Amal El-Mohtar is a Canadian-born child of the Mediterranean, currently pursuing a PhD at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter. She is the author of The Honey Month, a collection of poetry and prose written to the taste of 28 different honeys, and co-editor of Goblin Fruit, an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry, along with Jessica P. Wick. Her work has appeared in several venues online and in print, including Apex, Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Shimmer, and Cabinet des Fées, and is forthcoming in Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Ellen Kushner and Holly Black, and The Thackeray T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. A complete bibliography is available at her Writertopia page. She also keeps a blog somewhat tidy at Voices on the Midnight Air.
On November 20th, 2010, at 1:46 PM, I received an e-mail from C.S.E. Cooney titled, “I got walls to build, I got riots to quell, and they’re giving me Hell back in Hades.”
If you know Claire at all, you’ll understand why I received this intelligence with equanimity. Of course she does; of course they are. Poor fools. They’ll soon learn better, and be begging our Claire for one cool disdainful look cast from beneath her mighty lashes.
If you don’t know Claire at all, I highly recommend the acquaintance.
I confess, however, to being somewhat surprised by the body of the message, which went as follows:
You don’t even KNOW!
Unless you did — and you didn’t TELL ME!
Hadestown — a folk rock opera with GREG BROWN!
Why? Why not until THIS MORNING???
Francesca Forrest sent me this. Now I must own the rest.
Hi! My name’s Amal! We’ve never met. Well, unless we have. But most likely we haven’t, because I’ve never blogged here before, even though Ms. Claire Rides-the-Lightning Cooney has mentioned me in my capacity as one of the Editors of Goblin Fruit in her ever-so-mighty three-part article extravaganza about mine humble ‘zine.
Anyway, towards summer’s end, Claire Too-Sexy-For-Trousers Cooney told me about a conversation our very own scurrilous blarneyful dear John O’Neill had with some friends, in which they were trying to think of Muslim SF writers, and coming up blank. Then someone thought of me! My vanity, it was flattered!
Except, I am not Muslim.
I am, however, a first-generation Lebanese-Canadian, and that may as well be the same thing.
Over the last nine years, I’ve had occasion to be startled, and then to cease to be startled, by the extent to which my Middle-Eastern-ness gets conflated with Muslim-ness as a matter of course, as well as the extent to which people feel entitled to learning my religion along with my name. This is not the space in which I want to think about why precisely that is – I have a blog too, after all – but it is the space which Ms. Awesomesauce Cooney offered me to talk about the ways in which we might see the Middle-East positively represented in fantasy, as well as showcase a writer of fantasy literature who does in fact happen to be Muslim.