Fran Wilde is both a Taos Toolboxer and a graduate of Viable Paradise. Thanks, Fran, for stopping by.
Tamago: Tell us about the first thing you can remember writing.
Fran: I remember writing new Starblazers and Superfriends scripts for my neighbors to act out – that totally dates me, doesn’t it? And I remember a poem I wrote in third grade that made it into the school newspaper. It featured a flying horse, I’m pretty sure.
Tamago: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Fran: Probably seeing that poem in print was enough to toss me over the cliff. I was a huge reader, and I’d read anything. The local indie bookstore would sometimes sneak me an ARC, especially if I helped them shelve books, or told them what I thought of a book I’d just read. And the local librarian, Mrs. C., encouraged me to write. So I was a bibliophile first, then a writer – by third or fourth grade, probably. There was a bit of time later when I wasn’t doing very much writing, but that passed.
Tamago: Who are your writing role models?
Fran: I think Daniel Abraham has a great attitude about the writing life. I read N.K. Jemisin, Vylar Kaftan, and Elizabeth Bear‘s blogs a lot for inspiration. Steven Gould’s a big proponent of the “Be good, be on time, be nice,” model, and I do my best to keep that mantra in mind. Debra Doyle has an excellent blog about various elements of writing, and her husband James D. Macdonald gives wonderful tips over at the Absolute Write forums. Also Mur Lafferty and Mary Robinette Kowal with their podcasts. And I love the enthusiasm of the SF Squeecast for genre fiction.
I try to write every day, so the writers who remind me of that habit, especially when I’m dealing with family needs or calendar snafus, are my biggest role models. But most of all, my role models are my peers and my writing groups – the people who nudge me on, even when the going is tough, and whom I nudge back now and then.
Tamago: How does having an advanced degree in poetry affect your writing?
Fran: I think the benefit of any advanced degree is the depth of reading. So, I have an MFA in poetry and a masters’ in interaction design and information architecture. Both of those inform my writing, because I still read heavily in both fields. Poetry makes me very aware of words, and somewhat obsessed with sound and rhythm. Sometimes I have to watch that I don’t get too ensorcelled. It also gave me a nice grounding in epic literature. Information design keeps me current with technology and the programming required to make it work, as well as narrative techniques for games, visual hierarchies and wayfinding, and new techniques for hypertext fiction.
Tamago: I know you write science fiction, fantasy, and YA. Do you find that your writing process is the same or varies for these different types of speculative fiction?
Fran: I think it’s the same – a lot of research, then a bit of seat-of-the-pants writing, then a plot outline and scene studies. Then I’m ready to write and … oh look the kitchen needs cleaning…
It kind of goes like that.
I average 1,000 to 3,000 words a day. On tough days, it’s a job to get to 500 words, but I still try to do it. Even if they’re words that I’ll toss out later. Most days, I find writing a synopsis for what I’m going to work on helps me hit my goal faster. But some days I forget to do that and I flail all over the place.
So it’s sort of like that, too.
Tamago: How did you come to apply for Taos Toolbox?
Fran: My friends Oz Drummond and Gregory Frost suggested it.
Tamago: I know that you’ve been to both Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox. What advice would you give an author who is considering a neo-pro workshop?
Fran: Submit your best work. Give your group the best critiques you can. Remember that everyone – students and instructors – at a workshop are human beings, and try to treat people with respect.
Do your best to silence your brain weasels after a critique – they’re going to tell you that the comments you just received are an overall indictment of your value as a writer. The brain weasels are wrong and you are better than they are.
Tamago: Which writers would you say are your influences?
Fran: In no order whatsoever: China Mieville, Jorge Luis Borges, N.K. Jemisin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Flannery O’Connor, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Stross, Greg Egan, science writers David Quammen and Richard Preston, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Neal Stevenson, Neil Gaiman, Tom Waits, Joe Haldeman, Andy Duncan, Genevieve Valentine, Italo Calvino, Connie Willis, Walter John Williams, Jo Walton.
Tamago: What are you working on now?
Fran: I’ve got two short stories in development, one for an anthology. I am polishing my second novel, Bone Arrow.
Tamago: Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Thank you for having me by, Cath.
Thank you for coming by!