Aparna Verma’s debut novel The Phoenix King (Orbit, 2023) takes place in the desert kingdom of Ravence as war brews on its borders and the king is set to step down. The story follows an assassin exiled but struggling to return home as well as both the king and the heir to the throne.
In this interview, Verma describes the way her love of the desert shaped Ravence and how the duality of fire shaped its culture. She discusses Indian influences in science fiction, the many ways people are connected to faith, and the ways her work reimagines monarchy.
The Phoenix King is so clearly a labor of love and it was so much fun to discuss with the author.
A. E. Lanier is a short fiction writer and educator living in Central Texas. More about her work can be found at aelanier.com.