Author Interview: Wren Handman

Wren Handman

We’ll skip the “tell us about yourself” because coming up with something on the spot is, truly, the bane of an author’s existence. So, let’s start with something a little easier! Tell me what you’re working on at the moment.*

A paranormal novel for adults about people who can record their dreams, and the monsters that lurk within them.

In as much detail as you would like, tell me about your book(s) that are already out/on the way.*

I write YA paranormal and science fiction, mostly. Lots of magic and angst, always sprinkled with a little humour. I’m very interested in the intersection of genre and diversity, and as a white queer woman I try to reflect my community and experiences in all of my writing.

As far as the writing process goes—including such things as conception of idea all the way through to money in the bank—what is the least favourite bit? (Everyone has one!)*

Marketing!! I have a lot of book with wonderful reviews from a very small number of people. But finding exposure and helping new audiences reach my writing is incredibly challenging. If only I could write books in a ‘room of my own’ on a mountaintop somewhere in Patagonia and all my readers would just magically receive finished copies!

Conversely, what is the bit of the writing process that gets your writery brain grinning?*

I absolutely adore the meat and potatoes of writing. Once I have a finished outline and I get to dive in and bring the world and the characters to life, seeing the way in which they’ll surprise me and the ways in which I’ll surprise myself. Finding that one beautiful turn of phrase that you want to read over and over, or making yourself tear up a bit as you write, is real magic.

If you could steal any author’s ability to improve your own work, who would you steal from and why? (e.g. Tolkien’s language skills, Douglas Adams’ humour, etc.)*

Catherynne M. Valente’s language skills, no contest! In Deathless especially, where she is diving into the beauty of language as a contrast to the horror of the communist revolution in Russia.

Now for some fun! The main character of the book you’re working on (or have recently finished) has kidnapped you for ruining their life. How will you explain that what you’re doing is for the best?

Oh I love this so much! Let’s go with Sylvia from the Phantasmer Cycle. Her powers are the ability to influence the world around her by believing in it, and her journey in the second book is all about responsibility and privilege when it comes to power. I don’t think I would tell her that she was fictional, because that might be a lot to handle!! Instead, I would tell her that I change the world the same way she does, but by imagining instead of believing. I would explain that the hard things she went through paved the way for the positive way in which she changed the world, and that there’s always a happy ending in a narrative arc, which isn’t guaranteed in the real world. And isn’t that worth it all?

You, your main character(s), and the protagonist of the last book you read are playing poker. What are the stakes? Who will win and why?

The last book I read was The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik. So Sylvia, El and I would be playing 5 card stud, laying everything on our ability to bluff our way into the winning hand. We’d be playing for the chance to switch narratives and get to live in each other’s lives – myself in Sylvia’s world, where magic exists; El in my world, where it doesn’t, and she can live a normal life; and Sylvia in El’s world, where she can use her powers to reshape reality and make it safer for magic users.

Let’s face it, writing is hard. What do you think are some traps to avoid in your particular area of expertise? (Whether that be your genre, your knowledge of plot, your character building, your world building, etc.)*

Read, read, read, read, read! The worst part of bad writing is overused tropes and outdated ideas. The more you read and diversify the kind of writing you read, the better your own writing becomes.

Anything else you’d like to add? Plots to take over the world, for example. Upcoming release dates, links and things, maybe even your favourite chocolate cake recipe.

I decided to hold my cat and read from my book and see how long it would take before he escaped. It took a LOT longer than I expected it to and kind of ruined the joke, and he’s a beautiful cat so it’s a good time: