Today is my first stop on the Book of Apex Blog Tour, coordinated by Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer. The Book of Apex is a collection of short works of speculative fiction by various talented authors. I have the pleasure of having Thoraiya Dyer, author of “The Second Card of the Major Arcana” on my blog for an interview.
The Second Card of the Major Arcana is about a Sphinx and blends together elements of fantasy and science fiction. What was your inspiration for the story? What do you want readers to take away from it?
The inspiration for my story was the Temple of Eshmun, near Sidon in Lebanon, which is about 2700 years old.
Eshmun was a god of healing, so if you wanted your sick baby to get well, you commissioned a marble sculpture of your baby and took it to the temple. When archaeologists excavated it, it was all full of freaky baby statues. There are sphinxes on the throne of Astarte there. She was the local goddess of fertility, sexuality and war, and if you wanted her help, too, you had to throw flowers into the Awali river, which runs right past the temple.
Sidon has a hospital these days, so that is win, haha.
Readers should take away what they want from my stories. In this case, maybe they’ll think about the weight of history or the futility of democracy without universal education. Or maybe they’ll just put socks on their hands, pretend they have lion paws, and see how hard it is to put on a seatbelt.
What made you decide to write speculative fiction?
All kids think, write and dream speculative fiction, don’t they? I guess it didn’t go away because my mother’s excellent SFF bookshelf made me realise grown-ups were allowed to do it, too.
What projects are you working on now?
The projects I am working on now include polishing a historical short story about Ranavalona I for a Fablecroft anthology called Cranky Ladies of History, doing edits for an SF Lebanese sniper story called ‘One Million Lira,’ a story I am hugely proud of, that will appear in War Stories, and chugging along on the first draft of a fantasy novel that will be a magical version of a corrupt Babylon built in a rainforest canopy.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Tough decision! When I was 7, I would have done anything to meet the potkoorok, an Australian water-spirit from “The Nargun and the Stars” by Patricia Wrightson. When we went into the bush I would squat hopefully by billabongs and wait. The nargun was taken from the mythology of the Gunaikurnai people from Gippsland in Victoria, but I’m not sure about the potkoorok.
When I was 17, I would have said Martin Longbow from Feist’s “Magician” – so we could be married, do archery and live on the border of an elf-forest, of course.
Now, I think it would be the Aelfinn from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. The Aelfinn give true answers to three questions while the Eelfinn grant three wishes. I’ve read enough to be wary of wishes, but true answers…how I hunger for those
How did you get into archery? Has it impacted or inspired your writing in any way?
I had a few early, abortive attempts at archery. As a teen, I was desperate to take up kyudo, Japanese Zen archery, but there were no schools within 1000km at the time; in my first year of vet school, I joined the Sydney University archery club only to find that they shot in the afternoons when I had actual important lectures to go to. Eventually, five years after that, I joined Newcastle City Archers, and found not only great joy in practicing it, but found my husband as well. I haven’t written a serious and technical archery story yet, but it’s totally on the cards.