Today I am interviewing Khan Wong, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Circus Infinite!
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*This interview was originally posted on MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape on March 22, 2022
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DJ: Hi Khan! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Khan Wong: Thanks for having me! I’ve been a creative person my whole life, and over the years I’ve published poetry, played the cello and ukulele, been a firedancer and hula hooper. I worked in the nonprofit arts for a long time.
DJ: What is The Circus Infinite about?
Khan: The elevator pitch is: it’s about a circus that takes down a crimeboss on the galaxy’s infamous pleasure moon. The longer more nuanced answer is, it’s about chosen family, community, the acceptance of people different from us, and art. With a dash of superpowers and lots of aliens and partying.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Circus Infinite?
Khan: The Wayfarers books by Becky Chambers and that slice-of-life approach to space opera was a big influence on this project. The Sol Majestic by Ferrett Steinmetz was also instructive for me. And my experiences in the realm of circus arts.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Khan: The main character, Jes, is an asexual empath with gravity powers. The gravity powers drive the plot, but his sexuality and empathic ability drive the character and how he relates to the world – particularly an overtly sexual world such as a pleasure moon. He’s essentially a gentle person who hasn’t experienced much kindness in his life, and struggles with some of the things he feels he has to do in the course of the story. His BFF is Esmée, who is an aspiring singer who learns to assert her identity against the cultural expectations of her people. Jes’s romantic interest is Bo, an acrobat in the circus who is fiercely loyal and protective, and devoted to his art and community. The main antagonist is Niko, the local crimeboss who has his hooks in the circus, who presents himself as being cultured and debonair, but is capable of great cruelty and violence.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Khan: The identical triplet acrobats that become part of Jes’s circle. I loved writing their rehearsals and performances, and their personalities of sassy, sweet and spicy. Portraying their bond as sisters and as performance partners was really fun.
DJ: What is the world and setting of The Circus Infinite like?
Khan: It’s set in a “federation” called the 9-Star Congress of Conscious Worlds. It’s an alliance of sentient planets organized by a sentient star – this book doesn’t go too much into detail about that aspect of the world. It is largely peaceful, with pockets where unsavory characters get up to nefarious shenanigans – as witnessed in this book. It is occupied by six different species, including humans.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing The Circus Infinite?
Khan: The slice of life aspect for sure. The scenes of Jes and his friends hanging out and partying, and also the glimpses of the creative process involved in putting together a circus show.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Khan: Well, I hope they’ll be talking about how they want to see more of this universe! Ha ha!
But seriously – I hope that they’re moved by the friendships and community element. They may talk about how much they hate Niko.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began writing The Circus Infinite? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Khan: I knew I wanted to write a space fantasy that was about the bohemian underbelly of a spacefaring civilization – the lives of the artists and hedonistic weirdos in such a society. That was the spark that got me writing. I did not have a particular theme in mind although I knew the world was going to be generally inclusive, even if there are prejudices that pop up. The themes that emerged in the writing are the importance of community, how chosen family can sometimes consist of stronger bonds than blood relations, the urge for personal autonomy and self-determination, and the power of art to bridge cultural differences. What I hope people get from it is an understanding of our common humanity no matter the differences in our circumstances or identity.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from The Circus Infinite that you can share with us?
Khan: Can I curse? The quote is “It’s who we are. Fuck ‘em if they don’t like it.” I think that about sums it up!
DJ: Now that The Circus Infinite is released, what is next for you?
Khan: There are a few possibilities that have presented themselves, but nothing definite and no contracts signed yet, so I’m not sure I can say. I hope to publish more stories set in this universe, but a lot will depend on how this book does. I’ve already delivered the next book to my agent and I have a number of stand-alone ideas I’m itching to get working on. This is my first rodeo so I’m being mindful and relishing the experience of becoming a published author and finally getting to this place, but I don’t want to get too distracted from the foundation of it all, and that’s the writing. So short answer: more writing. More worlds to explore.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Khan-Wong/e/B09CG7F9Q8
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***The Circus Infinite is released by Angry Robot Books and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon. Here, everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job. When the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him, or face vivisection.
With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down together. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.
About the Author:
In past chapters of life, Khan has published poetry and played cello in an earnest folk-rock duo. As an internationally known hula hoop teacher and performer, he’s toured with a circus, taught workshops all over the world, and produced circus arts shows in San Francisco. He’s worked in the nonprofit arts for many years, most recently as an arts funder for a public sector grantmaking agency.