Friday, November 25, 2022

Interview with Rebecca Gomez Farrell, author of Wings Unfurled (Book 2 of Wings Rising)

Today it gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview Rebecca Gomez Farrell, whose novel Wings Unfurled is our featured new release on December 6.

Wings Unfurled is a sequel to your first novel, Wings Unseen. How did you come to write a sequel and was that your original intention?

When I began daydreaming about writing this fantasy story, way back in college in the early 2000s, I always assumed it would be a trilogy—it’s fantasy, right?! But once I began writing the first book, Wings Unseen, in earnest, the going advice for debut novelists, even in fantasy, was to aim for a standalone novel rather than a series. I took that advice and managed to tell the whole story I envisioned in one book, rather than three. That ultimately made for a much stronger book! But by its publication, I thought I had told all the story about Lansera, the main kingdom in the books, and its characters that I wanted to tell.

Meerkat Press’s publisher, Tricia Meeks, encouraged me to consider a sequel, so the what ifs started rolling around in my head after Wings Unseen’s publication in 2017. I am not a fast writer, and it took probably a year until I could really envision a new story told in this world. But once I could, I absolutely wanted to peel back the next layer of Lanserim spirituality, magic, and culture and the lives of my main characters and share them with readers.

You introduced the countries of Medua and Lansera in Wings Unseen. What can you tell us about them and their world?

A few generations before Wings Unseen starts, Lansera was the only country in this world. It’s ruled mostly wisely by the Albrecht line of monarchs, regional nobles, and town councils. Its citizens are generally motivated to be good people, and they have a strong connection to their goddess Madel. 

A portion of the Lanserim populace decided that they were tired of living by acceptable social mores, and that prizing themselves over others sounded a lot more fun and rewarding. So they rebelled, and a bitter civil war ensued. Ultimately, the Lanserim king ceded the rebels a portion of their lands to stop the bloodshed. That land became Medua, and it was quickly overrun by the most brutal rebels who used a false religion to establish a harsh, patriarchal rule over everyone else in Medua for generations.

By the beginning of Wings Unfurled, the Lanserim and Meduan peoples have been reunited for six years. They’ve learned that Lansera turning a blind eye to the horrors the Meduan rulers visited on their own people ultimately hurt the Lanserim as well. But the reunification of two cultures that have lived by very, very different morals while apart is not easy, and lingering resentment on both sides threatens to boil over into open fighting again.

When Wings Unfurled is published, Wings Unseen will be reissued with new cover art. What prompted that decision and what is the significance of the beautiful stag on the cover of Wings Unfurled?

We decided to correct a mistake we’d made when first marketing Book 1, Wings Unseen. We’d categorized it as young adult fantasy, but that never really fit the book, despite two out of three main characters being teenagers. It reads more as adult epic fantasy. So Tricia and I decided that recategorizing both books made sense, especially with the characters having aged in Wings Unfurled. New cover art is essential to appeal to a new audience, and you want that instant brand recognition across a series. Thus, new cover art! And I am absolutely thrilled to have two gorgeous versions of Wings Unseen artwork now.

The silver stag featured on the cover of Wings Unfurled is a legendary creature that plays a huge role in both books. In Wings Unseen, Janto Albrecht, one of my main characters, slays the stag, fulfilling a prophecy. We learn that the stag is also tied through some sort of essence to Vesperi Sellwyn, another main character and the wielder of the Silver Flame. In Wings Unfurled, that essence is explored more deeply, as is the silver stags’ true nature.

Tell us about the protagonists, Janto, Vesperi, and Serra. How have they changed since the end of Wings Unseen?

Vesperi and Janto have wed, and she now has all the power she ever wanted, both magically and politically. Yet she struggles to find that power can’t fix everything: her and Janto’s daughter Izmareld has disappeared without a trace.  

Vesperi blames Janto for Izzy’s disappearance, and so Janto is at Castle Callyn without his wife’s support. His father is ailing, he may soon become king, but how can he possibly rule a whole country when he couldn’t keep his wife or keep track of his own child? 

Serra still travels the countryside, often as a healer and using her special sight to commune with the spiritual realm. But she is running away from committing to her long-time paramour, Lorne Granich, and her duties as the liege of her home region. Serra has spent so much time sacrificing herself for Lansera, that she can’t imagine what living for herself might look like. Then those dark patches start creeping into her second sight…

As the book begins, all three know the important roles they play as people of prophecy, but they don’t know their own strengths as human beings.

What is the importance of Esye, the silver moon?

I can’t go into detail, as Esye’s importance is a central part of Wings Unfurled! But I can say that Vesperi’s power, the Silver Flame, is drawn from Esye’s essence, and that essence is far more than the mere light that Esye projects onto the Lanserim realm.

When the book begins, Vesperi and Janto have lost their daughter. Tell us about this.

The prologue describes the moment when Izmareld, Vesperi and Janto’s daughter, disappears. She is four, and like many four-year-old children, prone to wandering off when something sparkly catches her eye. Janto commits the grave sin that so many parents fear: letting her out of his sight for a moment. And in that moment, Izzy disappears entirely, leaving no trace. Months have passed by the time Chapter 1 begins. Their stress and heartache over their still missing child are the driving factors in every decision Vesperi and Janto make separately and together, for good or for ill.


Serra possesses second sight, which detects a growing evil. How much can you tell us about this new threat?

It’s different than the claren, the invisible insect horde that consumed people from the inside out in Wings Unseen. This threat creeps in slowly, enshrouding its targets in darkness until they can no longer see the light. The claren bred in the tainted spiritual waters that the Meduan evils created; this one flourishes through doubt and despair.


As well as this duology, you have written many short stories, which have appeared in magazines, websites, and anthologies including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, It Calls From the Sky, PULP Literature, and A Quiet Afternoon 1 & 2. What are the challenges of writing short fiction and novels and do you use a different method?

I begin short stories and novels in similar ways: a character or a few will come to mind along with a concept I want to explore, and then the mood of the piece. As I begin writing, snatches of scenes appear, and I get a feel for the shape of the story. It is generally quite clear to me from the onset if I’m writing a novel or a short story, however. Only once have I written a short story that I’ve realized would be better served as a novel. That’s still a work in progress.

You are communications director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), and helm a local chapter of the national Women Who Submit Lit organization, which encourages all writers who identify as women and/or nonbinary to submit their work for publication. What made you sign up for the former and why is the second important, especially now?

I joined SFWA as soon as I learned about it, which happened to be the same year I qualified to join as an associate, in 2013. Many people don’t realize that SFWA is more than a writers association, it is also a nonprofit that advocates for creators and the SFF genres at large. I had wanted to volunteer more with them, and the pandemic freed up enough of my time that I finally could, so I took over running their social media. Within six months, they offered me a spot on staff, and I accepted, spurred on mostly by my passion for helping communicate the great work SFWA does.

Women Who Submit Lit is a fantastic organization that just received its nonprofit status this year. It’s such a simple concept: women and nonbinary creators come together, in-person or virtually, and spend a few hours focusing on sending their work out for publication. Each time someone hits send, we cheer loudly, providing a burst of endorphins and encouragement to keep sending out more of our work. Especially now, with the publishing industry in constant transition and rejection rates higher than ever, anything that motivates us to keep submitting is beneficial. 

You also co-organize the East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup Group and administer several discussion groups for women, nonbinary, and Bay Area writers. This sounds fascinating and fun but also time-consuming. How do you manage your time?

The honest answer is that I don’t as well as I’d like! Since the pandemic started, my writing motivation has taken a big hit, especially as my husband began working at home—turns out privacy is essential to my creative process. So I couldn’t write, and I suddenly had time for more online volunteering and event organizing. It has brought me a lot of validation and satisfaction during these tumultuous years.

But I’m now in the process of stepping down from a lot of my extracurriculars, including the East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup group and the Bay Area Women Who Submit Lit chapter. Though I love their work and support for the writing community, I need to prioritize my own writing again. Luckily, new organizers are stepping up, so they’ll continue to keep going strong! I’ve been running both for 5+ years, and I’m thrilled that my leaving doesn’t mean those groups will stop thriving.

In addition, you write a food, drink, and travel blog,, which has been going for a decade and a half. What can you tell us about the blog and how far does it influence your fiction? Why would you choose “Absinthe verte, one cube” as your replicator order?

As I often say, my writing and social media posting for The Gourmez influences every tasty bit of my worldbuilding. Food, aromas, textures: these are such powerful conjurers of memory and emotion. Learning how to describe them in salivating detail can be a powerful technique in your writer toolbox. Though I do warn everyone who follows me @theGourmez on social media that my feeds will make you hungry! 

As for my replicator order, I have always been enchanted by the forbidden “banned” lore of absinthe. Since its return to production in the USA, I’ve tried a ton of absinthes, and I simply adore the flavor of black licorice. Absinthe vert means “green absinthe,” though I prefer it if it’s a light natural green from the herbs rather than a vivid one from artificial coloring. One cube refers to the amount of sugar that I like slowly dissolved into my absinthe glass.

Where have your travels taken you and do you have any plans for the immediate future?

Prior to the pandemic, I loved travel! I’ve been to Japan, Romania, the UK, the Netherlands, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and a few other countries. I know it's passé to admit it, but I love hitting up all the standard tourist spots. I’ve often shared travelogues on The Gourmez as well. But this last year, many of the trips I had planned before the pandemic all happened at once, so now…I need a vacation from travel. Hopefully, I’ll get to recharge in 2023. I do have travel planned to NYC in April to take part in the Rooftop Readings series, however!

What are you working on now? Will there be a third volume to follow Wings Unfurled?

My next writing goals are to complete one final revision of my manuscript for the first book in a post-apocalyptic, paranormal romance series and then seek an agent to represent the series. Then I’d really like to return to several short stories that I think are some of my best…but I haven’t had time to work them into masterpieces quite yet. I’ve also begun a horror novel based in the Southwest. Will there be a third Wings Rising book? Well, ask me in a year when potential plot points have had the time to dance around in my head.

Have you any favourite authors or books, inside or outside of the genre?

Inside the genres, I have been most moved by Mary Doria Russell’s duology of The Sparrow and Children of God. I have been most influenced by well-known SFF authors such as Tolkien, of course, George R. R. Martin, and Octavia Butler. I am most inspired by authors who share their experiences with the world through essay, memoir, and literature that manages to convey great truths, such as James Baldwin, Michael W. Twitty, Zora Neale Hurston, Haruki Murakami, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Do you attend conventions and have you got any appearances coming up?

I am not a big convention goer, partially because I do love travel! When I’m visiting somewhere new, I’d rather be outside exploring than inside talking on panels. But I do think the professional development for creators that the Nebula Conference provides is worth those hours spent inside conference rooms, whether in person or online. I also hope to return to Wiscon and Sirens someday, both great conferences that support women in fantasy. I also enjoy my local FogCon and staying abreast of the SFF community in the Bay Area. 

My next reading will be at Story Hour on Wednesday, December 7, at 7:00pm Pacific Time, and I am hosting SFWA’s Weekly Writing Date the following Sunday, December 11, at 2:00pm PT. More events are forthcoming in 2023. I’d be delighted if your readers visited my website,, for future event details or joined my newsletter for updates.

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About Rebecca Gomez Farrell:

Rebecca Gomez Farrell refuses to say “Bloody Mary” three times into a mirror, though she’ll write stories about the people who do. She lives in California’s East Bay with her tech wizard husband and two feline coworkers. Her epic fantasy duology, which includes Wings Unseen and Wings Unfurled, is published by Meerkat Press. Becca’s shorter works have appeared over thirty times in magazines, websites, and anthologies including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, It Calls From the Sky, PULP Literature, and A Quiet Afternoon 1 & 2.
Becca is the communications director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). She helms a local chapter of the national Women Who Submit Lit organization, which encourages all writers who identify as women and/or nonbinary to submit their work out for publication. She also co-organizes the East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup Group and administers several discussion groups for women, nonbinary, and Bay Area writers.
Over the past decade and a half, her food, drink, and travel blog,, has influenced every tasty bite of her fictional worldbuilding. Her replicator order is “Absinthe verte, one cube.”
Author Website: Social Media: @theGourmez. 

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