owl in flight on white background

“The Truth About Owls” by Amal El-Mohtar

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Anisa and her mother have to leave their home in Riyaq due to the dangers of warfare plaguing their country, and the little girl is torn between cultures as she arrives in her knew dwelling place. She is so different from the children in Glasgow with her dark hair and black eyes. When the other kids begin to fear her and her mother is constantly busy, Anisa must find a hobby to fill her days of isolation. Owls have always held a strange fascination for her, and she finds a friend in one of the caretakers at The Scottish Owl Center. This woman Izzy may be just what Anisa needs to break free of her brooding loner tendencies.

The Truth About Owls

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About the Author
Amal El-Mohtar is a multiple award winning author, editor and critic. The Honey Month (Papaveria Press, 2009) collects poems and very short stories written to the taste of 28 different kinds of honey, and includes Rhysling Award winner “Peach-Creamed Honey” (2010). Her poem “Phase Shifting” won the Richard Jefferies Prize (2012), and her poems “Lost” (Strange Horizons, 2014), “Turning the Leaves” (Apex, 2014), and “The New Ways” (Uncanny, 2015) have been finalists for the Aurora Award. Her short stories “The Green Book” (included in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011, Horton, ed.) and “Madeleine” were finalists for the 2011 and 2016 Nebula Awards respectively, and “The Truth About Owls” won the Locus Award in 2015. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Uncanny, Strange Horizons, and Lightspeed, as well as in numerous anthologies and Year’s Best collections including The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (2011, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, eds.), The Mammoth Book of Steampunk (2012, Sean Wallace, ed.), Glitter and Mayhem (2013, John Klima, Lynne and Michael Damian Thomas, eds.) Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (2014, Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, eds.), Women Destroy Science Fiction (2014, Christie Yant, ed.), Queers Destroy Science Fiction (2015, Seanan McGuire, ed.), Bestiary (2016, Ann VanderMeer, ed), and The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (2016, Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, eds.). She has also written a guest episode for Serial Box’ Bookburners. Her criticism and reviews have appeared on NPR Books, in the LA Times, and in The Outpost, and she has regular columns in Lightspeed and on Tor.com. She has written multiple essays on Doctor Who, in Chicks Unravel Time (2012, Deborah Stanish and L. M. Myles, eds.), Queers Dig Time Lords (2013, Sigrid Ellis and Michael D. Thomas, eds.), Science Fiction Film and Television (2014), and Companion Piece (2015, L. M. Myles, ed.). Amal also plays the harp, and is a founding member of the Banjo Apocalypse Crinoline Troubadours performance collective (bactroubadours.com); Editor-in-Chief of Goblin Fruit (goblinfruit.net), an online quarterly dedicated to fantastical poetry; and a member of Down and Safe: A Blake’s 7 Podcast with Scott Lynch, Michael D. Thomas and L. M. Myles. She divides her time and heart between Ottawa and Glasgow, but you can always find her online at amalelmohtar.com and on Twitter @tithenai.
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