by Leslie Feldman
As an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer, Chestnut Hill author and technology consultant Fran Wilde transports readers out of their own worlds into entirely new and exciting places and times. Wilde’s work includes the Andre Norton and Compton Crook Award-winning novel, “Updraft.” and its sequel, “Cloudbound” (published by Tom Doherty Associates), which was released late last month.
Wilde, 44, draws inspiration for her writing from her upbringing in Wayne, PA, and summers as a sailing instructor on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. “I spent a lot of time as both a kid and adult on the Eastern Shore. The images in my stories of wind and gliding birds come from being up on the bluffs, watching storms roll in. To be honest, and without sounding trite, everything eventually feeds into creative acts if I let it.”
Wilde found her passion as a writer very early on but picked up science fiction first as a reader, thanks to the former bookstore The Reader’s Forum, now Main Point Books, in Wayne. After college she lived in Baltimore for 12 years in an 1810 sailmaker’s house, but she returned to Philadelphia with her family in 2007 because “we wanted to live near the Wissahickon, and I wanted to be near both a train line and a farmers’ market. We were used to cobblestone streets and loved historic neighborhoods, so Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy seemed perfect…
“There’s a very serious poem about the delights of winter in my elementary school newspaper from when I was in the second grade. I really became an author when I started finishing stories. For the longest time, I would start things and then set them aside because they weren’t good enough. About six years ago, I started finishing those stories, and once I’d done that, I started revising them. The stories got better, and I learned more about my writing and about my craft in general. The lesson, for me, is to finish what I start, no matter what I think of it at the outset.”
Wilde is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She then went on to earn a master’s of fine arts degree in poetry from Warren Wilson College and a master’s degree in information architecture and interaction design from the University of Baltimore, which led to a brief career as a web game developer.
Wilde’s first novel, “Updraft,” was published last year. It was set “in a world where people live far above the clouds in growing columns of bone, traveling between them by means of mechanical wings or walking over rare bridges built of sinew.” Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Nature and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Wilde also blogs about food at Cooking the Books and for the popular social-parenting website, GeekMom.
In “Cloudbound,” her new book, “When Kirit Densira left her home tower for the skies, she gave up many things: her beloved family, her known way of life, her dreams of flying as a trader for her tower, her dreams. Kirit set her city upside down and fomented a massive rebellion at the Spire, to the good of the Towers, but months later, everything has fallen to pieces. With the Towers in disarray, without a governing body or any defense against the dangers lurking in the clouds, daily life is full of terror and strife…”
When she’s not writing, the married mother of one child enjoys biking in Fairmount Park, sailing dinghies on the Chesapeake and knitting. Currently, Wilde is working on three more novels, including a third book in the “Updraft” and “Cloudbound” series, tentatively called “Horizon.”
About living in Chestnut Hill, Wilde told us in an earlier interview, “The people certainly are the best part of living here. The co-op and being able to walk and bike so many places. Going out to eat with my friends and family after a hard day of revising. The support I get from this community and the love my family feels are amazing.”
Wilde has a number of book signings scheduled in the region and has made several of her short stories available for free download, which can be found on her website at www.franwilde.net.