S.F. Said - The epic story of Phoenix

Published on: 28 August 2017 Author: S.F. Said

Phoenix is an epic story about a human boy who has the power of a star, and an alien girl who is the most brilliant warrior in the galaxy. Together, they have to find a way to save the galaxy from the war that's destroying it: the war between humans and aliens.

It took me seven years to write this book, but really, it's been growing inside me for my whole life. I remember seeing the very first Star Wars film when it was released in 1977. It was a life-changing moment. As I looked up in awe at that first starship filling the screen, I remember thinking that I wanted to write a story as big as that one day. I wanted to write a book that contained an entire galaxy.


I had another life-changing moment around the same time. I grew up in London, a city where there's so much artificial light at night that we never really see the stars. But I remember camping in the desert of Jordan with my dad when I was 12. The night sky there was so dark and clear, I could see millions and millions of stars, blazing all night long. I was filled with wonder – and with questions. How many other worlds might there be among those distant stars? How many other forms of life might be looking back at me? What would happen if humans and aliens ever met?

Questions like that have stayed with me, my whole life long. And the more we've learned about the science of the universe, the more amazing it seems. I wanted to get all that into a book, so Phoenix is a book full of stars; it really does contain a whole galaxy.

But as well as the science of stars, I'm interested in their mythic dimension. They pose the biggest questions imaginable, making us consider our place in the universe, and what it means to be alive in it. We now know that the atoms in our bodies were created in the hearts of exploding stars: something that feels closer to ancient myth than astrophysics. That's one reason why Phoenix contains as much ancient mythology as cutting-edge science, and why I think it's as much 'mythic fiction' as 'science fiction'.


I don't think it's a book for any particular age, or any particular kind of person. I want to write books that anyone can read and love. Books full of page-turning action, adventure and mystery; but also comedy, tragedy, and big ideas about life and what it means. I want my books to contain characters and worlds you will never forget – and I want them to be full of beautiful writing and amazing illustrations.

I put everything I know and everything I love into Phoenix, because I believe the books we read when we're young are the most important ones of all. They shape the way we see the world, and they stay with us forever. Maybe that's why it takes me so long to write each book! As I say, Phoenix took seven years, and possibly a lifetime. It was worth it though, because in the end, it's a book I really want to read myself.

But if you want to know more about Phoenix, the best thing you can do is watch the book trailer my illustrator Dave McKean created for it. This trailer will show you the opening of the story, with Dave's incredible illustrations animated and brought to life. I hope you enjoy watching it – and then reading Phoenix.


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

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