Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad: Character-Based Stories

Science-fiction authors Ehsan and Shakil Ahmad explain how they came to write their debut novel Wild Sun: Unbound and how to become comfortable with rejection.
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Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad are the authors of Wild Sun: Unbound (February 16, 2021; Uproar Books) and Wild Sun (2020; Uproar Books). They grew up in New York City as the first-generation American children of immigrants from Pakistan. Ehsan spent his early twenties traveling across four continents to meet the people of countless cultures, while Shakil earned degrees in psychology and social research. In their late twenties, the brothers reunited in Pennsylvania to start a wedding film company. Ehsan also spent those years writing lyrics and playing bass for an alt-rock band, recording three studio albums. In their thirties, they sold the film company and returned to the city of their birth to work for separate tech startups and collaborate together continuously on screenplays and novels. You can visit them at thewildsun.com.

Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad

Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad

In this post, Ehsan and Shakil Ahmad explain how they came to write their debut novel Wild Sun: Unbound, how to become comfortable with rejection, and more!

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Name: Ehsan & Shakil Ahmad
Title: Wild Sun: Unbound
Publisher: Uproar Books
Expected release date: February 16, 2021
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
Elevator pitch for the book: No longer bound to a life of forced labor in the enemy’s mines, Cerrin leads a small band of escaped slaves in search of a new home in the ancient forest where she was born. But freedom is not the same as victory. And death is never far behind.

Wild Sun: Unbound

Wild Sun: Unbound by Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad

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What prompted you to write this book?

While delving into the backstory of a screenplay character we had in mind, an interesting concept slowly began evolving during our creative sessions. That concept eventually formed the Wild Sun universe. It also completely derailed the screenplay. For now.

There are a multitude of factors that brought this story to life, but a prominent one has always been an appreciation for character-driven dramas through film. We wanted to take part in that world somehow and while a novel wasn’t our first medium of choice, it became the most apt for the sort of world, or universe, building we had gotten into.

(How to Write a Science Fiction Novel)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

It was about a five-year process in total. The idea was sparked through another project’s character exposition, and once we officially pivoted into Wild Sun, that was about three years of writing. We are first-time authors, so the earlier phases were incredibly rough. Too abstract. We had no concept for servicing plot, more focused on ideas than story. Once the manuscript was completed, it took the remaining two years to find Rick Lewis and his team at Uproar. They truly got behind our multi-perspective story and the larger themes in the Wild Sun series. It has been an awesome pairing, to say the least.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

We expected a good deal of rejection as first-timers, but honestly, you never really get comfortable with it. We were surprised by the amount of granular feedback we received from Rick. He really got into the story and we appreciated that most about his approach. Very hands-on. We did not always see eye to eye on certain edits or suggestions, but we definitely incorporated more than a few. It is one of the cooler aspects of working with an independent publisher like Uproar.

(How to Publish Your Science Fiction Novel)

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Surprises, interestingly, occurred in the “pre-production” phase of the writing process. Creating meaningful arcs for the respective characters and then stepping back to weave them into one another was fun, but also technical at the same time. It was most surprising that it all started somewhat asymmetrically. The idea came to light on its own terms and we just followed.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

We tackle some larger themes like imperialism, oppression, and resource-driven societies that feel perpetually prescient. On the other hand, our intention was to take a few characters and feel them navigate all of this in an intimate and real way.

Ehsan Ahmad and Shakil Ahmad: Character-Based Stories

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Trust yourself and those ideas. Sometimes you may feel as though you are treading familiar ground with the story, but a single story can be told from many perspectives. Your thoughts are inherently unique. Less romantically, schedule writing like work. Once you get ideas on the page you can sculpt them to your taste.

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