With the launch of Estranghero Press’ new horror anthology, Demons of the New Year, we cornered EP founder and anthology co-editor Joseph Nacino for a short interview. Here are Joseph’s thoughts on the second anthology, the existence of demons, and the state of the horror genre in the Philippines.
Congratulations on the new anthology! Were there any lessons you learned from The Farthest Shore that you applied here?
Thanks Pao. I suppose if there’s a primary lesson I learned from the first anthology, it’s that it’s possible. That if there is something you want done, you have to do it yourself. I’ve always heard Filipino writers (myself included) lamenting the lack of local writing markets. So actually having completed The Farthest Shore convinced me that I could actually do this.
This is also your second time collaborating on editing duties (Estranghero Press’ fantasy anthology, The Farthest Shore, was co-edited by Dean Alfar). Why go down that route, rather than monopolizing the editorial reins?
Well, don’t you get bored at times of hearing only yourself in your head? (Of course if you start hearing someone else, I suggest you go see a shrink.) I figured it would be great to have different editorial perspectives of what the Story is, what it means. So rather than limiting it to my perspective, I thought it would be great to share the fun with other writers and making them guest-editors.
Do you and Karl share the same taste in stories?
Well, we have different tastes– I think he goes for the more edgier stuff while I dig the weird shit– but both of us have the same reverence and joy of horror stories. I’m primarily a fantasy reader/writer but horror is a close second favorite in my clockwork world.
How did you settle on the theme of demons/horror for the anthology?
I threw a number of topics to Karl and he picked one and threw it back to me. From there, it was just a matter of selecting the right title. (And really, once you have the right title, everything else is easy.)
Are any of the writers included in the anthology new to you?
One thing I like with this whole gig is that I get to read– and introduce– new writers to the world. There are some writers here and in The Farthest Shore that I’ve heard about but never worked with (or read) before. And there are some writers that are new to me, i.e. it’s the first time I’ve seen their names, and they have stories that expand what Philippine Speculative Fiction is.
What do you think of the state of the horror genre here in the Philippines? Not just in fiction necessarily, but even in film, the state of the fandom/s, etc.
I do think that among the genres, horror is the one most alive and well in the Philippines. All you have to do is look at the moviehouses during the year-end film festivals with Shake, Rattle and Roll series, movies like Sigaw, Feng Sui and Sukob. TV as well with Wag Kukurap, E.S.P. and Nginiig. Print you have writers like Yvette Tan, Karl de Mesa, and David Hontiveros– as well as the Psicom horror series. Obviously, some people would disagree on the quality of the horror genre locally but still– unlike science fiction– it’s there. You might say this stems from the Filipinos’ need to scare themselves silly when relating ghost stories during the wee hours of the night. Or it could be due to our inherited memories of a time when there were no bright lights and big cities, when it was always dark once 6 p.m. rolled around, and we had to shutter ourselves in our bahay kubos at night.
Are you a believer, insofar as the darker side of the supernatural/paranormal spectrum is concerned? (From the introduction, Karl seems to be.) Does that affect your writing at all?
Do I believe in ghosts? Yes, though I’ve not actually seen one. As with most people, I have seen some things from the corner of my eye. Do I believe in demons and monsters? Well, I keep an open mind– it’s easier to run away when you’re not asking stupid questions in the face of “the jaws that bite, the claws that catch”!
What’s next for Estranghero Press?
Well, given that I’ve already done one per genre leg of fantasy and horror, there’s only one left– science fiction! Now to look for a guest-editor!