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Rahul Kanakia, Charles Village
• Describe your latest book I'm primarily a short story writer, however my work is forthcoming in "Diverse Energies," which is an anthology of dystopian young adult stories that is coming out in October 2012 from Tu Books. The anthology also includes stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Paolo Bacigalupi and Malinda Lo.
• Why write? What makes writing a book worthwhile? When I was in grade school, authority figures praised my writing. That made me think that writing would be a good way to win the favor of other authorities: handsome strangers, intelligent people on the internet, my professors and anyone else who wasn't yet sufficiently impressed with me. As I got better at it, writing also became more fun. Now it's the most fun thing in my life and also the thing that I am best at. And I've impressed a few more people, but I suppose it hasn't been as many people as I'd hoped for.
• How has growing up and/or living in the Baltimore area influenced your writing? I'm actually a recent transplant to the Baltimore area. I moved here two months ago to attend the Masters of the Fine Arts program at Johns Hopkins University. I look forward to seeing this city -- with its incredible sense of history and its ethnic diversity -- come out in my writing. I actually grew up in College Park, Md., and in Washington, D.C. I think the impact of living in these places, where wealth is settled right amidst working class poverty, has been to make me more aware of economic diversity: the ways in which wealth and social class influence our paths in life.
• Is the written word in trouble? Are authors an endangered breed? Moving pictures and recorded sound are powerful mediums, but they contain too much noise: they don't convey information as clearly as the written word does. Until we invent an information-retrieval method that is clearer and faster than reading, I think the written word will be fine. In fact, with the economic prosperity and rise of literacy in Asia, there are probably more people reading more books than at any other time in human history. However, I do expect that e-book piracy is eventually going to severely decrease the profits of the publishing industry (and those of authors like myself), just as it has done for the recording industry. In the future, there will be many fewer paid authors than there are today and they will be paid less than they are now. However, this is not necessarily a reason for readers to despair. Great art will still be produced. Although musicians make much less money today than they did 30 or 40 years ago, more good music is still produced in a single year than you or I could listen to in ten lifetimes.
• What's your next project? I'm currently shopping a gay-themed YA novel -- set in a dystopian Washington, D.C. -- to agents. I'm also currently revising an adult science fiction novel in which the discovery of alternate Earths sets off a tremendous economic boom that splits a community and a marriage.
September 24, 2012