Wonderbook: Thanking the Contributors


In recent weeks, my Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction has won the British SF Association’s award for nonfiction and been named a finalist for the Hugo Award and the Locus Award. Congrats also to the main art contributor, Jeremy Zerfoss, for being up for a Hugo with me for Wonderbook. A special shout-out to main text consultant, Matthew Cheney, too, and my wife Ann, whose help was amazing on this project. As well as Luis Rodrigues who designed the website and Gregory Bossert who created the trailer.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to see such great reader reaction to the book–it’s being taught at more and more universities, including Brown. I’ll be using it as a text to teach from at Yale, Shared Worlds (teen writing camp), and the Clarion workshop this summer, too. Thanks to readers for making this a title that’s been hard for booksellers to keep in stock–and for engaging with the book’s sense of humor in such a marvelous way. I’ve also been pleased with how much Wonderbook has caught on as a general creativity guide outside of creative writing, and as a source of inspiration across media.

The main purpose of this post is to thank the dozens and dozens of text and art contributors to Wonderbook from all over the world. You’re the ones who help make Wonderbook work for so many readers, and also make it a reflection of the richness and depth of science fiction and fantasy, not just the reflection of one person’s perspective. So thank you–I’ve name-checked you below. Those readers who haven’t encountered some of these writers before, I endorse them all whole-heartedly. You should seek them out.

The accompanying Wonderbook website has a ton of content, too, all of which went up at the same time the book was published last October.

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The main text, written by me, is about 90,000 words. The Appendix includes features on LARP and Games in the context of fiction by Karin Tidbeck and Will Hindmarch respectively, in addition to a 7,000-word exclusive interview on craft with George R. R. Martin.

Here’s the full list of writers who have short essays (sidebar articles and spotlight features) interwoven into the layout. Most are original to Wonderbook.

Joe Abercrombie
Lauren Beukes
Desirina Boskovich
Matthew Cheney
David Anthony Durham
Rikki Durcornet
Scott Eagle
Karen Joy Fowler
Neil Gaiman
Lev Grossman
Ursula K. Le Guin
Stant Litore
Karen Lord
Nick Mamatas
Nnedi Okorafor
Kim Stanley Robinson
Peter Straub
Catherynne M. Valente
Charles Yu

I also conducted a lot of interviews for Wonderbook, and also used some material from interviews I’d done for other venues and quotes from conversations with writers who saw various parts of Wonderbook in a beta version. One advantage of the longish gestation period for the project is that I could discuss sections with various people and then change the text if I thought something had been left out or could be better expressed.

So within the book you’ll find wisdom and experience from the following writers, listed below. Some interviews for the book, like ones with James Patrick Kelly, Stant Litore, and Leena Krohn, appear exclusively on the (in progress) Wonderbook website. (I also made use, with permission, of substantial material from lectures by Karin Lowachee, Nick Mamatas, and Ekaterina Sedia.)

If someone has an asterisk by their name, Wonderbook interview Q&A that didn’t make the book is on or will probably be posted to the website.

Tobias S. Buckell
Matthew Cheney
John Chu
John Crowley*
David Anthony Durham*
Matt Denault
Junot Díaz
Brian Evenson*
Jeffrey Ford*
Lisa L. Hannett
Will Hindmarch
Jennifer Hsyu
Stephen Graham Jones*
Caitlin R. Kiernan*
David Madden
Michael Moorcock
Ian R. MacLeod*
Kate Maruyama
Cassandra N. Railsea
Thomas Ligotti*
Johanna Sinisalo*
Vandana Singh*
Catherynne M. Valente
Kali Wallace
Charles Yu*

In addition, many writers’ work is quoted from, including that of Amos Tutuola, Brian Evenson, Elizabeth Hand, Greer Gilman, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Lisa Tuttle, Premendra Mitra, and Lewis Carroll.


Basically, after there was a rough draft of the entire book in a near-final layout, I sent a PDF to various writers and asked them to create a “yes, but” statement for sections where they thought additional interrogation was needed or where they disagreed with the text in some way. This, to me, begins the necessary process for readers of thinking about what’s being read and reacting to it, not simply accepting what is put in front of them. So you’ll find very wise and useful Disruption Dragons in the page margins from:

Nathan Ballingrud (x2)
Kelly Barnhill
Matt Bell
Desirina Boskovich
Amal El-Mohtar
Kij Johnson (x2)
Brian Francis Slattery
Sofia Samatar
Karin Tidbeck


For the revision chapter, I thought I’d ask some writers about their specific experiences revising a particular novel. The results are capture on two pages of somewhat whimsical Revision Snakes, with their eyes showing the number of revisions. You’ll find accounts from:

Daniel Abraham
Aliette de Bodard
Tobias S. Buckell
Jesse Bullington
Jim Hines
Simon Ings
Stephen Graham Jones
Richard Kadrey
Nicole Korner-Stace
Karin Lowachee
Ian R. MacLeod
J.M. McDermitt
Nene Ormes
T. A. Pratt
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Patrick Rothfuss
Sofia Samatar
Pamela Sargent
Delia Sherman
Peter Straub
Jeffrey Thomas
Lisa Tuttle
Carrie Vaughn


In addition to Jeremy Zerfoss’s original art and diagrams (about 150 individual pieces) and author photos for sidebar essays, the following artists and photographers are represented in Wonderbook. Many have multiple pieces in Wonderbook. If someone known only for their writing is listed, I’ve put the nature of their artistic contribution in brackets. If the art was commissioned specifically for Wonderbook, I’ve put an asterisk by the name. The artists are primarily from North America and the U.K., but also France, Finland, Spain, Serbia, and Poland, among others.


Ninni Aalto*
Joe Abercrombie [map]
Hawk Alfredson
Aeron Alfrey
Mo Ali
Kristen Alvanson
Gregory Bossert*
Michael Cisco [diagram]*
R. S. Connett
Molly Crabapple
John Coulthart
John Crowley [writer’s journey diagram]*
Leo and Diane Dillon
Rikki Ducornet*
Scott Eagle
Stephen Fabian
J.J. Grandville
Richard A. Kirk
Stant Litore [diagram]*
Tomasz Maronski
Ian Miller
Nnedi Okorafor [art/novel structure]
Victo Ngai
Matthew Revert*
Óscar Sanmartín
Eric Schaller
Dave Senior
Ward Shelley
Ivica Stevanovic*
Ben Templesmith
Jason Thompson
Ben Tolman
Sam Van Olffen*
Charles Vess
Myrtle Von Damitz III*


Kyle Cassidy*
Patrick Eriksson
Leila Ghobril
Tessa Kum*
Angel Rodriguez
Jorge Royan
Paul D. Stewart
Henry Söderlund
Mariana Tavares*
Ann VanderMeer*
Robert K. VanderMeer*
Corrie White


  1. Jordan says

    I purchased the book last month and it’s a Genius Masterpiece. Unlike a lot of other books in my writing library the Wonderbook gives insight into how stories are actually created and put together. I have been looking for such a book for a long time.

    I appreciate all the insight from other writers in their essays and interviews. And the book’s exercises have given me new directions in which I can take my writing. The book’s artwork is superb, something that I’ll enjoy looking at and exploring for a long time to come.

    I wish you great success with the Wonderbook and hope that it will be around for a long time to come!

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