Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Interview with Fran Wilde, author of Updraft

Please welcome Fran Wilde to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Updraft was published on September 1st by Tor Books.

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Fran:  I’ve been a writer since elementary school at least. My family has many storytellers – the older generation likes to sit a spell and talk, and it’s sometimes hard to figure where facts end and stories begin. I like writing because then the story stays fixed on an axis, at least usually.

TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Fran:  Yes.
That is, I am both. I plot, and then I pants. And then I plot again.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Fran:  Making sure I put writing first is most challenging. So many things want my time and attention. When I wake up before everyone else and get those first couple hundred words down, I know I’ll have a good workday. When I start off by answering emails and problem solving, sometimes I don’t get enough time to focus on what I love to do.

TQWho are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Fran:  How much space do I have? Influences: Jorge Luis Borges, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula Le Guinn, China Miéville, Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Candas Jane Dorsey… Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pablo Neruda, Milton, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Seamus Heaney, Wyslawa Szymborska, Anna Ahkmatova, Rita Dove, Charles Wright, Eavan Boland, …

Favorite authors – that’s nearly impossible – I have too many. I often keep lists of favorite stories I’ve read on my website, and I try to keep track of books on goodreads, if that helps – you’re welcome to sort through my bookshelves, although they’re not terribly well organized.

TQDescribe Updraft in 140 characters or less.

Fran:  Updraft: a world of wind & bone, songs & silence, secrets & betrayals. Towers above the clouds. Giant invisible flying carnivorous monsters.

TQTell us something about Updraft that is not found in the book description.

Fran:  Someone gets devoured fairly early.
… was that Too Much Information?

TQWhat inspired you to write Updraft? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Fran:  I write both science fiction and fantasy, but this world and these characters, wanted a more fantastical approach. Originally, I was inspired to write the world of Updraft with a story prompt at a writers’ workshop… one that turned into a short story that is actually part of Updraft’s sibling, Cloudbound. A different short story I was writing in the same world became Updraft.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for Updraft?

Fran:  I did a lot of research on altitude variations in foods; on bone growth and structures; on [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]; and especially on flight and foils and wings. I went indoor skydiving to get the feel of flying in a wind tunnel. I spent a lot of time in skyscrapers, out on the high balconies. And birds. Lots of birds.

TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Fran:  Not easiest, but the voice I heard clearest and first was Kirit’s, followed by Nat’s and Ezarit’s.

The hardest were Rumul, for reasons I can’t get into without spoilers, and one other character, because I wanted him to be very real, and even his own community doesn’t quite see him straight.

TQWhich question about Updraft do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


FW: Are there other stories going on in the city at the same time as this story?

Oh yes. I tried to write with an eye to the fact that Kirit’s and Nat’s story is one of many, and that there are many stories that have come before and will come after. That way, the city felt big and busy and populated with real characters who weren’t just sitting around waiting for my characters to do something. There are absolutely other stories going on, other mechanisms turning. But for a moment, the story that really matters is this one.

There are a few short stories set in this world already, featuring other characters, and other time periods. One, “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed,” appeared first in the anthology Impossible Futures, edited by Tom Easton and Judith K. Dial, and then was reprinted in the anthology XIII, edited by Mark Teppo. Another, “Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud,” appears in Beneath Ceaseless Skies this September.

And I’m pretty certain there will be more.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Updraft.

Fran:  On a morning like this, fear was a blue sky emptied of birds. It was the smell of cooking trapped in closed towers, of smoke looking for ways out. It was an ache in the back of the eyes from searching the distance, and a weight in the stomach as old as our city.

TQWhat's next?

Fran:  Next after Updraft chronologically, is the novella “The Jewel and Her Lapidary,” which is a hidden-history-epic-fantasy-in-miniature, set in the same Gem Universe as “The Topaz Marquise” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2014).

There are other short stories on the way, and then next fall, Cloudbound (Tor, 2016) – the second Bone Universe novel. In 2017, there will be a third Bone Universe novel, plus some other exciting things.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Fran:  Thank you so much for having me to visit, Sally!

Bone Universe 1
Tor Books, September 1, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city's secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever-if it isn't destroyed outright.

About Fran

Photo by Dan Magus
FRAN WILDE’s acclaimed short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Nature, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Aside from her writing career, she has worked as a science and engineering writer, as a programmer and game developer, as a sailing assistant, and as a jeweler’s assistant. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. You can find her online at

Twitter @fran_wilde ~ Google + ~ Facebook

Pinterest ~ Tumblr

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a hardcover copy of Updraft by Fran Wilde from the Tor Books. US / CANADA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below. Note that comments are moderated.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on September 25, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I've been looking forward to this book for a while! I'd love to win a copy since my book buying budget is small for the next few months!

  2. Thanks for this fascinating feature and great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com