Fran Wilde is a staple of Philadelphia’s science fiction community. She is an author and technology consultant whose short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I particularly like her short story “The Topaz Marquis”.
Her interview series Cooking the Books–about the intersection between food and fiction–has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts ever. She was kind enough to take a few minutes out to tell me more about her creative process and her new novel coming out from Tor in 2015.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t. I have really earnest poetry from first grade to back up my claim.
How would you describe your creative process? Are you a plotter or a discovery writer?
Sometimes I’ll pants a draft, completely freeform. Others, I’ll outline before I start. It totally depends on the story. I’ll draw scenes in my notebook. I’ll fuss over whether I’m using the right ink, the right nib, to handwrite it. (Yup, I’m a fountain pen geek too). Now and then, the final draft has only a few bits left of the original story. And sometimes the story falls mostly formed onto the page. There’s a lot of coffee involved. A fair amount of grumbling. And salty snacks.
You host a podcast called Cooking the Books with an oddly specific theme. What made you want to discuss food and fiction with other authors?
Cooking the Books got its start at as a conversation at a writers’ workshop with author Steven Gould. We were talking about fantastical recipes, including one called Elephant Stew (it begins, “First, cut elephant into bite-sized pieces.”). Steven said “that sounds like a recipe for a novel,” and I realized cooking was a great way for me to talk to people and ask them craft questions under the guise of food. (So far, no one suspects a _thing_.)
There are always surprises – everything from author Joe Haldeman talking about how to make pizza in a foxhole using plastique and Elizabeth Bear discussing roast marmot – to made-up drinks from authors Scott Lynch and Steven Brust or tea with Ann Leckie to what stone golems eat with Max Gladstone – to (coming in November) Robin Hobb.
Can you fill me in on some ancient programmer lore?
My favorite lore/advice is: Garbage in / Garbage out
What sort of topics do you cover for Geek Mom?
Mostly genre fiction, programming, apps, and travel. I’ve written about visiting Middle Earth and about geek-hotspots in London. When I can, I take part in the monthly Between the Bookends column, talking about what I’m reading.
Can you tell us a little about Updraft?
Updraft is a book with wings. And wind tunnels. And knife fights and monsters visible and invisible. High above the clouds, a city rises on towers of living bone. When Kirit Densira breaks a law and endangers her tower by attracting a terrible predator, she is punished by city rulers who have their own terrible secrets to hide. Kirit uncovers those secrets, and faces the consequences.
What other projects do you have in the works?
There are two more Bone Tower novels in the works, as well as other short stories. I’ve also just finished a world for the Storium project, which is a game players can use my world as a base for tales and role-playing of their own. My second story to appear in Asimov’s will be out next March/April.
Will you still be writing short stories now that you’ve been working on novels? Is there something special about the form that you enjoy?
I don’t think I can quit short stories. I love their constraints – the brevity, the framing. It’s also really important for me to shake up the pace now and then.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers/podcasters?
Have fun with it – and listen to other podcasts before you get rolling. Don’t wait until you have a perfect setup. My podcast isn’t perfect – but it’s a start. And it was a blast trying something (recording) I’d never done before. Don’t go crazy trying to edit out all the ‘ums’ – you’ll be up all night.