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Interview with Rajan Khanna


Please welcome Rajan Khanna to The Qwillery. Rising Tide was published on October 6 by Pyr.


Interview with Rajan Khanna




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, Rising Tide (Falling Sky 2), was published on October 6th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote Falling Sky (2014) to Rising Tide?

Rajan:  It definitely changed for this book. I wrote Falling Sky without much of a road map, essentially figuring out everything as I went. With Rising Tide, I knew the world and the characters so that was a big help. That gave me the freedom to focus on the plot and so for the first time, I outlined the novel first so that I would have an idea of what I was writing toward. That outline changed a bit as I wrote it, of course, but the process proved invaluable.



TQIn our previous interview I asked what is the most challenging thing about writing for you? You stated in part "Aside from never seeming to have enough time, I'd say it's sometimes seeing the ending to a work." Has this changed?

Rajan:  Somewhat. As I mentioned, because I outlined this novel, I knew what I was headed for. I knew what the climax of the book was going to be (mostly), so that proved to be a big help. But even with that outline, writing the ending still was a challenge. I think endings are important. I wanted it to be something that was big and climactic and still paid off what had come before. That being said, I'm sure the ending to this one will be divisive.



TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when Falling Sky came out that you know now?

Rajan:  Everything, really. I was so new to the process, every step of it, that a lot of my time was spent in a state of generalized anxiety. I suppose in a small way it's like having a kid. For the first one, you don't know anything and you're looking at books and websites and asking your friends and really just scared about everything. But for a second one, you've been through it before and come out the other side. So you're not only better equipped, but you have less of that anxiety. Hopefully.



TQTell us something about Rising Tide that is not found in the book description.

Rajan:  While all of the books in the series are associated with the element of Air, each of the three planned books has a secondary element association. Rising Tide's is water. This shows up in the form of a ship, an island, a naval base, and a particularly nasty scene with Ben, the main character. For those interested, the secondary element of Falling Sky was Earth and the third book will have a theme of Fire.



TQWhich character in the Falling Sky series (so far) surprised you the most? Who has been the hardest character to write and why?

Rajan:  That's a great (and difficult) question. I think that at some point each of the characters has surprised me. Which is one of the things I love about writing, that feeling that these characters that you create can sometimes seem to have a life of their own. In this novel, though, I think Miranda surprised me the most. There's one moment in this novel that really hit that home. I won't spoil it but I'm hoping that the moment will surprise readers as well.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing novels in a post-apocalyptic setting?

Rajan:  There's a lot I like about writing in this kind of setting. There's this mix of the old and the new -- you can create your own original elements but also pick pieces of our current society (and previous ones) that excite or make the most sense. It's also (and I've said this before) nice to be able to write about people trying to fix things, trying to pull something alive and meaningful out of the bones of the world. Miranda is trying to cure the virus that created the apocalypse. Others are trying to rebuild civilization. Even the cynical Ben has come around to the importance of these efforts.



TQPlease tell us about the cover for Rising Tide.

Rajan:  I've been extremely fortunate with the covers to the first two books. Early on in the process for Rising Tide my then editor, Lou Anders, suggested Chris McGrath and the cover he turned in is amazing. For Rising Tide, my current editor, Rene Sears, wanted to keep things the same but this time suggested having Miranda on the cover. She was very interested in making sure the portrayal was accurate and so we talked about Miranda's look and I searched for some photoreference. She was always meant to be of mixed heritage and I think Chris came up with something that works really well. It's Miranda in the post-apocalypse, essentially. And it's especially appropriate since she takes on a bigger role in this book.



TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Rising Tide.

Rajan

“Don’t get too comfortable in your new world just yet,” I say. “You’re not the first to think you’ve emerged from the Sick. Not the first to think you’ve evolved. I’m all for civilization, but it’s not made of bricks, it’s made of paper.”

“I like paper.”

“So does fire.”



TQWhat's next?

Rajan:  I've begun working on some other projects, but there will be one more volume in the series (at least for the time being). A trilogy is hardly original, but I envisioned having three novels to tell the stories of Ben and his friends and companions and finish that overall arc. So I will being working on that soon. Otherwise I have my usual slate of projects -- a YA book, a weird western, and a screenplay that I'm working on with my screenplay partner Devin Poore.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rajan:  Thank you for having me back.





Rising Tide
Falling Sky 2
Pyr, October 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

Interview with Rajan Khanna
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters-whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.




Previously

Falling Sky
Pyr, October 7, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

Interview with Rajan Khanna
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters-whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.





About Rajan

Interview with Rajan Khanna
Photo by Ellen B. Wright
Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of a New York-based writing group called Altered Fluid. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer magazine, GUD, and several anthologies, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror and the Year's Best Science Fiction. He writes for Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations have appeared on sites such as Wired.com, Lightspeed magazine, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Rajan also writes about wine, beer, and spirits at FermentedAdventures.com. He currently lives in New York.



Website  ~  Twitter @rajanyk



Guest Blog by Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - November 5, 2014


Please welcome Rajan Khanna to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Falling Sky was published on October 7th by Pyr. You may read an interview with Rajan here.



Guest Blog by Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - November 5, 2014




Creating a Post-Apocalyptic World

Creating a post-apocalyptic world has its pros and cons. Setting a work in the future gives you the freedom of taking the world down a specific path without fear of contradiction. At the same time it has to work off of established rules. It's unlikely that you can have working electricity, for example, unless you can explain why. If society has collapsed and the infrastructure to support power plants has gone with it, you'll be hard pressed to explain how people can have working light bulbs and appliances. It becomes a careful balancing act between what is and what might be.

The first, most essential piece, is to define the apocalyptic event. When I was growing up the flavor du jour was a post-nuclear world with radiation and mutants as popularized in the Mad Max movies or the Fallout games. As the fear of nuclear war has faded, that flavor has changed. Today we're more likely to see worlds that result from pandemics, as current events shape our fears.

Part of the original concept that sparked the world of Falling Sky was that I wanted the ground to be dangerous. I wanted it to be avoided if at all possible. Radiation could have worked, I suppose, but a disease felt more fitting to me. Disease not only threatened the survivors, it created more threats. The pandemic I created regressed the infected into animal-like creatures – savage, bestial, and always hungry. Unlike zombies, these are living, breathing creatures – fast moving, with the ability to breed and spread all on their own. The disease is now doubly-threatening – it destroys its victims’ identities while turning them into violent and dangerous creatures with the ability to infect others.

The disease, of course, raised its own world-building issues – how would it be transmitted, what was its mechanism, how could it affect so much of the population? Airborne transmission would have been too much. I needed something that was dangerous but which could be avoided. As with some of the best fictional ideas, I pulled from the real world, from real diseases. Like HIV or Ebola, I decided that my virus would be transmitted through bodily fluids. Unlike those diseases, however, to make it truly earth-shattering, I decided it needed to be able to survive for long periods of time. HIV can’t really survive if exposed to air. My disease can, for minutes even. So if a drop of blood from an infected individual flew through the air and into your mouth, well, you’re done. If that blood hit your forehead and then dripped into your eye, same story. I’m not a microbiologist, so I don’t know the exact likelihood of such a virus, but it seemed within the realm of possibility.

So it became a world where survival takes a variety of forms. On a general level, people go about their lives covered as much as possible. Exposed skin means the risk of an open wound that can be infected. Eyes and mouths need to be covered. So people wear hats and scarves and masks and goggles. They minimize contact with other people. They fear physical intimacy. Because the disease can take days to fully express itself, it’s difficult to tell who’s infected and who isn’t. Humanity then faces extinction on two fronts – from the disease itself, and from the lack of reproduction that it inspires.

The other major method of survival is to stay off of the ground. That’s where the Ferals, the infected, live. So you have a group of survivors who live on airships or in floating cities. Places where the Ferals can’t get. Of course making that work involved some world-building as well.

It was easy to envision a world in the near future where fuel costs had become so prohibitive that other methods of transport had to be relied upon. We’re practically there now. Modern airships are being tested as we speak, for cargo, passenger transport, and even surveillance. In my world of the future, airships became the predominant means of transportation, taking up the role of planes and ships, if not outright replacing them. When the apocalypse happened, people flocked to these vehicles to take themselves to safety.

Airships still require fuel, of course, but here the speculative nature of the world came into play. These airships are designed for biofuels and rely partly on solar power. Helium would be a problem, but hydrogen, flammable thought it is, is much more easily produced. It wasn’t hard to imagine a world where these ships could continue to fly for generations.

Of course food doesn’t grow in the sky. Neither do any other supplies, so to make this kind of system work, you would need people to go down to the ground, to forage for supplies and food and whatever they could find from the old world. The economy would become one of barter, with people trading for what they need. Ben, my main character, became one of those foragers, someone who spent most of his time in the sky, but made a living by going down to the ground to pick among the remains of the past.

In the end, it all came together for me. The world came alive. A dangerous world full of scared, isolated people, forced to interact to continue to survive. Of course in a world like that, there would be those who would take advantage of those conditions to take more for themselves. But there would also be those, like Miranda, another of my characters, who would try to build something for the future. Who would organize to help heal the world in whatever way she could.

All of these considerations went into the creation of Falling Sky. I’m proud of what came out, and feel that it’s rich enough for me to base future stories in the world. I hope that readers find the world compelling enough to visit it along with me.





Falling Sky
Pyr, October 7, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

Guest Blog by Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - November 5, 2014
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters-whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.





About Rajan

Guest Blog by Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - November 5, 2014
Photo by Ellen B. Wright
Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of a New York-based writing group called Altered Fluid. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer magazine, GUD, and several anthologies, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror and the Year’s Best Science Fiction. He writes for Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations have appeared on sites such as Wired.com, Lightspeed magazine, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Rajan also writes about wine, beer, and spirits at FermentedAdventures.com. He currently lives in New York.



Website  ~  Twitter @rajanyk




Interview with Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - October 6, 2014


Please welcome Rajan Khanna to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Falling Sky will be published on October 7th by Pyr.



Interview with Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - October 6, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Rajan:  I've been telling stories my whole life but the first time I can actually remember writing a whole story was in 7th grade, for an assignment. It was a horribly cliche and moralistic tale, filled with elements lifted from D&D, but it is the first actual written story that I can remember. As for the why, as mentioned I've always told stories -- through action figures, roleplaying games, whatever. I had all these ideas inside my head so once I realized I could capture them in stories it put me on the path to writing.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Rajan:  I am mostly a pantser. Part of the joy of writing for me is figuring out the story, and even being surprised by it. However, I will say that after working on novels, I now appreciate the benefits of having a road map to work from, especially for longer works.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Rajan:  Aside from never seeming to have enough time, I'd say it's sometimes seeing the ending to a work. Because I don't outline, sometimes I jump into a story without knowing where it will go. Sometimes that means not knowing the ending for months. Or more. Luckily, as was the case with Falling Sky, sometimes it just seems to fall into place.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Rajan:  Roger Zelazny, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock are three of my favorites and influences. I'm also a fan of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Dune is probably my favorite SF novel. Contemporary writers include Richard Morgan, Jeff VanderMeer, China Mieville, George R. R. Martin, and Gene Wolfe, and Jeffrey Ford is my favorite writer of short stories.



TQ:  Describe Falling Sky in 140 characters or less.

Rajan:  I hate talking about my own book so I'm going to quote Tad William's blurb: " It’s a fast ride, scary and twisty-turny, and it also has plenty of airships, zombies, and sarcasm, three of the best things in the world."



TQ:  Tell us something about Falling Sky that is not in the book description.

Rajan:  I sometimes base character's physical appearances on actors. That is not the case with Ben, my POV character, but it was the case with two of my secondary characters, Diego and Claudia, who are based on two of my favorite actors. I don't want to give away who they are based on, but I will provide clues. The actor who inspired Diego is mostly known for his television roles but has appeared in movies, including two recent Marvel movies. The actor who inspired Claudia has likewise done both television and movies but has also done video game voices as well. Most of her work has been in science fiction. I wonder if anyone will be able to guess...



TQ:  What inspired you to write Falling Sky? How would you describe the genre(s) of the novel?

RajanFalling Sky is based on a short story of the same name that I wrote at the Clarion West Writers Workshop back in 2008. I had a vague sense of a story where people lived predominantly in the sky, using airships to get around, to avoid something on the ground. One night that became a story and the response to that story was largely that it should be expanded into a novel.

In terms of genres, it is a bit of a mishmash. The setting is post-apocalyptic, taking place after a pandemic which has regressed most of humanity into bestial creatures called Ferals. It's not steampunk at all, but it does have airships. The Ferals are not zombies but bear a little resemblance to their undead counterparts. And it draws as well from thrillers with a touch of western and noir in there as well.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Falling Sky?

Rajan:  I mostly did research into modern airships and the geography of the western U.S. Not to downplay the research at all, but setting it in the near future meant that I had a bit more freedom (compared with other projects set in the past which have to stand up to more scrutiny).



TQ:  In Falling Sky who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Rajan:  Ben is the POV character and there's more than a little of me in Ben so I'd say he was the easiest. Other than him, I had a lot of fun with Claudia. As for the hardest, I think that it took me the longest to connect with the character of Rosie. I could visualize her pretty well, I had a good sense of her, but she wasn't coming through very well. Turned out I had to give her a little more space and that definitely helped.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Falling Sky.

Rajan:
"The thing you have to understand for this to all make sense is that Miranda’s a little crazy. Back in the Clean, they would have called her idealistic, but back in the Clean idealistic wouldn’t have gotten you killed. Or maybe it would. I’ve never been too good at history."



TQ:  What's next?

Rajan:  I have a few projects that I'm working on at the moment. One of those is a sequel to Falling Sky. I'm also working on a young adult mystery novel. Then there are a few more projects after those including a weird western and something that might turn into a horror novel.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Rajan:  Thank you so much for inviting me.





Falling Sky
Pyr, October 7, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

Interview with Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - October 6, 2014
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters-whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.





About Rajan

Interview with Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - October 6, 2014
Photo by Ellen B. Wright
Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a member of a New York-based writing group called Altered Fluid. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer magazine, GUD, and several anthologies, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror and the Year’s Best Science Fiction. He writes for Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations have appeared on sites such as Wired.com, Lightspeed magazine, Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Rajan also writes about wine, beer, and spirits at FermentedAdventures.com. He currently lives in New York.



Website  ~  Twitter @rajanyk




2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna


2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.


Rajan Khanna

Falling Sky
Pyr, October 7, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 260 pages
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters-whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.


Interview with Rajan KhannaGuest Blog by Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - November 5, 2014Interview with Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky - October 6, 20142014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna

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