Archive for June, 2010

Horror is Transgression: An Interview with Karl De Mesa

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 21 - 2010


I did a quick-and-dirty interview with Joseph Nacino when Demons of the New Year first launched, and now I have an in-depth interview with his co-editor, horror scribe Karl De Mesa, up at Pinoy Pop–not just about Demons of the New Year, but his life and his newly released book “News of the Shaman”, published by Visprint. You can see the first part here, and the second part here. An excerpt:

Did they know from the start that you were a writer, and that you tend to write about people around you?

Yes, although maybe some of them would be surprised to see themselves in my fiction. But a lot of my friends aren’t really big fiction readers. My family doesn’t read my fiction for the most part. I’d tell them about a launch and they’d say “okay” but not show up, which is a good thing in general, because some things I’ve written, especially my non-fiction essays about growing up in the Philippine left, might make them angry.

Is it a different experience, writing about these experiences without even the venner of fiction?

Very. People have asked me why I don’t just become an overtly political writer. The truth is, hindi ako natutuwa sa ganoon eh. That’s actually the feedback I received from writing workshops: “Ikaw, ang dami dami mong material, bakit hindi ka na lang magsulat tunkol sa status ng Pililipnas?” Eh hindi talaga ako natutuwa eh.

When you’re dealing with taboos, with that kind of transgression, you take the reader far beyond their comfort zones. How do you ground them?

You ground them with characters who are real people, with sympathetic concerns and motivations. This is something Philip K. Dick was great at. Even monstrous creatures can have drives that people will understand: hunger, for example, is something we’re all familiar with–I used that for my were-dog story in “Tales of Enchantment and Fantasy”. Other creatures can be motivated by a need for control, say a Tikbalang in a crime family. The characters can be inhuman, but their motivations can still be human. They may have special needs, but that’s still a motivation that can be sympathetic.

I think this is one of the powers of horror: defamiliarization. That can also work to make the central form of a metaphor stronger.

You might also want to check out Fidelis Tan’s two part review of Demons of the New Year itself. Part one / Part two.

RP612Fic 2010: The Stories

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 16 - 2010

If there’s one theme that I’d say unites many of the stories in this year’s RP612fic, it’s this: a need for catharsis. We’re coming off a decade under an unpopular President, and while many are hopeful for the coming administration, there still remains a lot of unsettled issues, a lot of unpsent anger. Luckily, catharsis is one of the functions that fiction can undertake in the life of both writers and readers, and I hope that participating in this year’s Independence Day micro story tweet fest helped a few of us get ready for the new challenges that face us, while helping us remember what has come before.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated, especially Dominique Cimafranca who was impressively prolific during the RP612fic period. We generated over one hundred and fifteen stories over the Independence Day weekend–here are a few of my favorite stories:

RP612fic 2010 faves

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point to Adam David’s essay on freedom, over at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

The rest of the stories run the gamut from science fiction, to horror, to fantasy (from the fantasy that means “magic” to the fantasy that means “how I wish this were true). Some are meant to be read alone, others in sequence (although there was a limit to how I could arrange them in anything but the reverse chronological order of a Twitter search.) Some aren’t stories in so much as hopes, dreams, or ideas and that’s fine too.The usual disclaimer applies: these stories are meant as fiction, and are not to be taken as allegations of actual facts, nor as statements of actual intent.

And now, beneath the cut, are the rest of the stories. (2009′s stories are here.) Enjoy, and see you all next year!

Read the rest of this entry »

RP612Fic 2010 – Celebrate Independence Day with Twitter Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 7 - 2010


This coming Saturday is June 12, Independence Day here in the Philippines, an occasion well worth commemorating–and, for writers, perhaps commemorating in our own inimitable way. Last year, on my old blog “Bahay Talinhaga”, I invited people to celebrate independence day on Twitter by tweeting six word stories and tagging them with #RP612fic. Even on such short notice–I only had the bright idea a day before independence day–quite a few people chose to participate and we ended up with a hundred original micro stories, (some NSFW so ‘ware the link) give or take, which I personally found to be an excellent way to celebrate our independence.

So, as should be apparent by now, I’d like to do this again this year–and with more advance notice as well. For RP612Fic 2010, I’m doing away with the six word limit–any story which would fit a tweet with the #RP612fic tag will do, so 130 characters, regardless of how many words are included therein. Let’s start posting the stories on Friday, June 11, and I’ll wait until the afternoon of June 14 before putting all the tweets/stories together in a post. Aside from that time limit, there are no real rules, though obviously I’d love good spec fic micro stories about Filipinos/the Philippines–and I have a special love for alternative history stories at this time of year. (For instance, what if there had been perfect attendance at the House of Representatives when the Freedom of Information Bill was on the table last Friday?)

If you’re on Twitter, tag your stories with #RP612fic so I can compile them in a post. If you’re not on Twitter but would still like to participate, just shoot me an email before June 13 at rocketkapre[at] and place “RP612fic” in the subject line and I’ll include these stories in the aggregation post.

So that’s it. I hope that all of you can participate and help spread the word. Looking forward to reading all your stories ^_^

(Image of old school Philippine soldiers from

Alternative Alamat: Now Open for Submissions

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 1 - 2010


And we’re off! The reading period for Alternative Alamat opens today and will stay open until August 30, 2010. Guidelines can be found here.   I ask for your patience and forbearance, kind authors, should it take me a bit to reply to your submissions. For those still in need of ideas, never fear, there’s still quite a bit of time, and I’ll be posting a new aid, similar to the Myth List, on the site soon.

Good luck and write well everyone! Can’t wait to read your stories.



About Me

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.