- Nikky Lee
10 Questions with Wren Handman
Wren Handman is a novelist and screenwriter from Vancouver, Canada. She writes a wide range of stories, from science fiction (Wire Wings) to YA contemporary paranormal (In Restless Dreams). All of her stories are connected by one thing: the magical blended with the everyday…probably because she secretly wishes magic was real. She's a firm believer in showing diversity in every project she takes on, and because she's pansexual she particularly loves writing strong queer characters just living their lives.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
I live in Vancouver, on Canada's rainy west coast. I write a lot of different things, but they pretty much all blend the fantastic with the everyday, whether that's near-future sci-fi or contemporary fantasy. I write mostly for young adults, but I do the occasional adult book, too.
2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?
I love magic (probably because I secretly wish it was real!). So any time I can explore the magical with a real-world twist, I'm into it. I think magic and fantasy give us room to explore hard topics in a way that feels easier to grasp. I'm generally drawn to YA because it's a genre that's still allowed to be hopeful. So many adult stories are so depressing! It seems like authors are really fighting back against happily ever afters. What's wrong with a little feel-good in our lives? At the end of the struggles, I want the dawn.
3. What’s your best known work?
My best-known work is probably In Restless Dreams, and the sequel is coming out at the end of June. It's called I Walk Alone. It was so fun for me to write a sequel for the first time! I had never done it before, and I had so much joy expanding on Sylvia's story and finding her happily ever after.
4. What inspired you to write it?
The Phantasmer Cycle asks the question, "What if fairies were real?". I wanted to imagine how it could be possible for all of these conflicting stories about different kinds of fairies to all be true. The Summer and Winter Courts, the Unseelie and the Seelie, Trooping Fairies... I was inspired by the idea of a Phantasmer, a human that could change the world of Fairy just by believing in it. That's where it all started.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, panster or somewhere in between? How do you research?
When I was in high school I thought plot outlines were for the weak! Then I started writing novels and realized I could NOT live without an outline!! I often change and adapt my outline as I go, as characters change and grow with the writing, but I always start out with a basic idea of what the story will be. Then I dive right in! I have to admit I don't have a huge appetite for research, so I often write stories that are things I know about already, and don't require much beyond Googling street intersections!
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
I wrote a play about Jews escaping Lithuania to go to Shanghai, and I spent about three hours trying to figure out how much it would have cost to take a train from Lithuania to Russia...and then once I found the number, I cut the line where it came up!! I couldn't believe it, but it had to go.
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
I wrote a novella about the winter king as a metaphor for depression that really helped me process and understand my feelings. I don't have clinical depression, but I was situationally depressed and writing that story really helped me overcome those emotions. I hope it might do the same for other readers some day. It's yet unpublished, but I keep hoping I'll find the right home for it.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
So many! Literature is my influence. I've always read a LOT and been drawn to stories in every form. I love TV and movies and books and novellas and graphic novels... Anything I can get my hands on! Charles De Lint was a big early influence. I adore how much his characters seem to love and thrive on the simple magic in the world around them.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
I'm reading The Neverending Story right now, which I've seen the movie of but never read. It's fun because it's so much like the movie, but then continues on past the point where the movie ends. Next up is Embassytown, I think, by China Miéville. I love his world building so much.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
You can head to https://wrenhandman.com/novels/ for a full list of all of my books and find links to where to buy them online!
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