Interview with Rajan Khanna

Rajan KhannaRajan Khanna’s story, The Furies, appears in Shimmer’s Pirate Issue! Yarr!  (He’s also appeared in Issue #11, The Clockwork Jungle Issue, with his story The Emperor’s Gift.)


Where did the idea come from?
I was originally writing a different pirate story, one that was started before the Shimmer issue was announced, but it wasn’t coming along. Someone close to me told me to write about female pirates. I initially discarded the idea, but it took root somehow. I started thinking of the masks and then the story grew from there.

How did the story change as you developed it?
The first change was concerning the narrator. I realized halfway through writing it that he was unreliable, and that, in a way, he had even been lying to me. Once I recognized that, and confirmed that he was still a pirate, the rest of the story became clear.
It also had a different ending in the beginning and the fantasy element was slighter. The editor asked for a rewrite, though, and I complied, moving some parts of the story around in the process.

You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?
As mentioned, the original ending was different. In the original version, Michael eventually leaves the ship and we get to see Gwendolyn.

How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
I have a deep love for adventure stories and period pieces whether involving pirates or zeppelins or the Wild West or whatever. So this draws on that background in the same way that other of my stories do. It also contains some references to mythology which is something I sometimes do.
It’s different probably most of all because of the protagonist. I don’t want to say too much about Michael – I’m far more interested in how other people respond to him – but he’s a different kind of viewpoint character than those I usually write.

Questions About Writing:

What writing projects are you presently working on?
I have a completed fantasy novel that I’m currently sending out to agents and a number of short stories in various genres that I’m working on.

Are you satisfied with traditional labels for genre fiction? Do words like “speculative,” “slipstream,” and, for that matter, “genre” cover it? What would you suggest?
I think labels are most useful to marketers and to consumers. As a writer, I don’t really think about it too much. I don’t identify with a specific label.

Do you have a specific food or drink that you consider a writing staple?
If I’m writing in the morning, it has to be espresso. Otherwise, nothing that remains stable.

Do you work with a critique or writers group?
I am currently a member of The Secret Cabal, a writers group in New York.

Does your work tend to explore any particular themes?
The quest to find God is one of the themes that seems to come up a lot in my stories. Though not usually in a reassuring way. I also try to look at inequalities – of race, of class, of gender.

It’s been said that readers can be divided into two groups: those who like The Iliad and those who like The Odyssey. Which camp are you in?
I like both, but I think that I prefer the Odyssey. I usually am likely to pick an adventure story over a military one.

Random Questions:

What is your darkest secret?
Nice try.

Have you ever eaten a crayon? Tell us about it.
No, but I have eaten things that taste like crayons. I prefer crayons – at least they taste the way they’re supposed to.

Fast food: Yea or Nay?
Very much nay.

All-time favorite movie?
Apocalypse Now is probably my favorite right now.

What are some of your hobbies?
Aside from writing stories I also write songs and play guitar and piano.

Is there anything that you would sell your soul for?

Actually, no.

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Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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