Monday, September 9, 2019

Story birthday! "The Simurgh's Daughter"

About two weeks ago, my short story "The Simurgh's Daughter" was published in the anthology Pioneers and Pathfinders (Amazon link); my print copy arrived today!

This story was written over Christmas break 2017-2018. I'd seen a call for stories for an anthology on Asian bird themed SFF, and was interested in exploring this theme in an atypical way. G had recently come home with a children's version of the Shahnameh from the library, and while reading it, especially stories of the simurgh, I wanted to write a story that fit within that mythos while not being a retelling of it, and I wanted to write a story for her.

She was my first beta reader and my biggest champion for the story throughout. I read it to her, and she drew pictures of parts of the story -- those pictures were taped to my kitchen cupboard for a good year, reminding me that no matter what happens, she loves my stories and believes in them.

"A fragrant pliant golden green haoma tree which blooms in summer"

"Vourukasha the world sea"

"The simurgh is a wondrous bird with copper feathers and the tail of a peacock and the face of a beautiful woman"

"She landed upon Harā Berezaitī the peak of the tallest mountain when a cry caught her ears"

"You were born upon the mountain Harā Berezaitī around which the stars and the moon resolve"

"The city of Amui upon the shores of a great sea"

I have a pretty good track record of writing stories for specific themed anthologies and failing to place them in those anthologies, but placing the stories elsewhere. I'd shopped this one around for quite awhile before I decided to ask Jessica, who edited Pioneers and Pathfinders if she'd like to read it, even if the story wasn't an exact fit for the antho brief. She loved it as much as G did. :)

I loved reading up on Persian mythology and history while writing the story, reading about Ahura Mazda, about haoma trees, about the world-sea, looking at geography to choose where exactly I would set Harā Berezaitī and which city (modern-day Amol) I would set Simbar's adventures in. I also loved research Persian food, making myself hungry along the way! (One book I stumbled across was Jan Gonda, Rice and Barley Offerings in the Veda). And finally, to the best of my knowledge, Simbar and Thriti are both plausible historical Persian feminine names; Saena is a name used for the simurgh in the Yashts, a collection of Avestan hymns.

I'm super glad to see this story in print, and look forward to reading it to G for many years to come.

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