Laotian American steampunk writer Bryan Thao Worra has a neat post up on his blog, “On The Other Side Of The Eye” about incorporating historical figures in steampunk stories set in Southeast Asia, noting some special difficulties and enumerating a few interesting candidates. One of the reasons I decided to set my “Wooden War” stories (like “High Society“) in the time period that I did (even if it’s earlier than the typical steampunk story) is because there are a lot of interesting historical characters who take the stage at or about this time. Bryan’s post makes for good research, and if you’d like to suggest a few folks from Philippine history (here or there), you’d be more than welcome!
Archive for January, 2012
This post is a part of our story-by-story review of Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6. You can see the introductory post, and our disclaimers here. Bold font is Mia Tijam, everything else is Paolo Chikiamco.
This is a story by a (publishing) virgin… Congratulations young dude, you are not a virgin anymore! And you win the award for the most marked so far (see http://aremantha.blogspot.com/2011/11/rhum-coke-night.html#more for exhibit A, first page. You should see pages 48 and 50.) Let’s start with the POV: the “I” here is a schizo, it swings from and to—
A) I-as-3rd-person omniscient (the “I” speaks like the narrator)
B) I-as-1st-person-limited (the “I” speaks of internal reality/train-of-thought/the character)
C) I-as-Author (it’s the author unaware that he has become the storyteller acting as the storyteller with an “I”)
A) The first line of the story; in fact, the first couple of paragraphs in the story.
B) Page 46, after the first Click, the lot of those paragraphs.
C) Once the furor died down. See that’s the language/vocabulary of the author, not the “I” character.
What say you, Counsel?
For me, this was overshadowed by other concerns during the first reading, but on second reading I see that schism, though I’d conflate (A) and (C) into one–not sure that I know enough about the POV character to have a firm grasp about what is or is not in his vocabulary. (Though that’s not to say some word choices didn’t jar me – the use of reclusion perpetua, for instance, since that’s a legal term that doesn’t gel well with an “eternity” of punishment…)
— It’s the difference in the constructs of the “I”. Think of I as A, B, C— these are three different characters/realities/perspectives. The problem then is that the story is using “I” and an “I” intrinsically will only have one identity unfolding that identity’s reality. But the “I” here is playing Holy Trinity, hahahaha.
It’s less of a POV issue for me, as it is an immersion issue.
— Dude, POV is immersion. Latter is dependent on former. How in the world can a reader be immersed in the story without the POV?
[Pao: You need a POV for any story of course, but I think you can be immersed in a story with a mishandled POV. I don't think it'll happen often, but it is possible, if the thoughts/reactions that the reader is shown remain authentic.]
Mina Esguerra is one of the Filipino authors most beloved by the blogging community, partly because she writes excellent “chick lit” stories in a Philippine context, and partly because she maintains a regular online presence. Her next romance novella is a YA book with speculative elements, so I jumped at the chance to have her on the blog for a short interview.
Tell us a bit about your new book, “Interim Goddess of Love”:
Interim Goddess of Love is my first YA romance novella, and it’s about Hannah, a sophomore scholarship student at a college just outside of Metro Manila. Her world changes pretty much overnight when her friend (and not-so-secret crush), reveals to her that he’s actually the god of the sun, and that he needs her to temporarily be the goddess of love. Because the original goddess is missing. It’s the first volume of what I’ve planned as a series. (Operative word is “planned” of course.)
In an interview last year, you mentioned how your first novel pitch was for a YA story that was not picked up. What made you decide to return to that genre now? How do you approach writing a YA novel as opposed to one that is not aimed at that market?
Before getting published that first time (My Imaginary Ex, a chick lit novella), I had only ever really written YA — stuff that was more Sweet Dreams- and Sweet Valley-ish. Writing chick lit now, I actually still take my YA concept and just age the characters by five to seven years. My books are not very “adult” or raunchy. (My mother will disagree, but anyway.) I’ve also used a lot of flashbacks to college, so I feel like I never really left that comfort zone.
I pay attention to readers mentioning my books in social media though, and I noticed that they’re young. Teenagers. Younger than I’d expected since the stories are about twenty-somethings. So I thought maybe I could work on a story and keep the characters teenagers too, instead of aging them. That’s how Interim Goddess of Love started.
Just heard about two workshops that may be of interest to Rocket Kapre readers. First up is “PUBLISHING IN PAJAMAS: HOW I SUCCESSFULLY RELEASED MY BOOKS TO THE WORLD”, a talk on digital self-publishing by Mina V. Esguerra (who I’ll be interviewing next week about her new YA fantasy-romance, “Interim Goddess of Love“). The talk is this coming Saturday afternoon, and you can go here for details.
Next we have a workshop from Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the prestigious New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. The workshop takes place over the course of three days andthe deadline for reservations is on January 23, 2012. You can read more details here.
[Links and images from Panitikan]
For our second Alternative Alamat contributor interview this year, I’ve spoken with Andrei Tupaz, author of “Offerings to Aman Sinaya”. Andrei used to work as a primary school teacher in the Philippines but now lifts heavy boxes of produce and stocks shelves five days a week at a supermarket in Wellington, New Zealand. In his spare time, when he isn’t recovering from all the lifting he does at work, he works out at the gym, or spends time with his wife doing extremely productive things like lazing about near the Wellington wharf, watching shows and movies, or acceding to his body’s gastronomic demands.
Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?
My story focuses on a fishing tribe, and their relationship to the sea goddess Aman Sinaya. It also asks and “answers” the question: “If Aman Sinaya, goddess of the sea, really existed, what kind of offering would she accept from those who fish within her domain?”
Did you draw upon any specific personal experiences in writing this story? Experiences of the sea, of love, or a clash between old and new?
I guess an experience that I drew upon is the time my friends (including my then girlfriend and now wife) and I swam with whale sharks in Donsol. I wore a life vest because I couldn’t swim (I knew how to paddle but couldn’t stay afloat). We saw four whale sharks. The first one I saw (was it really the size of a bus?) went straight toward me, and then veered away at the last second. If I stretched out my hand I would have touched the whale shark’s snout (touching the whale shark would have been wrong of course); it felt like I was that close.
I still can’t truly put into words the awe and amazement I felt swimming with those whale sharks. Our guide, a man in his forties, was an incredible swimmer and diver. Seeing him, and the other men in the bangka we hired, move so effortlessly around the bangka, and in the water – that also affected me. Another experience that probably “jumpstarted” the story was seeing a high school friend’s photo of the sunken cemetery in Camiguin, with the iconic cross rising out of the ocean. My friend had composed the photo so that the cross was in the upper third of the photo. On the lower third of the photo, there was a bangka moving towards the cross.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?
The part of the writing process I like most is the start – when the screen is white and devoid of any text. Because then I can write anything, and it doesn’t have to make sense or be coherent. I like writing short 250 to 500 word ‘freewrites’ about a concept I have (if you’re ‘freewriting’ about a concept, is it still a freewrite?), because it feels like I’m just indulging in my imagination, but to turn that concept into a whole story… ahh that’s hard work.
That’s how Offerings to Aman Sinaya actually came about…out of a 500 word ‘freewrite.’ I wrote about a parent telling a bedtime story to his child, of fishermen diving to the bottom of the sea, to pray to a statue of the Virgin Mary. Funny how the original freewrite had such a Catholic motif.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?
Creating a coherent story. I had written so many “what if” versions on the idea of giving an offering to a sea goddess, with so many different characters, that I had a hard time choosing what the plot was going to be about.
How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?
I learned about some folktales from my parents and carers (including stories of aswangs and the like), and read a bit of Lam-ang in high school, but I only really started learning about Philippine myths and legends when I bought a copy of Damiana Eugenio’s Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths. Sadly, I lost my copy of the book before I could finish it.
Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?
Bernardo Carpio maybe? Also Maria Makiling, because the tales about her are so varied; sometimes she’s extremely kind, sometimes a lover who has been spurned, at other times a forbidding and dangerous guardian of her domain.
Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?
Bernardo Carpio, because he was named after a hispanic character, and yet was supposedly seen by the Katipuneros as a symbol against Spanish oppression. Also Maria Makiling, for the reasons stated above.
As always, remember that you can purchase Alternative Alamat at any of the following vendors:
Andrei Tupaz used to work as a primary school teacher in the Philippines but now lifts heavy boxes of produce and stocks shelves five days a week at a supermarket in Wellington, New Zealand. In his spare time, when he isn’t recovering from all the lifting he does at work, he works out at the gym, or spends time with his wife doing extremely productive things like lazing about near the Wellington wharf, watching shows and movies, or acceding to his body’s gastronomic demands. Although he considers himself incredibly uncoordinated, he is also interesed in gymnastic-like activities, and has vowed that 2012 is the year he’ll definitely take circus/chinese pole classes at a circus school in Wellington.
Good news for Barnes & Noble Nook readers–”Alternative Alamat” is not only available on the Nook, it’s also been discounted there to US$3.99 (B&N’s decision, not ours) so now would be a great time to check it out, or spread the word to a Nook loving friend.
I’d like to point to three recent reviews of “Alternaitve Alamat”. The first is by Filipina writer Kristine Ong Muslim, and is on the Amazon page of “Alternative Alamat”, Kristine calls it “fine volume which showcases the contemporary retelling of Philippine myths” and gives it 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Kristine!
The second review comes from GMA News Online (courtesy of Melay Guanzon Lapeña), and it’s a very positive review, and she calls the book “an impressive collection of stories”. Of Rochita Loenen Ruiz’s “Harinuo’s Love Song”, Melay says it is “[b]eautifully told, the words swirl as the story unfolds” and she also says that “[f]ans of Budjette Tan’s hit graphic novel “Trese” are in for a treat” with the Trese prose story, “Last Full Show”. Melay takes the time to say a little something about each story, even if it’s just a brief description, and that’s greatly appreciated. Thanks Melay!
Don’t forget, you can find Alternative Alamat at these fine establishments:
Bitten by the pre-apocalypse muse? Adam David is looking for essays, fictions, poetry, songs, komix, doodles, photographs, videos, for THURSDAY NEVER LOOKING BACK, an electronic anthology that seeks to gather, process, and perform various end-of-the-world scenarios. You can see more details here.
While it’s not a Rocket Kapre release, “High Society“, my steampunk comic book with Hannah Buena, is getting a book page on the site, to give me a central hub to post purchasing information (now that it’s available from four different online retailers), as well as reviews. One notable review has come from Frida Fantastic, over at Adarna SF. Here’s an excerpt:
The comic does a good job of immersing the reader in the setting while still keeping it accessible for readers who aren’t familiar with the Philippines. I love details like the use of Filipino sound effects (e.g “bog!” instead of “wham!”).
Buena’s art is expressive and dynamic, with a subtle manga influence that makes everything extra adorable. It has a bit of of a sketchy feel because some of the pencils are visible, but it I think it’s aesthetically pleasing.
It’s also relevant to mention that “On Wooden Wings”, my short story in Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 6 that is set in the same world as “High Society” (and which will become the first part of the “Wooden War” series) was the subject of an in-depth review/analysis by Jha over at Silver Goggles. It’s very interesting to read impressions of that alternative history from a reader who is not Filipino but who is a fellow Southeast Asian.