“On the Far Shore” is what I’m calling this series of interviews with the authors/editors of “The Farthest Shore” an anthology of secondary world fantasy from Filipino writers. The anthology is available here. Today we speak to Dominique Cimafranca, author of “Rite of Passage.“
Tell us a bit about your story “Rite of Passage”
I would qualify “Rite of Passage” as a quiet space fantasy; quiet because there are no clashing lightsabers or firing lasers, just a man and his companions on a trek to find a new home away from their tribe. It’s not just any tribe, though, but a spacefaring one, and very much constrained by resources. The trek then takes on the form of a ritual, one that plays on the hopes and fears — the could-have’s and should-have’s — of the chosen one as he strikes out on his own.
How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?
I believe I heard about it from several sources at about the same time. I’m subscribed to Ken Yu’s blog, as well as to Charles Tan’s and Joey Nacino’s (and now to Paolo Chikiamco’s ) so it must have been one of those.
Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?
Yes, “Twilight of the Magi”, a re-imagining of the Three Wise Men as battling wizards. That came out in the PGS Christmas Special. I didn’t consciously set out to write a secondary world story then, though; it just so happened mystical Egypt was the most logical setting. Only after the story came out did people tell me it qualified as a secondary world.
How long did it take you to write the story?
Around three or four days, on and off. I can really only write in the evenings.
That’s… mighty quick. Especially given you only write evenings. Is that your usual rate of writing? How many drafts do you usually go through?
Heh. Well, it was a short story. But yeah, that’s about my pace, once I get going. I go over my work a couple of times, but I don’t usually do major rewrites: if I really don’t have a feel for the story I’m writing, I usually drop it and start over again.
What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?
Thinking about the backstory of the characters and the tribe, a detail which never really made it into the final version.
Do you think you’ll ever revisit the world of “Rite of Passage” in another story?
Probably not, as it’s a one-off tale with a theme behind it. But who knows, maybe.
What aspect did you find most difficult?
Heh. The writing itself. Because it never really quite comes out the way you want it.
Were there any particular sources of inspiration for your story?
I like to think the inspiration comes from the rite of leaving home, a necessary part of adulthood, but heightened with the fear that you can never go back.
You’ve experienced the displacement that comes from leaving one home for another correct? Did that influence or enrich the writing in any particular way?
Yes, I’ve left home several times, whether for work or for studies. I always managed to come back, though, and that’s a good thing. But I sometimes wonder what happens if you can’t go back. So those are the emotions which made their way into that story.
Are you working on any new stories or projects now?
I have a domestic scifi story that’s three-quarters written. I’ve put it away for a while because I got caught up in other things. I really should finish it.
If you could write in a secondary world created by another (literary, television etc.), which world would that be? What kind of story would you write?
The worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. There’s something terribly appealing about the 19th century optimism. But I’d like to write it away from the perspective of the white
Well those authors all have works in the public domain already if I remember correctly. Think you’ll ever give their worlds a shot?
I probably will. With cameos by Crisostomo Ibarra and Pilosopo Tasyo. Hmmm… “Liga ng Mga Hindi Pangkaraniwang Ginoo.”
I’d read that! Well, as long as Juan Tamad isn’t a member. Where else can we find your work?
I have some stories lined up with Philippine Genre Stories, and I’ve had a few published with Philippine Graphic. I also have a story in Vin Simbulan’s “A Time for Dragons.”