With the release of Beyond The Empire (paperback, Kindle), sci-fi writer K.B. Wagers is bringing her The Indranan War trilogy to a close. But as she revealed in the following email interview, while this book may end this series, it’s not the end of the story.
Photo Credit: Donald Branum
To beginning, what is The Indranan War trilogy about, what is Beyond The Empire about, and aside from being the third part of the trilogy, how does Beyond The Empire connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the previous two books, Behind The Throne and After The Crown?
The Indranan War trilogy is the story of the legendary empress of Indrana, Hail Bristol, who ran away from home, changed her name, became a gunrunner, and then was dragged home to become the empress when the rest of her family was murdered. While dodging assassins and a plot to destroy the empire, Hail comes to terms with the duty she never imagined she’d end up with.
The books follow each other linearly, so Beyond The Empire takes place right after the events of After The Crown. In this conclusion to the trilogy, Hail is coming home to route the last of the traitors and — hopefully — have her revenge on the man who murdered her family.
Beyond The Empire, like the other two books, is a science fiction story. But is there a subgenre of sci-fi, or combination of them, that you feel best describes this book and the series?
The Indranan War fits solidly in the space opera camp with Orbit [the books’ publisher] doing a consistent comparison to Star Wars. I think it works well for fans of that genre. There are battles and science, but it’s not heavily influenced. I like reading books about people and their relationships with each other, so those are the kind of books I write.
Are there any writers or specific books that you feel were a big influence on Beyond The Empire, in terms of what you wrote and how you wrote, that did not have an impact on Behind The Throne and After The Crown?
I feel a bit like a failure when I answer these questions with a “No.” [laughs] Truth is, the publication schedule for this trilogy was really tight, and I work 40-plus hours a week at a day job, so there wasn’t a lot of free time for reading.
How about non-literary influences; are there any movies, TV shows, or video games that you think had a big impact on Beyond The Empire?
I have a weird habit of not watching new things while I’m writing, which leads to a lot of binge watching between books. Though I made a couple of exceptions throughout the year. Looking back on it, Captain America: Civil War may have had an impact, but I can’t really talk about it without spoilers.
I also listened to Hamilton a lot while I was writing Beyond The Empire, and that’s kind of a rare thing, for me to listen to a soundtrack of any kind, let alone what’s essentially a full play while I’m writing. The biggest influence that probably had is that Lin-Manuel Miranda makes me want to be a better writer.
As we discussed, Beyond The Empire is the third and final book in The Indranan War trilogy. If someone is just now learning about this series, would you suggest they read all three books in a row, or do you think it would work better to split them up?
That’s an interesting question. I’d say — and judging by reactions from readers about the end of After The Crown, they’d agree — that reading them back to back is best. Though one could certainly split them up if they needed a break from the story. The pace is rather deliberately what I’d call “heart in throat,” and doesn’t leave a lot of time for one to catch their breath.
You recently announced that you’re working on a new trilogy, The Farian War, which will kick off in the fall of 2018 with There Before The Chaos. First off, is there a connection between The Indranan War and The Farian War?
There is a connection, but readers will be able to pick up There Before The Chaos and read it even if they haven’t read the first trilogy, though there will be some spoilers just because of the nature of the story. The survivors of the Indranan War will be in the new trilogy, and we’ll see some new faces as well.
So what is There Before The Chaos and the rest of The Farian War trilogy going to be about?
There Before The Chaos starts up about six months after the end of Beyond The Empire. Hail is settling into her life as empress of Indrana, trying to help oversee the reconstruction efforts and the push for equality in Indranan society. An ancient rivalry between the two alien races in the Milky Way galaxy — readers will be familiar with the Farians if they’ve read the first trilogy — and a new race called the Shen flares up, and Hail finds herself caught in the middle. She desperately attempts to avoid getting involved but is dragged in nonetheless and ends up trying to facilitate a peace before these two mortal enemies plunge the whole of the galaxy into war.
I asked earlier if Beyond The Empire had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or video games. But I’m also curious about the flipside: Has there been any interest in adapting Beyond The Empire and the rest of The Indranan War trilogy into a movie, show, or game?
Oooo. [grins] I’d tell you about that, but then I’d have to space you.
On a more serious note, I’m allowed to say that we’ve had a lot of interest and are in ongoing discussions to finalize a deal. That’s all I got at the moment, unless I want my agent to space me.
I don’t have an opinion one way or another about which format would be best. Honestly, about 90% of my brainpower right now is devoted to the new project and remembering to feed the cats so they don’t eat me in my sleep.
If it was to be made into a movie or TV show, who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?
For obvious reasons, most of the cast needs to be actors of color. I’ve had some faces in my brain from the get go, but I know enough about casting that it’s not just about how someone looks. You need actors with the right temperament, the right chemistry with each other, schedules, etc. It’s a lot harder than it seems to put a great cast together. What would really make me happy I think is for the casting decisions to stay true to the book.
Finally, if someone enjoys Behind The Throne, After The Crown, and Beyond The Empire, and they’re looking for something to read while waiting for There Before The Chaos to come out, what novel by someone else would you suggest they read and why that?
Oh, that’s a toughie and I’m gonna cheat. If you’re looking for more kick-ass women in space, Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion is stunning. If folks are looking for something in the same vein as Hail, e.g. space opera, I say check out the Keiko series by Mike Brooks [Dark Run, Dark Sky, and Dark Deeds] which is about a crew of thieves and con artists [to learn more, check out my new interview with Mike Books here]. And if you want something that’s breathtaking with just simply gorgeous prose, read Kiini Ibura Salaam’s collection of short stories Ancient, Ancient.