Saad Z. Hossain
Unnamed Press • 9781944700065 • unnamedpress.com
Genies appear to be the most popular characters in Arabian mythology. What do you add to the genie canon?
Genies wear pajamas and live in bottles. Djinns are devious, brutal, powerful creatures who live forever and have highly suspect political motivations. And they definitely don’t grant wishes.
The djinns in my book aren’t built exclusively from Arabian mythology. I didn’t like the idea of them being a static force. If humans have changed so much over a few thousand years, why haven’t the djinn? I hope I have made them more interesting. Do you think stories about fantasy and mythology should make a statement about reality, too? Everything we write should make a statement about reality. Fantasy is a perfect place to make statements, because you get a chance to remake the world a certain way, to talk about issues through a different lens. For example in mine, djinn purportedly caused the ice age, and now are threatening to manipulate climate change to depopulate large parts of the world. They are in fact sick of humans and wish to turn the clock back. If some other species actively, deliberately destroyed the environment, causing terrible damage, you’d say that was bad, right? Our reviewer says your book is “addictive.” What’s the secret to holding readers’ attention? Good characters have always held [mine]. A good character has to have an internal logic, so that they behave in a consistent manner, even if it goes against the story. Also you want the character to be balanced, with a bit of good and bad, like a normal person, so that they are believable. What do you hope people walk away with after reading Djinn City? I try not to be preachy. In my mind, the story takes precedence over any political message. First and foremost, I want people to enjoy a good story, to hopefully appreciate fantasy based on other cultures.