Last year, science fiction writer K.B. Wagers’ Beyond The Empire brought her epic sci-fi space opera trilogy The Indranan War to a close…sort of. As she mentioned in the interview she and I did back then for that book [which you can read here], Beyond The Empire was the third and final book of The Indranan War, but that The Indranan War was just the first trilogy; a second, The Farian War, would be starting with the October 9th release of There Before The Chaos (paperback, Kindle).
With October 9th finally upon us — or past us, depending on when you read this — I once again bugged Wagers via email to us everything we need to know about the new book, this second trilogy, and whether we’ll ever see our hero on the big or small screen.
Photo Credit: Donald Branum
As you may remember, I always like to start with an overview of the plot. So, what is The Farian War trilogy about, what is There Before The Chaos about, and how do There Before The Chaos and The Farian War trilogy connect, both narratively and chronologically, to The Indranan War trilogy and, specifically, the last book in that series,Beyond The Empire?
The Farian War trilogy is a new adventure for Hail and company. This time the stakes are bigger than just Indrana, as our gunrunner empress finds herself the unlikely peacemaker between two warring alien races.
There Before The Chaos is the first book in this new trilogy. Hail has thrown herself into the reconstruction of her empire, only to have her plans sidetracked when the Farians, one of Indrana’s oldest allies, asks for her help in a long-running conflict with the Shen.
This story picks up about six months after the end of Beyond The Empire. However, readers will be able to pick up There Before The Chaos without having read any of the previous books.
Where did you get the original idea for There Before The Chaos, how different is the finished novel from that initial concept, and when in the process of writing The Indranan War trilogy did you come up with the idea for There Before The Chaos and The Farian War trilogy?
The idea for There Before The Chaos actually happened during the writing of After The Crown, the second book in The Indranan War trilogy, with a casual mention of a Shen attack on a colony and Hail’s former pilot who’d been involved in the evacuation. The idea grew during a rather pivotal moment towards the end of After The Crown involving Hail and the Farian Fase Terass.
But There Before The Chaos is pretty different from the original idea. We went through two major edit passes, and I had a bit of difficulty wrangling the plot into submission the whole time I was writing it.
You kind of just answered this, but I’ll ask anyway: Why did you decide to set There Before The Chaos six months after Beyond The Empire as opposed to a year or ten years or twenty years?
Six months gave us enough time to get Indrana back on her feet in a number of ways as well as set the stage for some of the events in There Before The Chaos. Setting it out too far in the future would have dulled some of the emotional impact that Hail and others are struggling with at the beginning of the story. The events of Beyond The Empire have a lasting and powerful effect on our heroine and the readers get to see her dealing with that in a way I don’t think would have been as meaningful had it been a year or more out.
The Indranan War trilogy was a science fiction space opera. Is that the case with There Before The Chaos as well, or are there other sci-fi subgenres at work as well?
The Farian War trilogy is also space opera, but with a much wider scope than the first trilogy.
Are there any writers, stories, movies, TV shows, or games that had a big influence on There Before The Chaos but not on The Indranan War books?
I will be brutally honest: The last year of working on this has wiped my brain clean. I know I’ve read some excellent books, but I can’t say if any of them directly influenced the work I did on There Before The Chaos. In large part because I don’t often read while I’m writing and the edits for this book were on an extremely tight timeline so there wasn’t actually any time for reading…or for watching TV.
I will say Avengers: Infinity War hit me like a sack of bricks, but I was completely done with both edits and copyedits when that came out, so even if I’d wanted to have it influence There Before The Chaos, it didn’t. Similarly, the title of Down Among The Dead had been picked way in advance so I can’t even blame the Russo brothers for that.
I was going to ask about that. That’s the second book in The Farian War trilogy. Do you know when that will be out?
Down Among The Dead will be out fall of 2019.
And the third book?
The conclusion of The Farian War trilogy, Out Past The Stars, will be on shelves fall of 2020.
One of the reasons I asked about the release dates is that I read all three books in The Indranan War trilogy back-to-back, and am planning to do the same with The Farian War books. But is there a story-based reason why I, and other people thinking of doing the same thing, shouldn’t do this?
I honestly don’t think it’s my place to tell readers how to enjoy their books, so I’m going to go with read them however it makes you happy. There isn’t anything about the novels themselves that don’t lend well to reading either spaced apart or one right after the other. Obviously, there’s a major plot for the trilogy which results in some cliffhanger moments from one book to the next, but again I think it’s down to personal preference.
Though I do deeply appreciate it when folks buy the books as they are released, even if they decide to wait until the whole trilogy is out to start reading.
You mentioned earlier that people can read There Before The Chaos without having read The Indranan War books. Why was this important to you?
We did a lot of work to make sure that There Before The Chaos and the other books in The Farian War trilogy can stand on their own. There are spoilers from the first set that readers will stumble on, that was inevitable, however one wouldn’t feel like they’d just picked up book four of a series were they to start reading with There Before The Chaos as their introduction to Hail and company.
This was important to me for a couple of reasons. First, I’m not a huge fan of long-running series because I like to reread books before the next one comes out, and at about book six or so that becomes untenable. Second, the nature of the stories themselves yield nicely to the structure of a three-book arc.
I will say that readers of The Indranan War trilogy will get a few inside jokes that new readers won’t catch. That’s just my way of saying thanks to those who’ve been with us since the beginning.
Now, in our previous interview, I asked if there had been any interest in adapting The Indranan War series into a movie, TV show, or video game, and you said there was, “a lot of interest and are in ongoing discussions to finalize a deal.” Can you say any more about now?
I can! Back at the beginning of August we announced that we’d signed an option deal for Behind The Throne with producer David Barron [who produced six of the Harry Potter movies]. This is just the first step in a marathon as far as these things go, but we’re looking forward to seeing what David can do about bringing Hail and company to the big screen or to TV.
Finally, if someone enjoys There Before The Chaos, and they’ve already read The Indranan Warbooks, what similar sci-fi space opera would you suggest they read while waiting for Down Among The Deadto come out?
I just finished Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie which is more military science fiction I think than space opera, but still incredibly excellent storytelling. It’s a mash-up of Battlestar Galacticaand Robocopwith a healthy dose of rebellion thrown into the mix.
I’m also going to give a shout-out to Drew Williams’ The Stars Now Unclaimed which is all the best bits of space opera: galactic scale conflicts, massive space battles, and touching personal relationships that will reach right into your chest and squeeze your heart to pieces. Trust me, that’s a good thing. I got to read this early, and I’ve been jonesing to take another spin through it when I have the time.