Colleen Houser is the author of the Wingéd series and the short story, “Half”. The series takes a metaphysical fiction premise and gives it an interesting fantasy twist. When she isn’t writing or researching, you can find her drawing character portraits for her comprehensive world guide, The Handbook: A Guide to the Wingéd.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Colleen Houser was destined to be a freak. While earning her degree in English/Language and Discourse and working at Sylvan Learning Center, she supplemented her time by reading about dragons, going to Renaissance faires, and writing about death and angels. After she graduated, she did the unthinkable. She married a man who loved the same things she did that she met on the internet and left it all behind to move to his hometown in West Virginia. Here, she has held a few titles including: tutor, data entry specialist, and author, but her favorite will always be, ‘Hey you, move.
How did you get into writing?
I got into writing because my parents wanted me to leave them alone for just one minute. I used to badger my parents to read to me relentlessly. They would, but when the story was over, I would ask them, “What happened after that?”
My mom asked me, “Well, what do you think?” I couldn’t have been more than three.
Silly Mommy must have lost her mind. She had no idea what she was talking about. “Noooooo… I don’t know what happens.”
“Use your imagination. You can make it up, and then, you can tell me what happens.” Oh, how the heavens did part! I was a storyteller.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example, how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
Every morning, I get up, put my wireless headphones on, and I walk my daily 6000 steps. I’m not really awake at this time, but it allows my mind to play out several different scenarios. The more tired I am, the more the scenes appear. Sometimes, it gets me into trouble though, and I end up overhauling the whole novel from one scene that appears in my head.
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
I put more of myself and my personal story into my novels than I care to admit. There are parts in the novel when the main character, Friedel, is having a one-on-one conversation with her Angel Wingéd, Malene, and they start discussing feelings of isolation, of not being enough, of wanting to be loved. Some of the things she admits to Malene aren’t things that I had plotted. They had to come from somewhere, didn’t they?
How did you come up with the book title?
The title comes from the name of the spirits in the novel. They are called the Wingéd. They are a hybrid spirit created from the merging of a human soul with a winged spirit. There are all types of winged spirits: angels, dragons, phoenixes, fairies, and all sorts. The title doesn’t mention type because it’s uncertain which the main character will be if she’s successful.
Plot and Synopsis
Can you describe the book plot and give a detailed synopsis of the book, of course without any spoilers.
Wingéd follows Friedel, a street-level gang enforcer. When she is found murdered, her soul is reaped by Mien, a Moth Wingéd, who takes her to the Hall of Wingéd. The Wingéd, as I’ve explained, are guardians of the living, and she has been chosen to join them. To earn her wings, she and the other candidates will take a perilous dive off the highest mountain peak called the Leap. But if she is unable to face the crimes of her past, she’ll be lost to the abyss forever. While they prepare, they discover the Wingéd have been losing more and more candidates to the Leap, and she is their only hope. She must discover the reason before the Wingéd find out the truth about her. But how can someone whose life reveals such evils ever be redeemed?
Is there any movie, book, or television series that you can somewhat liken your story to? So for example, some books you can say are like Game of Thrones or Star Wars, what mainstream and popular movie do you think your book somewhat “feels” like? Did you want this to be the case?
I would describe Wingéd as a cross between Anne McCaffrey’s series The Dragonriders of Pern and the television series Dead Like Me. The rest of the Wingéd series takes place in the past, so it’s a bit more like The Dragonriders of Pern, but this first novel is a little more modern with the themes of letting go like Dead Like Me.
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book if any? Are there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
Yes. I’m a big believer in the idea that evil is made and not born, and this novel (all the novels in the series) discusses what it feels like to have made some serious mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes feel like they were best at the time, but they’ve all led you down a path you may or may not like. It explores coming to terms with what you’ve done if you have complete forgiveness, moving on, and letting go. Friedel is an extremely flawed individual, so her journey from her death to the end of the novel is more difficult than most.
Off the wall question, but would some of the issues being explored in the book relate to us here in the real world?
Absolutely. Every single one of us is flawed. Perhaps not in the same way, but we’re all flawed. The reader might not be able to relate to everything Friedel has done, but they can certainly understand where she’s coming from.
What can you tell us about the setting that we will be seeing in this book?
The novel predominately takes place at the Hall of Wingéd, which is in a plane of the dead. (There are many.) Once a person crosses over, only their specific Moth Wingéd can take a person back.
What cultures or societies can we expect to see and can you tell us about how you came up with creating these societies? Was it difficult to get deep into how the societies function?
Each of the Wingéd types has their own sub-culture based on the type of job they fulfill. The Dragon Wingéd have a military structure. The Fairy and Pixie Wingéd have a guild system. The one we see the most in the first novel is that of the Angel Wingéd, and they exemplify the Wingéd main creed which is acceptance, forgiveness, and moving on. For the most part, the different types are autonomous in how they choose to run things, but the entire Hall is governed by an Angel Wingéd called the Seraph, who has three sets of wings. The Seraph is sometimes balanced out by the elder Angels, but for the most part, the Seraph has the final say in Hall matters.
I wouldn’t say that it was difficult to do, but it did take a lot of time. There’s a lot to think about since a society has a lot of moving parts. There’s history, politics, religion, sociology, and even how other cultures clash with that. It really helps to explain it to someone new and see what questions they have. That helps fill in the gaps.
Tell us about the history of the land or world or worlds that we will be exploring throughout the book?
Wingéd doesn’t do a lot of exploring of the history like Dragon Wingéd, Wingless, and Moth Wingéd do. Wingéd does present the myth of the first Wingéd. In the beginning, everyone was immortal but suffering due to overpopulation. The leader asks the original spirits for help, and the spirits give them the gift of death. The people are frightened of death, and thus, sacrifice the leader’s daughter to see what will happen. I drop hints of the people who appear in Dragon Wingéd, like Cassius the Wingless, the most notorious Wingéd in their history. There’s a little about how the Bird Wingéd became monastic. And Moth Wingéd explores even farther back. That’s when you start getting into the Nephilim, and even they have their own history and lore.
What can you tell us about some of the main characters and villains in this book?
The main character is Friedel, and we meet her at the end of her life. It’s only through her accounts to Malene that we get to piece together her story. She has a very tough exterior, so even though she’s in a scary situation, she seems more hesitant than anything. And it’s not until later that she eventually breaks, and the reader sees how frightened she is.
In a way, the Leap is the main villain in the novel. Yes, there are Demons, and not to say that the Grand Master isn’t intimidating, but the worst thing facing our heroine is the trial she must endure. She’s jumping off a ledge taller than Mt. Everest, and she doesn’t know if she’ll be saved. The Leap is risking the possibility of a second death, and it casts a long shadow no matter what situation Friedel is in.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/colleenehouser
How to buy
eBook: $3.99 on Amazon Kindle or FREE with KOLL or Kindle Unlimited
Please nominate another author you really like and has not yet reached mainstream and a small paragraph about why you believe this author is someone to really look into.
I would like to nominate my friend, Malin James. She’s a brilliant short story writer and essayist. She likes to mix her genres, but she likes to write about feminism, books, fairytales, and mental health. She likes to write about the human experiences.
You can check her out at http://malinjames.com