Alternative Alamat Interview: Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 13 - 2011

Today, I continue my interviews with Alternative Alamat contributors, leading up to the release of the anthology TOMORROW. Today’s author should be a familiar name to any reader of Philippine speculative fiction: Eliza Victoria. Eliza was born in 1986. Her fiction and poetry have received prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. For additional information, visit her at http://sungazer.wordpress.com.


Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

My story concerns a teenage boy who ends up at a pawnshop owned by a woman named Ana – who turns out to be more than a simple pawnshop owner.

Have you ever had something positive result from getting lost or from losing something?

I’ve lost small items every now and then, but they’re of little to no consequence. Their loss didn’t really teach me anything life-altering. I guess the most recent, significant loss I’ve experienced was when my family lost our store to a fire last year. A year has passed and now my parents have stopped renting space and have bought a new store and got the business going again. The positive result? A realization and later a rock-solid belief that my parents are superheroes, that my family can survive anything, that I have no reason to give in so easily to despair.

And I think there was a time when I got lost in Greenhills and I ended up at a stall that sold the most gorgeous cheap shoes. Haha!

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you? What was the most difficult?

I don’t write to answer a call for entries. Normally I just write a story whenever I have the idea and the time, and then send it if it fits a certain publication. I didn’t have a story ready when I read Rocket Kapre’s call for entries to Alternative Alamat, but I was tempted to try to write a story that would fit the anthology. Often, before I begin writing, I already know how the story will flow and how it will end. I didn’t know how “Ana’s Little Pawnshop” would end when I started writing it. I wasn’t even quite sure what it was really about! There were just these two characters talking about sold items. So that was fun, trying to figure out where the characters would take me, but it was also difficult because I had no outline.

I had fun writing in the teenage boy’s voice. I haven’t used the “I” persona in a long while, so that was a wonderful change. I also loved describing Ana’s shop and all its items. I just hope it’s as fun to read as well.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

I think it’s through this cheap book of myths and legends that I found lying around the house when I was a child. I can’t remember the author or publisher. I saw it as a horror collection. Imagine a child reading about the origin of the pineapple, or how the lizard came to be. Freaky little stories. Most of our legends are stories of tragic transformations, and they mystified me. I loved them.

 

Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?

I think it’d be interesting to make a movie about Lam-ang or Bernardo Carpio or Mariang Makiling and set it in the present. Or the future, why not? Lam-ang with a robot chicken. That would be awesome.

Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?

Mariang Makiling, because she’s bad-ass.

Expanded Horizons Fundraising Drive (Christmas 2011)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 7 - 2011

The online SF magazine Expanded Horizons is undertaking their holiday fundraising drive, and this time they aim to raise enough funds to pay their authors semi-pro rates nextyear. Expanded Horizons is a quality magazine, but that’s not the only reason it deserves support from Filipinos and from readers of Filipino Fantastic Fiction–Expanded Horizons was founded in order to “increase diversity in the field of speculative fiction, both in the authors who contribute and in the perspectives presented.” This includes a focus on fiction by authors of color, or featuring characters of color. You can read more specifics about their laudable mission here.

Expanded Horizons has published many stories/poems by Filipino authors, including Eliza Victoria, Kristine Ong Muslim, Katya Oliva-Llego, Anne Abad, Catherine Batac Walder, and Mia Tijam. A well funded Expanded Horizons can only benefit Filipino authors in search of markets for their fiction. To highlight the support that Expanded Horizons gives Filipino authors, here’s a hyperlinked list of all of the Filipino-written stories/poems they’ve published to date:

Alternative Alamat: Cover, Release Date, Story Introductions

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 1 - 2011

Cover for "Alternative Alamat" by Mervin Malonzo

 

EDIT: Alternative Alamat is out now on Amazon and Flipreads!

On December 14, 2011, “Alternative Alamat“–our anthology of stories inspired by Philippine mythology–will be released on Amazon.com, Flipreads.com, and the iTunes store. This anthology has been more than a year in the making, and it is near and dear to my heart, so any help spreading the word would be greatly appreciated. I’m excited, not the least of which because of the excellent cover art provided by Mervin Malonzo (creator of “Tabi Po“, who also provides the interior illustrations), and because I believe we’re attempting something that hasn’t been done before, in the context of Philippine mythology.

Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… yet too few of these tales are known and read today. “Alternative Alamat” gathers stories, by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find in common in these eleven stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse, and develop a hunger, for those venerable tales.

“Alternative Alamat” also features a cover and interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo, a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

If you are a book blogger or book reviewer and would like to review/feature Alternative Alamat, please do contact me at rocketkapre[at]g mail. To give you a sneak peek of what to expect from the anthology, after the cut I’ve included the introductions for each of the eleven stories, which also serve as the bios for each of the contributors.

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Alternative Alamat

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 1 - 2011

Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… yet too few of these tales are known and read today. “Alternative Alamat” gathers stories, by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find in common in these eleven stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse, and develop a hunger, for those venerable tales.

“Alternative Alamat” also features a cover and interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo, a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

[Page still under construction - some details/links to be added later.]

Alternative Alamat: Table of Contents

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 13 - 2011

It gives me great pleasure to finally be able to announce the table of contents of our first commercial anthology “Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology”. It’s been a long road, but I’ve enjoyed every step of the way. The book will be digital-only for now, and will be published in cooperation with Flipside Digital before the end of the year. I’ll be releasing more information about the anthology in the coming weeks.

“Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” by Eliza Victoria

“Harinuo’s Love Song” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz

“The Last Full Show” by Budjette Tan

“The Alipin’s Tale” by Raymond G. Falgui

“Keeper of My Sky” by Timothy James Dimacali

“Conquering Makiling” by Mo Francisco

“The Sorceress Queen” by Raissa Rivera Falgui

“Beneath The Acacia” by Celestine Trinidad

“Offerings to Aman Sinaya” by Andrei Tupaz

“Balat, Buwan, Ngalan” by David Hontiveros

“A Door Opens:  The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang” by Dean Alfar

Appendix A: A Few Notable Philippine Deities

Appendix B: Interview with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben

Appendix C: Interview with Professor Fernando N. Zialcita

Appendix D: On Researching Philippine Mythology

Cover and interior artwork by Mervin Malonzo

TOC: Diaspora Ad Astra

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 23 - 2011

Estranghero Press has revealed the table of contents and cover art (by Oscar Alvarez) for its Science Fiction anthology “Diaspora Ad Astra”. The digital anthology is scheduled to be released this month. Here’s what you can look forward to reading:

  1. War Zone Angel, by Professor Emil Flores
  2. The Day the Sexbomb Dancers Invaded Our Brains, by Carljoe Javier
  3. The Malaya, by Dean Francis Alfar
  4. The Cost of Living, by Vince Torres
  5. Ina Dolor’s Last Stand, by Raymond P. Reyes
  6. Oplan Sanction, by Alex Osias
  7. The Keeper, by Audrey Villacorta
  8. Ashes Ember, by Dannah Ruth S. Ballesteros
  9. Rizal, Eliza Victoria
  10. Gene Rx, Katya Oliva-Llego
  11. Robots and a Slice of Pizza, Raydon Reyes
  12. Lucky, Raven Guerrero
  13. A List of Things We Know, Isabel Yap
  14. Taking Gaia, Celestine Trinidad
  15. Space Enough and Time, Anne Lagamayo

PSF6 Launch Photos

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 29 - 2011

PSF6_P1020171

The launch for the sixth volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction took place last Saturday, with the inimitable Dean Alfar once again serving as master of ceremonies and all-around entertainer–the PSF launches usually turn into roasts for the editors and contributors (and being absent is no defense) and a grand time was had by all. I’ll have videos from the launch and the earlier launch of the crime issue of Philippine Genre Stories later this week, but first here are some photographs from the event.

PSF6_P1020169

In spite of the rains, (and some *ahem* premature storm warnings), the UView Theater of Fully Booked was jam packed–this photo is from early in the proceedings, and by midway people were lining the walls, in spite of the addition of the monobloc cavalry. The downside to that is the volume sold out minutes after the launch was over–if you want another print run, make sure you make your voices heard!

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Redstone SF Interviews Charles Tan (Part 1)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 9 - 2011

Redstone Science Fiction has part one of a two part interview with Charles Tan. For those who don’t know Charles, he’s an author, editor (Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler; Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009), Philippine spec fic advocate and prolific blogger (he runs Bibliophile Stalker , and contributes to SF Signal and The World SF Blog, amongst others).

The interview touches upon quite a few topics, including the fact that Charles is more well known abroad than in the Philippines, local cyberpunk, and the Philippine authors most likely to become well-known. An excerpt:

Who do you think will become the first Filipino science fiction writer to become well-known?

Science fiction, or does fantasy count, too?

 

Let’s do both.

Well, there’s no real hard science fiction writers that are active, just some people who dabble in science fiction. I dabble in science fiction, and I think that Rochita, also, might dabble in it from time to time. I don’t think that there’s really anyone who is going to make a big impact, although Eliza may, in a few years, through sheer quantity, if nothing else [laughs]. Dean Francis Almar is the first Filipino to be published in “Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror”. He was first internationally published in “Strange Horizons”. He will probably be the first Filipino to have a true international following. Whenever I give a book to a foreign writer or friend, it is his.

Podfiction: “Reunion” by Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 3 - 2011

Pakinggan Pilipinas recently released their May story: “Reunion” by Palanca Award-winner (and Usok contributor) Eliza Victoria. You can find the story here. Here’s some background to the story, from the author herself (from the Pakinggan Pilipinas Facebook page):

I remember I was ironing my clothes one day and, as what usually happens during empty, boring hours, I began thinking of a story I might write next. I realized then that I haven’t actually written anything “epic” – meaning, anything big in scope, a story with a long timeline and several settings.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Children’s Crusade, and I wanted to write a story that would start with that. I read about the cholera outbreak in Manila while at work, and I wanted to put that into the story, too. I thought it was a mess.

At the time I only had this vague story idea involving two young men trying to look for each other through the centuries. For several weeks I wondered what their relationship might be. One day I decided they would be brothers. But who are they? I asked myself. And why are they looking for each other?

When I was able to sufficiently answer these two questions, I hunkered down to write the story.

 

 

Usok 2 Interview: Eliza Victoria

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 6 - 2011

Whenever an issue of Usok comes out, I conduct a short interview with the authors, to give readers some insight into the creation of the stories, as well as the authors themselves. As we started our interviews for Usok 2 with VN Benedicto, who did the art for “Elsewhere“, we’ll begin the author interviews with the author of “Elsewhere“: Eliza Victoria, one of the country’s most prolific authors of speculative fiction. Don’t believe me? Check out her newly minted author’s page here on the site, and see for yourself.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your story.

It was just a what-if that came out of nowhere: What if there were a natural phenomenon – like lightning, or rain – that could create superheroes, but those superheroes couldn’t choose their powers? I thought it was a scary idea, and a sad one, and I had to write about it.

What aspect of the story gave you the most difficulty?

There is a secret in the story, and it is always difficult to hide a secret.

What aspect of the story gave you the most joy?

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at using a different structure for the short story. I’d planned to use the structure of a film script, and even studied a handful, but couldn’t find a narrative to sustain the form. Then one day my boyfriend mentioned taking up a comic-writing class in the University of the Philippines, our alma mater, and I insisted on seeing his script. Before I saw his comic script, I already had the idea [for “Elsewhere”] in my head, but as usual couldn’t start it because I couldn’t figure out the right way to tell it to make the story different from all others. Then I saw my boyfriend’s script, and I realized, here it was: a narrative structure based on images, a structure I could use.

Not long after, he lent me several comic books, one of which was a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602. 1602 contains a sample script of the graphic novel. I studied that closely, and had fun writing those portions of the story.

However, I still don’t know if I could write an actual comic book script.

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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.

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