Title: Wings Unseen
Author: Rebecca Gomez Farrell
Published by: Meerkat Press
Publication date: August 22nd, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
To end a civil war, Lansera’s King Turyn relinquished a quarter of his kingdom to create Medua, exiling all who would honor greed over valor to this new realm on the other side of the mountains. The Meduans and Lanserim have maintained an uneasy truce for two generations, but their ways of life are as compatible as oil and water.
When Vesperi, a Meduan noblewoman, kills a Lanserim spy with a lick of her silver flame, she hopes the powerful display of magic will convince her father to name her as his heir. She doesn’t know the act will draw the eye of the tyrannical Guj, Medua’s leader, or that the spy was the brother of Serrafina Gavenstone, the fiancèe of Turyn’s grandson, Prince Janto. As Janto sets out for an annual competition on the mysterious island of Braven, Serra accepts an invitation to study with the religious Brotherhood, hoping for somewhere to grieve her brother’s murder in peace. What she finds instead is a horror that threatens both countries, devouring all living things and leaving husks of skin in its wake.
To defeat it, Janto and Serra must learn to work together with the only person who possesses the magic that can: the beautiful Vesperi, whom no one knows murdered Serra’s brother. An ultimate rejection plunges Vesperi forward toward their shared destiny, with the powerful Guj on her heels and the menacing beating of unseen wings all about.
Readers of all ages will enjoy Wings Unseen, Rebecca Gomez Farrell’s first full-length novel. It is a fully-imagined epic fantasy with an unforgettable cast of characters.
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
My writing process begins with a concept that intrigues me, whether that be the concept itself (for example, what would it be like to write a short story heavy reliant on smells?) or a character or plot element. I’ve had one character in mind since going on a swamp tour in Louisiana a few years ago. An older woman, somewhere in the progression of dementia, was on the trip with her daughter. Their dynamic fascinated me, especially how much personality the older woman displayed even when she wasn’t fully in the here and now. Once I get the chance to sit down with my memory of that woman, perhaps start writing a character profile of her, the story will likely spring to mind.
In terms of organization, I am a pantser at heart, but I’m getting better at keeping track of my characters, settings, and other details as soon as I’ve invented them. My memory is horrible, so I’d be lost without my own glossaries and character trees. When I’m writing, new ideas are constantly being created. Writing triggers my imagination and my mind jumps ahead of the task at hand. So I keep lists of scenes I’ve started to imagine and when I need inspiration, I pull one out of a hat – or rather, out of a notebook page.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
Dreams have given me a lot of imagery from which to base a larger story. My contemporary sweet romance novella, Maya’s Vacation, which came out a few years ago, began with a dream of frying chicken in a beautiful, small kitchen. I dreamt it on a few different nights along with impressions of the main characters. I took those images and created a charmingly little story about a reignited old flame. Most often, however, the smallest idea catches my interest and I’ll note it down, hoping to return to it someday. Currently on the list: rainbow fish talking about the good old days before human explorers, fairy tale bounty hunters, and the aforementioned older woman with dementia and lots of personality.
3. How long have you been writing?
My whole life, for sure. The earliest writing I have is from second grade, where we would write fiction stories all the time in class. One of mine is inspired by a cutout of She-Ra on her horse, and I wrote it all about the day I made friends with a flying…horse. I have very fond memories of the Writers’ Workshop program in the 6th grade as well. Elementary through high school, I would jump at the chance to write a story or a play for homework. They didn’t always make sense, but I was certainly fascinated with the fantastic and spooky from an early age.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Discipline is key. If you don’t write regularly, you can’t improve your writing skills. Just like an instrument or a crafter’s technique, writing takes practice to hone. Which means you will always be getting better at it if you just keep doing it! That’s inspiring to me, as is the community of other writers from which you should learn. Start developing a thick enough shell to take critique – an essential part of writing – if you haven’t already. In time, you’ll learn what critique benefits your work and what critique to ignore. Trust your instincts, but only once you’ve honed your skill enough to know your instincts versus your beginner impulses. And after you’ve been at it awhile, don’t feel bad that your struggles are the same – I haven’t come close to mastering discipline. It’s a daily struggle for me.
5. How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Naming is a lot of fun! And in fantasy, of course, there is plenty of naming to be had. Often, it is the sound of a name that enchants me, and when I fall in love with a particular construction, it can be easy to create other names with a similar feel as long as they are coming from the same linguistic base. The rhythm of words is important to me in crafting a story, so a name often naturally comes to mind as I’m writing that fits the current rhythm I’m working with. I also play games with naming, in that I’ll come up with names that are tributes to the characters of others that inspire me or that I’ve just always enjoyed. Sometimes I’ll change a few letters of the name’s spelling so it’s not immediately evident to the reader that it’s a tribute. Other times, I’ve combined the names of characters I love into something that fits my world. Rarely does a name stay exactly the same in my work as it was in the original, but Lorne in Wings Unseen is an exception to that rule. He was inspired by the demon Lorne from the television series Angel, though he’s not a carbon copy. But he has the playful personality and charisma you can’t shake off.
In short stories, the meaning of a name can be more important, even if the reader never looks it up. Short stories thrive on packing as much meaning into every word as possible, so I’ll often use baby naming websites or websites that study name etymology like Behind the Name. Through that research, the name I choose might recall certain themes or images perhaps subconsciously in the reader. For example, in my horror/Weird West novella “Good Genes,” available at the Future Fire, the character Carl is so named because Carl may be a derivative of Charon, the ferryman on the river Hades. That could be an early clue to readers in the know that SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE.
6. Some favorites:
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Banjo by Claude McKay, Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens, Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien, A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.
My all-time favorite television show is Battlestar Galactica, the remake – I’ve never seen the original series! It is closely followed by Game of Thrones, Veronica Mars, and General Hospital. That last one has been with me since the cradle.
My current favorite musician is Langhorne Slim, followed by Darren Criss. Their music always brings me joy. Queen is my all-time favorite band, and I love them with Adam Lambert singing lead almost as much as I love Freddie Mercury’s legendary voice. My favorite genre of music is 1960s folk rock, although musicals come close.
Is absinthe a snack? I don’t drink it often, but I do find it to be the best lubricant of the mind when I’m in a late-night need for productivity. Perhaps it helps me imagine myself as one of the great expatriate mid-century writers.
Because I also write about food and drink, I consider the entirety of cuisine to be a writing snack for me. 😉 But chips and homemade salsa or guacamole bring me the most joy when I reach for them in a peckish mood.
Thank you for hosting me, Lisa Loves Literature!
Becca’s food, drink, and travel writing, which has appeared in local media in CA and NC, can primarily be found at her blog, The Gourmez. For a list of all her published work, fiction and nonfiction, check out her author website at RebeccaGomezFarrell.com.