Last month at the Nebula Conference, I had the honor of filling an hour of Fran Wilde’s time with questions about everything from how to celebrate successes in a writing career (her rewards sometimes involve socks) to the minutiae of social media to juggling work and family, which she does with grace.
As if she hadn’t been generous enough, I thanked her by asking if I could interview her for this blog. I’m so very glad she said yes.
Fran Wilde’s novels and short stories have been finalists for four Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Nebula- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, her 2019 debut Middle Grade novel Riverland, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror.
You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and at franwilde.net.
Her newest book is Riverland:
Riverland: When things go bad at home, sisters Eleanor and Mike hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed, telling monster stories. Often, it seems those stories and their mother’s house magic are all that keep them safe from both busybodies and their dad’s temper. But when their father breaks a family heirloom, a glass witch ball, a river suddenly appears beneath the bed, and Eleanor and Mike fall into a world where dreams are born, nightmares struggle to break into the real world, and secrets have big consequences. Full of both adventure and heart, Riverland is a story about the bond between two sisters and how they must make their own magic to protect each other and save the ones they love.
You can pick up a copy of Riverland from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EJTrwR
Did something in the real world inspire Riverland?
Riverland is a portal fantasy — and like most portal fantasies, it exists so that the main characters — Eleanor and Mike — can work something out in a place that is (frighteningly) safer than their own world. It’s about magic, real and not, and family. What inspired it was the sense that many stories, especially on television and in movies, talk about children living through violent households as if they have no agency, no ability to participate in their own lives, and their own rescue. (You can see that a lot in the shorthand that shows like Law & Order uses.) I wanted to write a book where young girls get to be — in no particular order — angry, wrong, right, strong, weak, and heroes.
I think everything in the current world inspired that need.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scenes are when Eleanor begins to tell her story, when Pendra follows Eleanor, and when Dishrag gets his heart’s desire. That last one is a rush of hooves pounding and smoke curling and utter, total determination to live up to your dreams, even if you’ve always been told you couldn’t.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
Two parts panic, one part determination, and a lot of terrible drafts, with puns everywhere. There was also a heap of lying about on furniture worrying that I wasn’t good enough to finish this one. And many supportive phone calls and emails from friends that I was and could.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
The letters from readers thanking me for writing it, in exactly the way I wrote it.
What do you have planned next?
Classroom visits (in person and on Skype) to talk about Riverland. A second middle-grade book that’s almost entirely contemporary. A book of poetry. The final novella in the gemworld series. And several more novels.
The Fire Opal Mechanism, the second gemworld book after The Jewel and Her Lapidary, came out from Tor.com on June 4. I’m also taking over the position of Director of the Genre Writing MFA Program at Western Colorado University this summer — which is very exciting!
The Fire Opal Mechanism: Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.
Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it. When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.