Exploring mystical lands with author Shabbeer Ahmed

First-time author Shabbeer Ahmed talks about his book Djinns & Kings: The Curse of Zoa, set in the mystical city of Afra-Zun

Published - June 11, 2024 01:15 pm IST

Author Shabbeer Ahmed

Author Shabbeer Ahmed | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Sitting across debutant author Shabbeer Ahmed at one of the many coffee shops in Bengaluru, and immersed in an effortless conversation, it is easy to understand how the pages of his book follow a similar free-flowing manner.

Shabbeer, whose diverse career has taken him through the corridors of engineering, radio jockeying, game designing, and now, writing, exudes a palpable passion for storytelling. As he talks of his writing journey, one can sense his fascination for words.

“I used to read a lot as a child, and writing is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” says Shabbeer. It is from this well of literary inspiration that he draws his creative energies, weaving together aspects of Eastern mysticism and Western fantasy in his debut novel, Djinns and Kings (Om Books International).

Inspired by The Arabian Nights and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Shabbeer set out to craft his tale. “I always wanted to write something that involved travel, an amalgamation of magical elements, and I finally put pen to paper.”

Shabbeer believes fiction is a superpower that humans possess. “The ability to write fiction distinguishes us from animals around us,” he says, his face lighting up as he discusses Tolkien as well as the works of Sufi and Persian writers that find a reflection in his book.

Djinns & Kings

Djinns & Kings | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Ferdowsi is a wonderful writer and his Tale of Rostam holds special place in my heart. The Iliad, Odyssey, Ramayana and Mahabharata are brilliant mythical works that leave an imprint on you.

Djinns and Kings is populated by djinns (naturally), perilous journeys and thrilling adventures. “It is easy to write about something or someone that you already know. When you create something new, however, you don’t know where you’re going with it. So it’s both a challenge and a pleasure.”

Shabbeer has written four extra chapters in Djinns and Kings that have not been published. “It was incredible fun to write them.”

Imagining something fresh is a myth, Shabbeer says. “If you were to imagine a creature not of this earth, how would it look? You could say, it has got tentacles like an octopus, but then the octopus already exists. So, it is a result of the exposure that you’ve had.”

Djinns and Kings is set in the magical city of Afra Zun, and focuses on celebrating one’s differences. Shabbeer believes that integration and not ghettoizing of communities, will help people understand each other and allow for a harmonious coexistence.

Shabbeer’s book, is about love — love of people, land, riches and religion. “We talk about how love is great, however, we do not talk about the crimes being committed in the name of love. People go to war with another country, professing love for their own, and hatred for the other.”

A sequel to Djinns and Kings is in the works, Shabbeer says. “Every story deserves to be told, and this one is not over.” 

Shabbeer Ahmed with his book Djinns & Kings

Shabbeer Ahmed with his book Djinns & Kings | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The novel explores the notion of heroism. “Once a heroic deed is done, a hero becomes a pain. A mongoose is a hero when it fights the snake. After it has killed the snake, however, it is nothing but a rodent.”

As someone who has dabbled in various careers, Shabbeer believes it is essential for one to be multi-faceted. A qualified mechanical engineer, he was the first voice of FM Rainbow in Bengaluru and has two game design patents to his name. He believes being involved in parallel fields at the same time fosters innovation and creativity.

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