I’ve mentioned several times how much I enjoy my involvement in the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference simply because of the incredibly talented and generous people I get to meet. On occasion, I’ll meet someone whose talent and vision are transcendent. Fran Wilde is one of those. She somehow crams an infinite amount of creative genius into about five feet of physical form. Fran’s Bone Universe is simply the most creative, unique, and detailed world I’ve ever visited (and I’ve visited lots of them). It’s simply stunning in its breadth and depth. I prevailed upon Fran’s better angels (they’re really the only kind she has) to ask her a few questions, and here is what she shared.
The world in your Bone Universe is particularly creative. Could you share what inspired such unique setting?
Thank you – there were multiple inspirations, literary and experiential. Metaphysical and scientific. The fact that super-high towers make their own updrafts, for instance. The rise of Pandemonium in Paradise Lost. The idea that we are only aware of the merest percentage of our world, as we try to work our way through it. Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry. The American Natural History Museum in New York. Everything informs a world and its setting.
You got your start writing short fiction for publishers such as Asimov, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, even Nature magazine. How important is writing short fiction for writers, especially genre writers?
I think short fiction provides a distinct way to learn about plot arcs and concision, about building characters quickly with key details, and about getting into the action without much exposition. That said, what it does *not* teach is novel writing. Writers have to learn to do that as well, if they want to write novels. And then again, often one needs to learn to write each story as it wants to be told.
You have a wonderfully diverse career background, everything from a sailing instructor to a game designer, how have these different careers influenced your work?
Everything you do and experience informs everything you write. The inverse is also true.
You took some time away from the Bone Universe to write Riverland, due out in 2019. Can you tell us a little about what this novel is about?
I finished Horizon, the final book in the Bone Universe trilogy, in 2016 and began writing Riverland then. (Horizon comes out in paperback on December 4 and is available for pre-order now, which means, should one wish to, one could gift the entire trilogy for the holidays… even more than once –eyebrow waggle–).
Riverland is a story about siblings who tell stories in order to survive a wildly tempestuous house that — from the outside — looks picture-perfect. It is a book about dreams, secrets, and rescuing each other, that features a driftwood and beachglass heron, a lot of glass witchballs, and magic. It comes out April 9, 2019 from Abrams and is available for preorder too!
Could you share your process/routine for writing? Any hints you would recommend to new (or old) writers in regard to carving out time to write?
Make yourself a set time and place to write. Train your body to expect when you sit down in that place, at that time, it is writing time. Write. If you don’t put that time aside and prioritize it, no one else will either.
Also, finish your stories.
I’m working on a second middle grade, as well as another book, plus I just finished the second novella in the gemworld series (The Jewel and Her Lapidary). I have a Serial Box series — Ninth Step Station — coming out next year with Malka Older, Curtis Chen, and Jacqueline Koyanagi. And several short stories came out (including)…
- Ruby, Singing(Beneath Ceaseless Skies, another Gemworld short story like The Topaz Marquis)
- Choose Wisely(Fireside Fiction)
- Disconnect(Disabled People Destroy Science fiction)
We’re seeing a long overdue resurgence of women writing and getting recognized for high quality science fiction and fantasy. (Thinking of folks like yourself, NK Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Charlie Jane Anders among others), what do you think is driving both the renewed interest and acceptance?
I think this question does a lot of work to box in and restrict women to a particular moment in time, when in truth, women and writers of color have always been writing excellent fiction – science fiction and fantasy included. The question is better than the one about “not being able to find more than a handful of women” over the years who wrote science fiction, or restricting that search to a particular section of the genre but I think the effect is the same. There have always been a wealth of women and people of color writing extraordinary fiction – so I’m going to redirect us to N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo speech, which everyone should watch, as well as one of the many discussions of women writers online that go up in response to one of these questions whenever they happen. Here’s my own list in response to one of those times, for instance, from 2015.
You’ve had an experience with the dark side of social media, can you share some steps on how writers, particular woman writers, can protect themselves.
Build a better platform. One that is not geared towards fueling profits for a few and nazis for everyone