Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams




Author Spotlight: Tahmeed Shafiq

Your story draws on many mythological creatures and references quite a few stories. If you had to pick one mythological creature and one story, what would it be and why?

Well, when I decided I wanted to do a story centering around a phoenix, I started to patch a lot of different phoenix myths together. But my favourite is the most common one. The medieval phoenix, resembling a predatory bird, that dies and is reborn again from its ashes. I guess I’ve Harry Potter to thank for that.

I am intrigued by the orphaned prince, who spends much of the story unconscious. What do you think becomes of him when he grows up/wakes up to his situation?

He’s just a kid, really. No more than seven or eight. So it would probably be very strange and confusing for him, and no doubt a bit frightening. When he grows up, he will probably try and take up his father’s mantle, but I’ve never really given it much thought. I didn’t him give much focus, I’m afraid.

The Djinn says at the end, “We have much work to do.” Do you envisage this short story as the beginning of a series? Or is this a more mythic walk off into the sunset?

If it were the beginning of a series, it would be the start of the djinn trying to pick up the pieces of the realm, maybe get the prince on the throne when the time was right. But for the most part, it’s a brand new dawn and a brand new world. A new beginning for both of them. So I could continue, but I’m not planning on it. I’d like to leave this cycle open-ended.

I love the idea of the desert having the capacity to kill the sun. Was that something you’d always planned or did it come to you as you were writing?

That was actually one of the first ideas I had regarding the story. I had a big, badass phoenix to kill and I needed a really cool way to do just that. If felt very fitting, having the desert smother the sun.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working a bundle of shorts, of which this story is the first. I like that. Both a beginning for me as an aspiring writer and for the stories I want to tell. And there’s more to this dawn than meets the eye, I guarantee you that. Who knows? If I like the way those shorts come out, you may just see me back here in Lightspeed.

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Liz Argall

Liz Argall (photo credit Right Stage Photography)

Liz Argall’s short stories can be found in places like Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death. She creates the webcomic Things Without Arms and Without Legs and writes love songs to inanimate objects. Her previous incarnations include circus manager, refuge worker, artists’ model, research officer for the Order of Australia Awards, farm girl, and extensive work in the not–for–profit sector.