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0

Her interests in her fiction lie in exploring the unusual - from time travel to telepathy to alien visitations! There is also a strong element of humour, especially snappy dialogue and ridiculous mishaps, influenced by classic screwball comedies. 

To find out more about her influences, favourite reading and most recommended movies, you can read a recent interview with her by the LA Public Library. It focuses on her most recent book, The Road to Roswell (which features alien abductions and more) but ranges widely, and even gives a hint at another Time Travel book in the works. 

What is her connection with making and sewing? Well, for one thing her husband Courtney is an accomplished quilter, and Willis has written an account of their trip to Quilt Town, USA (aka Hamilton, Missouri) It's an entertaining story, especially her description of trying to explain the fact that it's her husband who's the quilter.  

Another aspect of her work that I find fascinating is how she uses clothing and fashion as a character building device. When our historians are going out to a new assignment, they look closely at the clothing and hairstyles and all important accessories that will make them fit in -- we notice people around us, and consider them part of our society, partly because of how they look and the small details of daily life that reveal someone who is the same as the rest of us. 

As Ned takes his first trip back to the Victorian era, he's carefully dressed in a striped blazer, flannels, and a boater. And of course appropriate facial hair. And Verity can't be sent too far out of bounds when she gets lost in translation, because of the Victorian gown she is wearing - the Net doesn't want her going too far afield, so as not to cause any disruptions to the space time continuum by appearing vastly out of place in her current garments. 

In Willis' most recent book, The Road to Roswell, the main character tries on a ghastly lime green bridesmaid dress early in the book which she has to wear for lengthy periods -- the alien in the story has a conniption when she changes into something else because it thinks her clothing is her actual self. Really interesting to think about how clothing "makes the man", so to speak. 

Although Willis doesn't speak much about making, sewing or fashion directly, I think her interest in it shows in many of her books, and enlarges our perceptions of her characters. Her vast mental library of references to other literature, to films and history, also includes the fashion of everyday life. I hope if you read more of her work after this book, you will find this as well! 


  1. Your series on Willis is so interesting! I just "discovered" her a month or so ago and have been obsessed. I've read 5 of her books so far and I feel like she needs to live forever because I don't want to ever run out of new Connie Willis books. Your insights on clothes is making me extra aware as I read them now. I just finished Blackout/All Clear and the clothes in this duo were constantly noted upon for plot points. I love it!

    1. So glad you are enjoying the series, and also the books of Connie Willis! I think I have read all of them also, except for a couple of early ones that I have to get to. They are so re-readable as well. Happy to find another Willis obsessed reader :)


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