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Get to know M.T. Khan

Get to know M.T. Khan

M.T. Khan (she/her) is a speculative fiction author with a penchant for all things myth, science, and philosophy. She focuses on stories that combine all three, dreaming of evocative worlds and dark possibilities. When she’s not writing, she has her nose deep in physics textbooks or glued to her CAD computer as she majors in Mechanical Engineering. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with a hyperactive cat and an ever-increasing selection of tea. Nura and the Immortal Palace is her debut novel.

Nura longs for the simple pleasure of many things. But with her mom hard at work in a run-down sweatshop and three younger siblings to feed, Nura must spend her days earning money by mica mining. Local rumor says there’s buried treasure in the mine, and Nura knows that finding it could change the course of her family’s life forever.

Her plan backfires when the mines collapse and four kids, including her best friend, Faisal, are claimed dead. Nura refuses to believe it and shovels her way through the dirt hoping to find him. Instead, she finds herself at the entrance to a strange world of purple skies and pink seas—a portal to the opulent realm of jinn, inhabited by the trickster creatures from her mother’s cautionary tales. Yet they aren’t nearly as treacherous as her mother made them out to be, because Nura is invited to a luxury jinn hotel, where she’s given everything she could ever imagine and more. 

What is the view from your writing space?
This is me filling out this questionnaire!
A view of a desk with a laptop in the foreground and a monitor behind. On the wall there are framed photos and a mirror.
What are you reading?

I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I usually reach for philosophy or philosophical novels on the regular, so it’s fulfilling that need greatly. It’s also short! Which when you’re a chronic fantasy reader, means that it’s quite a nice breather. I also recently finished Xiran Jay Zhao’s middle-grade debut, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor. Such a fun, rich, yet unapologetic story with intersectional identities not nearly represented enough.

Do you have a favorite place to read?
On a patio chair in my backyard!
A brown lounge chair in the sun.
What inspired you to write Nura and the Immortal Palace?

After learning through documentaries about mica mining and the horrors of it, I knew I wanted to write from the perspective of one of the child miners, and how she might have a warped view of childhood and the future. These are heavy themes, but I balance it with the atmosphere of a Ghibli movie—wondrous, magical, and heartwarming. Ghibli movies played a huge part in shaping my own childhood, and they wove in serious themes without ever feeling like I was being lectured. You’ll find that in Nura too—even though there’s a lot to unpack and child labor is a difficult conversation, I try to get that discussion going against the backdrop of a bewitching realm and puzzling magic.

Describe your book in three words.

Enchanting. Vivid. Inspiring.

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