I get the sense sometimes that people wonder why a pale white guy like myself is writing about a fantastic version of 8th century Arabia, even that they question my ability to do so, or the appropriateness of my attempt. Not because they’ve read my work, but because they’ve seen my picture, or my name.
I would like to think that we have moved past that kind of thinking, but perhaps with all the “white man fighting savages fiction” we saw in previous generations, some skepticism is appropriate. On the other hand, I’d like to think that political correctness doesn’t go so far as to assume that because I am white (and, presumably, not 1000 years old and living in Arabia) that I can’t possibly write legitimately about characters with olive skin tones. If we use the argument that we should only ever write what we know (some dogmatically think that means only personally experience, and that it can’t mean something we’ve been researching for more than a decade, say), we should all be writing contemporary fiction set in our own towns with no fantastic elements.
The simple answer to why I want to write Arabian fantasy? Because I fell in love with the Arabian Nights. I liked many of the stories so much that I read fiction set in the time period, then moved on to history and biographies and even poetry and prose from the region. And then, one day, I decided it looked like so much fun I wanted to try my hand at it myself. The characters were there and one at least was clamoring for me to get started talking about his adventures.
And so I sat down, and got to work.