Alternative Alamat Interview: Timothy James Dimacali

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 17 - 2014

For the digital release of Alternative Alamat, I ran interviews with several of the contributing authors, asking them about writing in general and their stories in particular. I wasn’t able to interview everyone, however, so for the print launch this coming Saturday [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] I went back to the contributors I wasn’t able to interview last time.

TIMOTHY JAMES DIMACALI

Timothy James M. Dimacali, author of “Keeper of My Sky”, has always been fascinated by the intersection of science and mythology. He is currently the Science and Technology Editor of GMA News Online, but loves to play his violin every now and then. He has been a fellow for fiction at the annual Silliman University National Writers Workshop and the Iligan National Writers Workshop, and graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines.

The people of Panay tell the story of the god Tungkung Langit’s eternal search for his wife, the goddess Alunsina. They speak of how Tungkung Langit scattered Alunsina’s jewels in the sky in an effort to call her back to him; how her necklace became the stars; her comb, the moon; her crown, the sun. According to the old story, she never returned. Perhaps she had a good reason.

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

It’s a love story based on a very simple premise: What is it like for a god to be lonely?

The structure you used for the story was very striking. What led you to the decision to construct the story in this way?

I tend to write my stories in chunks, not necessarily in a specific order. If I think of an interesting scene or turn of phrase, I’ll write it at the bottom of the page. I’d collect several of these and move them up the page if I find a place for them to fit. But somewhere along the line when writing Keeper of My Sky, I realized that a lot of the random scenes I had thought up could be tied together as a parallel narrative. From that point on, it was just a matter of weaving the two streams together.

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

The whole writing process is fun for me! It’s like being on a rollercoaster that you built yourself, except that you’re riding it *while* building it. You have just a general idea of where you’d like to go, but the track is never quite the way you plan it and you never really know for sure how it’ll all end.

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

I honestly think it’s waiting for the pieces to fall into place. Sometimes I’d stare at the page and all I’d see are just bits and pieces, fragments that I’m not quite sure will fit together if at all. And that gut-wrenching feeling when you know that you’ll inevitably have to throw something out.

How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?

My single fondest memory is of a little book of Philippine myths and fairy tales, written in the 1960′s, that I found in my grandfather’s house.

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

Not any story, in particular, but the fabric of it all: the texture of the languages and cultures. I’ve always been fascinated by how closely Tolkien’s world echoed the myths and cultures of ancient Europe, and I feel that something similar can be done to Philippine mythology as well.

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

Seriously, it’s always been Tungkung Langit and Alunsina. Yes, that’s two characters, but they might as well be a single one. We often talk about lovers being “made” for each other, but just imagine what it must be like to be gods who have only ever existed for each other. And then imagine that, despite being a god, you can never be with literally the only other being in the entire Universe who completes you. That’s the loneliness that only a god could know.

Alternative Alamat (Expanded Print Edition)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 15 - 2014

FAQ: ALTERNATIVE ALAMAT, THE EXPANDED PRINT EDITION

Hello there! I’m Paolo Chikiamco, editor of Alternative Alamat, and thank you so much for showing interest in the new, expanded, print edition! I’m here to give you some basic information about the book in a more informal manner, since that’s how I roll (and apparently, you as well!) but if you found your way here by mistake and want the more formal press release, I’m working on that. But for now…

What is Alternative Alamat?

Short version: It’s an anthology of short stories that re-imagine Philippine myths and legends, written in English by Filipino authors.

Long version: 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 thirteen 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 common in these thirteen 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 interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”), a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

What is the Expanded Print Edition?

Alternative Alamat was originally a digital-only anthology with eleven stories. This is the first print edition of Alternative Alamat, and we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to add some new content that keeps with the theme of re-imagined mythology.

What is the additional material?

This print edition adds two more stories,  a short comic from Andrew Drilon, and a new story from Eliza Victoria, set in the same universe as “Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” I’ve also done a minor update to the Appendix on researching Philippine mythology.

Where is it available?

It’ll be available at the launch on July 19,   Saturday [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] , as part of a four-title launch that takes place  at Powerbooks, Greenbelt. It will be available at bookstores nationwide soon after, but we don’t have exact dates yet.

How much does it cost?

250 pesos.

What are the non-fiction sections?

I have five appendixes at the end of the book, meant to provide greater context for the stories, and aid those who want to study Philippine mythology.

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

Appendix E: Glossary of Selected Terms

Is it illustrated?

Yes, each of the original eleven stories is preceded by an illustration of a Philippine deity by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”). Aside from Andrew Drilon’s comic, there is no new artwork in the print edition, although a greyscale version of Mervin Malonzo’s cover for the digital edition is included.

Is the anthology suitable for young children?

In general, no, as there are several stories which tackle difficult/mature material.

Any there specific trigger warnings?

Sexual abuse; violence against women and children.

I’d like to review this book!

Great! Look forward to hearing from you.

Um, could I get a copy to review?

Drop me a line at rocketkapre[at]gmail with a link to your site/blog or name of your publication and I’ll try to set you up with a digital copy (of the print edition).

Should I buy the book?

I certainly think so! But then, I may be biased, so take a look below at what some people had to say about the original edition:

 

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

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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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