Let’s start with an introduction: Who is K.B. Wagers?
I have no idea. *laughs* “I am a writer stitched together with ink and dreams” would be the fanciful answer. I’m a native Coloradan, a pretty stubborn Taurus, a lover of coffee and cats (though I prefer if my cats stay out of my coffee), a fan of explosions, and a hopeless optimist.
Your debut novel, Behind the Throne, was recently published by Orbit. It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?
I am honestly so awful at this! It’s been awesome to have reviews for the book because my words tend to fail me when I’m asked to talk about my work. Behind the Throne is a story about a woman coming to grips with her past and her family, something that’s challenging enough on its own; but when people are trying to kill you it adds a whole other level of difficulty. When Hail finds out that her sisters have been murdered and she’s the only person left to help her empire, she trades in her gunrunning life for a crown and discovers that life in a palace is even more dangerous than the underside of the galaxy.
Orbit have also announced the sequel, After the Crown, due out in December. What can fans of the first novel expect from the second? Are there plans to extend the series further?
More explosions, more sass, and a betrayal no one will see coming. Fans will get to see Hail hook up with some old friends from her gunrunning days and watch her BodyGuards wrestle with keeping her safe outside the palace. She’s in her element in After the Crown, and it shows.
There is a third book in the Indranan War series, it’s currently set to come out December of 2017.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
The inspiration for BTT was a Christmas tree ornament from my grandmother. I was lying on my couch back in December of 2009 and spotted this tatted diamond. The opening scene for the book just kind of slammed into my head, and that design ended up as the basis for the Star of Indrana tattoo that’s on Emmory’s cheek. I scrambled for my laptop, and the rest is history.
Everything inspires me. My biggest issue is probably that I have 10 million ideas and not enough time in the world to get to them all.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I’ve been reading it for so long I’m not sure I could pinpoint a date. Since Curious George? *laughs*
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I’ve been a writer for a long time and only recently went through that final door into the publishing industry. Things really haven’t changed a whole lot for me overall. One of the benefits to taking a long time to get published is you develop a lot of good consistent habits that some newer writers might still be working on. I’ve got a great team at Orbit, both in the US and across the pond, which has made this pretty hectic schedule I’m on a lot easier to manage.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
I have a day job and a family, so it’s imperative to have dedicated time for things. Since I’m on a tight deadline right now, when I get home from work it’s a routine of workout/write/bed that’s super consistent. I’m lucky enough to have a home office that is all mine and I go in there and put up my “Do Not Disturb” Hulk sign (which the cats ignore) and get to work. If something comes up that interferes with that schedule, I have learned to prioritize things pretty diligently. Writing almost always comes first right now. I tend to set aside specific time for research rather than trying to work it into the writing time, so my manuscript has a lot of notes in it even on the zero draft about looking things up or verifying information.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I joke that I’ve been writing since I learned how to write. *laughs* It’s not far off the mark though. Somewhere in my childhood keepsakes is a crayon version of Romeo and Juliet. I have fond memories of some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fanfiction before the Internet was a thing. And my first novel was an alien invasion story I wrote in high school and printed out on a dot matrix printer. I’ve written several million words in the last 40 years and none of them was wasted. Everything I’ve done up to this point has made me better so I do look back on a lot of it fondly – no matter how awful it may be. *grins and winks*
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I am beyond excited about the direction that SFF is taking today. I want to read stories about interesting characters by people who truly know them because they’re living that life. The inclusion movement being spearheaded especially by women of color is producing such beautiful stories. I am in a privileged position and want to use that to provide work that isn’t the same old same old. It means I’m going to always be aware of what topics I shouldn’t try and that I’m checking myself constantly to make sure that the people I’m portraying aren’t coming across as stereotypes rather than real characters. It also means I’m going to screw up. I’m aware of it, and I’m willing to apologize for it and try and do better.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I am writing the first draft of book three in the Indranan War series. Once that gets turned in I’m going to have a chat with my agent about what we’re up to next.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I don’t read a lot while I’m working due to the distinct lack of time and energy. My day job involves being on the computer all day, so I have to be careful of eye strain. Plus I don’t like risking reading fiction while I’m writing. I did sneak Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution back in July when it came out. And I took a break during release week to read Runtime by S.B. Divya and Tracer by Rob Boffard. There are two nonfiction books by Col. Chris Hadfield and Buzz Aldrin I really want to read and I might squeeze them in here soon. I’ve got a whole lot of books staring at me and I’m planning on spending December doing a reading marathon. There is an endless amount of books and just not enough time.
If you could recommend only one novel to someone, what would it be?
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky is hands-down one of the coolest books I’ve ever read. Our bodies can’t manufacture salt, but it’s essential for our survival. It’s been used as currency, wars have been fought over it, and revolutions won, and if we can’t find a source of it off this planet then our hope of exploring the stars will be in jeopardy.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I flew to England all by myself to meet up with a group of people I’d only known on the Internet, back in 1999. About a year later I met my husband on the internet and we married less than three years after that. Most of my friends I’ve met online, which doesn’t seem so very strange now, but at the time it caused quite a ruckus!
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Peace and quiet? *laughs* It’s been a pretty hectic year. I’m grateful for the opportunity but I’ve been going nonstop since April of 2015 and am really looking forward to having a little time to breathe and work on book three and the next project at a slightly slower pace.
K.B. Wagers‘s Behind the Throne is out now, published in the UK and North America by Orbit Books. For more on the author writing and novels, be sure to check out her website, and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.
Here’s the synopsis for Behind the Throne:
Hail Bristol has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire.
When she is dragged back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir, she finds that trading her ship for a palace is her most dangerous move yet.