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EDITOR'S SPOTLIGHT - Mariam Khan's "Croaking Gifts"

Updated: May 6, 2021

Mariam Khan is a high school student living in Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Between the Lines program, with work recognized by The Rising Phoenix Review, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and more. When she is not breaking pencils into plots, she is baking cake. Her fiction piece "Croaking Gifts" was published by The Weight Journal in January of 2021.

Below are the thoughts of one of our editors on this piece, and an interview with Mariam Khan.


The opening really drew me in. I think it was the imaginary voice of the toad: "why yes, I am not as delectable as you might think, but the notion altogether is very flattering," which I imagined being said in some highbrow voice. That was followed by the narrator's coarse, "'Chunk it in,' I suggested, 'it'll slide down real pretty.' " The contrast between "delectable" and "chunk" grabbed my attention.

For a short story, there were a lot of layers to "Croaking Gifts." I kept thinking about the sisters' relationship and then their connection with their parents. The narrator was loved and admired by her sister yet killed her sister's kitten and made her eat a frog. (What?!?) I am a sucker for specific details and even though the frog-eating scene turned my stomach, I loved that paragraph.

I mean, good writing should elicit some sort of emotional response, right?

~ Alicia Collins, Editor


An interview with Mariam Khan

  • What inspires your writing the most?

Food. I have a terrible habit of making meals the centerpieces of stories and scenes. Maybe life is all just one enormous dinner table of disputes.

  • What does your writing and revision process look like?

Drafting on paper and crying at the spelling mistakes when it's typed up.

  • What, if anything, do you want to share with readers about the work being discussed?

I am not an advocate for cat murder.

  • What are your writing goals?

Before I sleep, I always think about publishing a novel. Then I actually succumb to slumber and dream about midnight feuds with jack-o'-lanterns.

  • What is one random fact, idea, or statement you want to share with our readers?

A voltaic cell conducts spontaneous reactions.

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