Today I welcome an old friend of mine, Noor Jahangir, to share a little about his novel, The Changeling King, which was recently released. Welcome, Noor, and thank you for stopping by.
Give us a little background with regard to The Changeling King. What's the story about?
The story follows the intersecting adventures of six teenagers, spanning both time and space. The book starts with Vasch and his war-band of trolls arriving on Earth through a magical gateway. Vasch’s primary mission is to kill a boy called Adam Phelps, because of who the boy will become one day. The gateway was opened on the Earth side by a demon, but the backwash of the energy unleashed travels along the lay-lines and opens a second gateway about twenty miles away. The second gateway is buried beneath the mud at the bottom of a lake. Nathan Celic, his brother Logan and their girlfriends, Salina Phelps and Katrina Standbridge, are out swimming in the lake and get sucked through. They wake up to find themselves prisoners of an alien race called the Alvor, on a world called Eridani.
Salina’s kid brother, Adam, witnesses the whole event from the lakeshore. Karen Rainbow, the detective investigating the case doesn’t believe Adam’s version of events, but when a series of gruesome killings begin, she knows there is a connection between the kids disappearing and the murders. She takes Adam into protective custody and flees across the moors with Vasch and his warband in pursuit.
The sixth teenager is Sultan, a Mughal prince born several hundred years before Adam and the others. He has been trained in statecraft, martial arts and Sufi mysticism. His father’s small kingdom is caught between the machinations of the East India Company and the Mughal Emperor, Akbar. Sultan witnesses his father’s assassination and flees into the jungle. With the hunters closing in on him, he desperately turns to his mystic skills and accidentally transports himself across the cosmos and through time to Eridani; only to be captured by a troll.
Bringing all these story arcs together is the Trollking, a changeling child born amongst the alvor and abandoned in accordance with their traditions. The child is raised by trolls and quickly rises to dominate them, before betrayal sees him return to his place of birth in chains. The changeling discovers his heritage and escapes the city with the aid of a goblin shaman, only to return years later at the head of a horde of trolls and goblins. Now the changeling has reined over Northern Kryllon for a century. His demon allies have warned him that his death will come at the hands of a human child from Earth. So the Trollking sends his most trusted warrior, Vasch, to eliminate the threat. Tortured to the point of madness, Sultan languishes in the Trollking’s prison. And the only gateway back to Earth is the Trollking’s throne room.
Who are some of your literary influences and what aspects of their writing speak to you?
I think the earliest literary influence, indeed the one that first made me aspire to write was CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe, which obviously comes through in the whole crossover thing. But I doubt anyone can write in the fantasy genre without also being influenced by JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I like to think that I’ve read quiet widely in the fantasy genre and when I wrote the original draft of The Changeling King I was reading David Gemmell, Raymond E Fiest and David Eddings.
David Gemmell’s characterisation, his ability to make men with the quality of legend in them come across as flawed humans is something I wanted to emulate. I hope I’ve succeeded in making my characters think, speak and behave in a manner that real people in similar situations would, rather than a bunch of cardboard cut-outs or caricatures of real people. I also love Neil Gaiman’s and Orson Scott Card’s work. Reading their writing is like eating high quality chocolate truffles. I’ve also enjoyed reading George RR Martin, James Barclay, Brent Weeks , Scott Lynch and a few months ago began the Robert Jordan marathon, The Wheel of Time. Non-fantasy influences include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which continues to influence me and Sidney Sheldon’s sharp sentences and break-neck pacing.
Who is your all-time favourite fantasy character and why does he/she appeal to you?
I’ve got a few favourites, but it’s a throw up between Aragorn from LOTR and Tenaka Khan from David Gemmell’s The King Beyond the Gate. Both of them are lethal with a sword in their hands, but have an inherent nobility and strength of character. Both are also quite tragic figures. The former because he is the heir to a lost legacy and in love with a woman doomed to outlive him, and the latter, because he is caught between two cultures and is forced to choose one over the other. Other favourite characters include Lady Mara of the Acoma from Raymond Feist’s and Janny Wurt’s Empire books, Durzo Blint from Brent Week’s Nightangel trilogy and David Gemmell’s Druss the Legend.
What are some of themes prevalent in The Changeling King?
There are two major themes laced through the whole book. The first is the familiar seen as the other, by viewing our world through Vasch’s eyes, and the other made familiar, through Nathan and the others adjusting to Eridani. The second theme is the longing for home. I wrote the first draft whilst I was at an Islamic boarding school, constantly homesick, and since the age of 11 have never really returned to live at my parent’s home again. I guess that’s why all my characters are homesick too. Vasch wants to go back to Eridani; Sultan wants to go back to Azamabad; Nathan, Logan, Salina and Katrina want to go back to Earth; Adam wants to go back to his mum; and even the Trollking has made his city of birth his capital. There are other themes too, like the absent father and mysticism, that readers will have to figure out for themselves.
Which character in The Changeling King is closest to your heart, and why?
Argh! That’s like asking me which of my kids I love the most! I like most of them, but if I have to choose . . . When I started writing The Changeling King originally, it was Nathan, because he most embodied me at that age. But now, it’s a throw-up between Vasch, because despite being a bit of a monster, he’s a good guy trying to make sense of the world, and Sultan, because he has a sense of duty that forces him to do the right thing, even if he wants to do the opposite.
Essentially, they both have a lot to learn about life and hopefully, over the next few books in the Trollking Saga, they will work it out enough to be happy with who they are.
How did you pull together the ideas for the novel? Was it a gradual realisation for the story or a sudden burst of creative inspiration that *this* was the story you were going to tell?
It started with one idea, with Nathan, Logan, Salina and Katrina playing a game that malfunctions and sends them to Eridani (Tron anyone?). Luckily, several rewrites of the book have created a more unique event to get them to the other world. The rest of the story came through unplanned and unstructured, like a fever that I had to get out of my head by writing my fingers raw. But then a decade of re-imagining and learning my craft has refined and built the story up to what it is today.
Some of the story arcs and characters, e.g. Karen, Sultan and Vasch, were born in the later rewrites. Even the Trollking’s back-story was a late edition. As for whether this was the book I ‘had’ to write, well, my brother’s recently commented that now that I had that gorilla off my back, I could start writing something decent.
Now that The Changeling King is complete and available, do you have anything else in the pipelines? And can you share a little about the story?
I have a few projects running simultaneously, including a non-fantasy YA series and a grown-up fantasy novel. But the most relevant one I suppose is the sequel to The Changeling King, currently titled The Renegade Prince. It’s difficult to say much without ruining the ending of The Changeling King. What I can say is that whilst the original was based predominately on Kryllon, the second book will explore the world of Eridani a lot more. There will be two strong female point-of-view characters and the Earth-side story will also continue. A host of new characters will be joining the cast and the main villain will be the son of the Trollking.
Where can people buy your books or follow your updates?
The Changeling King is available to purchase from the Kindle store and from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66828. The book is currently available at a discounted rate through the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale. You can also download two other short ebooks for free; Trial by Fire and The Dvargar of Amundborg. You can ‘Like’ me on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Noor-A-Jahangir, my author’s page on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4951592.Noor_A_Jahangir, follow me on Twitter @noorjahangir, or follow my blog at http://noorajahangir.wordpress.com and visit my website http://www.trollking.co.uk.