On the Far Shore: An Interview with Kate Aton-Osias

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 8 - 2009

“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 with Kate Aton-Osias, author of “Light.”

Could you tell us a bit about your story “Light”?

The story is essentially about unrequited love and knowing your place in the world (although both I had hoped to present in a different way). It started as a writing challenge to write in ‘traditional’ fantasy (that is to say to use tradfan tropes) without it being too ‘traditional’ or common.

How did you hear about the Farthest Shore anthology?

From Dean Alfar’s blog.

Prior to that, had you ever written a secondary world story before?

Nope (unless you count futuristic fiction which, I would argue is a secondary world, but I know I’m severely outvoted in the literary world).

Ah, but dissent enriches discussion, so fire away! How would you describe a secondary world story?

A world that is not known by people living in the present. Which is why I don’t count alternate histories (unless it is sufficiently removed from actual history) as second world. If it’s futuristic fiction, how could anyone ‘know’ it? I understand though, that certain kinds of futuristic fiction – especially the ones that only project less than a generation ahead – is too close to the present to be considered secondary world. But fiction that deals with things that common people right now find fantastic – robots (even if they already exist), androids, a clean Philippines (haha) – I think that could count as secondary world.

How long did it take you to write the story?

A little under a month.

What aspect of the writing did you enjoy the most?

Reading the first draft. :)

Really? Hm. Your first drafts must be much nicer than mine are. How many drafts do you usually go through before you submit a story? Do you have anyone else read them first?

Not really. Actually, they’re quite horrid. But the first draft is my first taste of completion. After that, I can edit and polish (and edit, and polish), but I already have something. Anything before the first draft is incomplete, and potentially, will never be complete. The first draft makes the story ‘real’. As for number of drafts – I would prefer to go through a zillion drafts, but I’ve realized lately that my stories receive better comments when I stop at 3. Generally speaking, my husband reads the draft to check for any obvious grammatical mistakes, and then I’m on my own.

What aspect did you find most difficult?

Trying to incorporate traditional fantasy tropes.

Were there any particular sources of inspiration for your story?

Dungeons and Dragons source book! (the spells, the spells)

Are you working on any new stories or projects now?

Yep, for the LitCritter deadline in October as well as (hopefully) SpecFic. [Ed. Note: Philippine Speculative Fiction V]

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?

Hmmm… this one’s tough. My first answer is unfair since I would like to write for a fantasy setting that a close friend of mine had built for the solitary purpose of a role playing game (which I’m actively playing right now). For a more accessible reference, I think I would like to write a story for the Fading Suns RPG.

Have your experiences during gaming, say the settings, adventures or the characters, spill over or influence your writing?

Most definitely. I learned a lot about characters, and dialogue, through gaming (it doesn’t hurt that our GM is an award winning playwright and fictionist). I try not to write it down directly, though, because I prefer to write something out of my own imagination – or at least, my own interpretation of it (which goes beyond simply using the same characters and exactly the same setting with a different plot) – rather than play in someone else’s sandbox. That is not to say I’m against fanfiction, but its just a personal choice to challenge myself to do something different.

Where else can we find your work?

Bewildering Stories, Magical Realism Online, A Time for Dragons, Spec Fic 2 and 4.

Thanks for agreeing to do this interview Kate!

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.