Author Spotlight: Wren Handman
Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
I’m a speculative fiction novelist, which means I write science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal. I mostly write young adult, but not exclusively. I live in Canada, and I also write screenplays for movies and TV shows.
What books do you have available? Can you give us a short description of them?
I’ve written a lot of novels, but here are my three most recent releases:
In Restless Dreams and I Walk Alone is a completely contemporary paranormal duology. When Sylvia and her brother are forced to move in with their estranged father, she thinks adjusting to life on the Upper East Side will be hard. But just wait until she finds out fairies are real: and they’re very interested in her!
Wire Wings is a young adult science fiction about the nature of grief and identity in a world where everything is changeable. It looks at life in the near future, when virtual reality and artificial intelligence are becoming commonplace. Gracie has just lost her best friend, and she’s drowning in grief and anxiety attacks. But then she meets Thomas, a mysterious AI who holds the answers to questions about Gracie’s own past.
Do you stay in one genre when you write or do you find yourself veering toward others?
I stay in speculative fiction, but I write a lot of genres within that. I love imagining new worlds and how we might interact with each other when magic or magic-like technology changes the rules on us. But sometimes a story calls for a whole lot of humour, and sometimes it’s a lot more contemplative and sad. Sometimes I go pure fantasy, and other times I bring a lot of the real world into the story. It really depends on the book.
Are you a panster, planner, or someone in between?
I’m a planner, all the way! I write a synopsis of the book, with a line or two for every scene. But once I start writing, I do let the story veer off and go into whatever direction it needs to. I usually make my way back to the synopsis eventually, though!
What is your writing routine like?
I’m a full-time writer, which can make it hard to find time to carve out time for my personal projects! I’m often tired of staring at a computer screen at the end of a long work day, so I usually write on days when my other projects are slow. That means a pretty inconsistent writing schedule sometimes!
Tell me about your favorite character that you’ve created?
My favourite character is Thomas from Wire Wings. At first he seems to be an artificial intelligence created by Gracie’s father, but it soon becomes clear there’s more to his story. Thomas is intelligent, and passionate, but he also has a lot of anger at the injustice of the world. He wants to make things better but doesn’t know how to direct that anger and drive into something constructive, and I sympathize with him a lot. Plus, he can reprogram his appearance at will, which I really loved writing.
Where do you get your ideas for world building?
A lot of my ideas come from my dreams. I have very lucid, very clear dreams, and I get a lot of inspiration in sleep! And of course I read and watch TV voraciously, and I get a lot of ideas that start as, ‘like x but different in x and z ways!’
Do you add romance to your writing? Is it steamy or clean?
I love a good love story, and while my books aren’t ‘romance,’ they almost all have a strong love story woven throughout the narrative. I like to write about the heights of human emotion, and that often means love is in the mix.
What was your favorite scene to create?
In Restless Dreams has a battle scene between two fairy armies, and I’m not one for military fiction! So writing that fight was really interesting and challenging because I wanted to get into the fantasy of it and make it really beautiful, without getting bored with the details. It came together really well.
Where do you get character inspiration?
I start with plot, and ask myself, what kind of person would you have to be to make these choices? What flaws would you have to lead you to make these mistakes? Once I know that, I build the character and then look back at the plot and say, what has to change now that I know this person better? What choices would they not make?
For instance, with In Restless Dreams, I wanted Sylvia to have some conflict with another girl in school, but I wanted to avoid some of the ‘mean girl’ tropes that are overdone. So I asked myself, why would these two get into conflict with each other? And I realized that Sylvia had a lot of anger over how little in her life was in her control. Her anger then became a part of her character that she had to deal with over the course of the book, and helped her feel way more fleshed out.
What genre do you prefer to read?
I read what I write! There’s a reason I love it, after all. That means I read a lot of young adult, a ton of science fiction, and a smattering of fantasy.
Do you have any specific authors you follow and try to craft your work after?
Some of my favourite authors are N. K. Jemisin, Juliet Marillier, Naomi Novik, and V. E. Schwab. I don’t think I pattern myself after them particularly, but I admire what they do and I’m sure I find inspiration in their stories and words.
Do you have any recurring themes in your book?
The wonder of the world around you, how incredible magic is and how it can shape and transform us. I’m also a huge believer in showing diversity in my books. I’m pansexual, which means my community is a lot of queer people and a lot of nerds (there’s a surprisingly huge overlap there!), and that reflects in my work.
What does your editing process look like?
I edit really heavily as I go. Every second gets read over two or three times and I make changes as I write. That means when I get to editing with my publisher, a lot of the heavy lifting is already done. I don’t tend to make big plot changes or move chapters around, because I’ve done the word when I outlined.
Do you have a preferred drink or snack that you eat/drink while writing?
I’m a candy fiend! Gimme a vegetarian gummy and I will devour it like a monster from the deep.
When is your favorite time of day to write and why?
I like to write after lunch, when I’m wide awake and have that rush of energy from the calories. But I write form 9-5 most days whether it’s creative or otherwise!
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Ooh that’s an impossible question. I LOVE to travel. I’ve been all over the world - I even worked on a cruise ship for a little while so I could see even more of it. I especially love to travel with friends and family. Anywhere they are is a great vacation to me!
Marvel or DC? Do you have a favorite character?
Marvel all the way when it comes to movie and TV shows. They’ve embraced the fun and I really prefer that to the grim-dark vibe that DC usually has. Though there are exceptions, like Shazam! I’ll always have a soft spot for Rogue because I grew up on the X-Men cartoon, and I shipped her and Gambit so badly.
What hobbies do you have?
Reading and watching TV are my biggest hobbies, but I’m also a huge crafter. I love to try new things, and I’ve done everything from wire wrapping jewellery to embroidery to making my own witch’s hat.
Where can our readers find you?
I’m really active on Facebook and Twitter, and you can drop me a line any time through my website! Join the mailing list for book news, I only post every few months so you won’t get swarmed with emails.