Interview with Wren Handman
Happy Tuesday, y’all! Today, I’m going to share a new author with you guys, Wren Handman. First, I just want to comment on her name, it’s so pretty! I love it. Don’t be surprised if you see a character named Wren in one of my future books! Moving on, Wren and I quickly became friends. Her bubbly personality won me over and it helped that she’s also the sweetest person ever. Even though we were supposed to be discussing her career, she was quick to offer me encouragement in my own. What I love about Wren’s writing is that you can feel it. Seriously, she puts so much emotion into her books that they practically seep off the pages. For me, I want books to elicit big reactions from me and Wren’s book did just that. Her books may be fantasy genre but the hard truths she includes are all too real. She takes risks and enjoys being challenged. Not only in her writing career but also in her everyday life. She doesn’t shy away from new things, she embraces them. A skill I hope to learn one day. So, if you’re ready to explore a new world and feel all the feels, definitely check out Wren Handman’s work!
How do you begin your writing career?
I started writing very young; I wrote my first novel in junior high, and my second in high school. From where I went on to study writing in university, and kept learning and growing my skills. I actually went back and did significant rewrites to the book I wrote in high school, and that became Command the Tides, the second book I published! I was very lucky with my first book. I found a local publisher who was looking for ‘true to life’ stories for kids with reading difficulty — advanced subject matter but easy language. I submitted a book to them not realizing they only did stories based on real experiences. They loved but, but couldn’t publish it since it was fiction. So we worked together to find something in my own background that I could base a book on. I ended up writing a book about the film industry, even though Caitlin’s story went in a very different direction than my own! My manuscript ended up getting chopped in half because of miscommunications about their word count limits, so I was never very happy with the final product, but I had my very own book in my hands, and that gave me the confidence to put myself out there and keep trying for a fiction publisher. I think it helped get me where I am today.
What was your favorite subject in school?
No surprise on this one, probably—English all the way! I still miss writing essays, and I think I’m among a very small number of people who can say that! In university I took a history class, and when I got my essay back I almost cried at my mark. I went to talk to the teacher and said I didn’t understand what I had done wrong, and he looked at it and said, “Oh, you’re an English major, aren’t you?” I was used to making up my own opinion and then proving it, not sticking to the facts and only the facts. Luckily, he let me redo the essay.
What is the first step in your writing process?
I always start with the germ of an idea—usually a rough plot or a story concept that really tugs on me. From there I figure out who would be more interesting in that story, and build the characters from there. Then it’s off to the outline stage! I used to hate outlines, but now I can’t live without them. I’m definitely a plotter and not a pantser. I only keep a single draft of any story I’m working on. If I delete something, it’s gone forever!
If you could choose to be any species, would you still choose to be human?
A housecat sure would be nice...but I think I would miss art. Maybe an elephant. They paint, and apparently they get the same happy rush from petting the head of a human that we get from petting a dog! I just love that.
What is your favorite and least favorite parts of writing?
My favourite part (forgive the Canadian spelling, I just can’t make myself say favorite!) is definitely plotting the outline. I love seeing a story come together in its entirety, and plotting out this cool new world and this cool new story. I could plot new books out all day long!! My least favourite part, surprising no one, is marketing. I think I hate it because I’m really, really bad at it. Poin proven by the fact that if you’re reading this, you probably haven’t heard of me! But I’m a work in progress, and so is my marketing journey.
What tv show or movie could you binge over and over?
Oh gosh so many. I am a TV addict, there are just SO MANY good stories out there! Buffy is definitely my comfort food TV show. I love Vampire Diaries for the unapologetic cheese and I love Firefly for the quips and I love Pushing Daisies for the romantic angst.
What comes first, the story or the title?
ALWAYS the story. I am so so so bad at titles. Some of my books go through three or four or eight titles before I land on one. Havoc & Happiness was called ‘Cleave’ for the whole writing process and then right before I went to publish it I thought, “Actually, is that really bad?” So I asked my friends to help me brainstorm, and we spent a sunny afternoon at a park by the beach yelling out book titles until we landed on Havoc & Happiness. Now I’ve got the next four books named (Mayhem & Merriment is up next, but I have to, you know, write the thing).
What is your favorite music genre?
I guess I’d say alt rock? I like rock when it intersects with other genres. Folk rock, alt rock, person with a guitar rock, that kind of thing. I don’t listen to music when I write, though, I find it way too distracting.
Could you share some “bloopers” that you edited out of your most recent release?
Oh gosh, I don’t know if I have any bloopers. I ADDED a ton to Wire Wings, though. When I first wrote it the poor darling was only 50,000 words, so I had to come up with a subplot, STAT! There’s a whole plotline where the love interest catches the attention of the department of defense and things get sticky, and none of that was in the original copy.
When you need to decompress, what do you do?
Bingewatch TV! That’s my go to every time. When I need to shut off my brain and just relax, I put on something fun and stupid. The best for that is Taskmaster, it’s this amazing British panel show where they make comedians compete at dumb tasks. I love it so much.
Name one book that is your go-to recommendation for people looking?
I hate picking just one book so much! I want you to read everything that’s ever made me feel something! But my most recent obsession is probably The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente. It’s a novella about the future if climate change goes unchecked that is somehow both deeply depressing and wildly hopeful and optimistic at the same time, and I loved it.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Keep having fun! It can be easy to get sucked up into the business side of things and forget that writing is supposed to be an expression of joy. Just write, and write what you love, and the rest will follow.
Graciela Neumann does as she’s told. She cowers beneath the towering intellect of her parents, goes to school, toes the line. Except when she’s connected to the virtual reality world that gives every teenager what we can only imagine - to be completely free. In the Waves, Graciela can be anyone, anywhere, whenever. And in the real world, Graciela is drowning. Her best friend recently passed away, she’s suffering from crippling panic attacks, and her only connection to life is Khaiam, who keeps trying to draw her back to reality.
But how can he compete with the Waves? There, she can shed her identity and recreate it however she wants. And in that world, there's Thomas, the stunning stranger she's only ever met online, the boy with the deep, sad eyes and beautiful laugh. Thomas seems to be able to defy the rules of the Waves, and he holds secrets of his own - about the origins of his creation, about the nature of AI, and about Gracie's own past.
Wren Handman is a novelist and screenwriter from Vancouver, Canada. She writes a wide range of stories, from science fiction (Wire WIngs) to young adult 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 were real. You can find Wren spending way too much time on Facebook or Instagram.