All this week at Novel Novice we’re featuring Wildwing by Emily Whitman (and later we’ll feature Emily’s other book, Radiant Darkness). This is a really fun book to read, and it has the added bonus of inspiring some great history lessons! (Radiant Darkness will inspire some great lessons on Greek mythology, too!) But before we dive into all the fun ways to explore these books, we want to start by telling you more about Wildwing. So here is what the book is all about and the fantastic book trailer:
Addy knows there’s so much more to life than what she has. She must be destined for more than being a maid to an eccentric elderly man. And so when she finds a mysterious contraption in the gentleman’s study, of course she steps inside. Of course she bumps into the wrong button. Suddenly Addy is in medieval England, mistaken for the young woman betrothed to the lord of the nearby manor. It’s destiny. But is it home? And will she ever find her way back to her own time? Will she want to, once she’s met the shy, handsome falconer’s apprentice?
Oh, but you want to know more? We did, too. So Emily herself wrote up a guest post to tell us more about Wildwing and the story behind it:
* * *
Hi! Thanks for having me here on Novel Novice to talk about Wildwing. I’d like to tell you a bit about the book, and then take you into the world behind the story.
So, the book!
It’s 1913, and Addy’s mother keeps telling her to be quiet, humble, and meek, as befits her lowly status, but Addy can’t shrink herself that small. When she gets into one fight too many, she’s pulled out of school and set to work as a maid for an eccentric old man, Mr. Greenwood, who hasn’t been quite right since the disappearance of his son. One day she opens a locked door and finds a time travel machine. This is her chance! She’ll run away to the past and reinvent herself as someone totally new. Dressed in a stolen medieval costume, Addy climbs into the lift and goes whirling and rattling back to the 13th century. There she’s found wandering the remains of a shipwreck and mistaken for Lady Matilda, ward of the king. If Addy can play her part, she’ll have the respect and riches she’s always dreamed of. But it turns out Lady Matilda is coming to marry Sir Hugh, the much older lord of the castle, where there are secrets aplenty. What’s more, as Addy takes up falconry, she starts falling in love with Will, the falconer’s son. And when the spy in the castle dungeon turns out to be someone from her past, Addy has difficult and dangerous decisions to make that will affect, not just her own life, but that of everyone at the castle.
Sometimes people ask me how I got the idea for Wildwing. The book has two hearts—one playful, and one that I feel very deeply. When I started the book, I was only aware of the playful part: the adventures of time travel, the rush of imagining myself in a different world, the joy of spending time with falcons and calling it research. But as I got to know Addy, I realized she was saying some things that resonated in my heart. I was miserable in middle school. I felt trapped by the way people saw me, by the labels I was given. In Wildwing, after Addy is teased, her thoughts are brutally honest, words I recognized from that time in my life. “If I could,” she says, “I’d shed the girl I am like a snake slides out of a ragged, outgrown skin. I’d change my hair, my clothes, my name. And if anyone asked me about Addy Morrow, I’d deny she ever existed.”
For me, starting high school was that break where I could start over. For the first time in years I felt like my real self, able to reach better parts of who I already was. Does that make sense? I wonder if Addy would have come to the same realizations, found the same strength, if she’d stayed in her own world.
I’m intrigued by the parts of ourselves we keep hidden, even from ourselves, and what it takes for us to discover them. I’d love to hear what you think! I hope you’ll comment here on Novel Novice, or email me.
Did I mention the falcons in Wildwing? Falcons are amazing. Researching the book was my chance to hold a falcon on my fist, to hear the sound of the air ripping in two when a gyrfalcon dives for its prey, to feel the wind from a peregrine’s wing on my face. But falcons also raised interesting questions for both Addy and me. What does it mean to be wild or tame? How do our views of the natural world influence how we see nature within ourselves? What are our associations with wings, angels and faith? And what does freedom mean? You know, every time a falcon flies, it has a choice whether to return to the falconer’s glove, and that’s a kind of freedom, too: the freedom to return. There are so many interesting connections with these magnificent creatures.