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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts




Philippine American Writers and Artists blog for lit/arts events, reviews, news, and opportunities.

Filtering by Category: Interview

Interview: Animator and Graphic Novelist Louie Del Carmen at the LA Times


Via Hero Complex at LA Times: It’s been a big year for Louie Del Carmen, director of Cartoon Network’s new series “Dragons: Riders of Berk” — based on the 2010 DreamWorks animated feature “How to Train Your Dragon.” He is also a story artist on the studio’s upcoming animated feature “Rise of the Guardians,” due in theaters Nov. 21. And he debuted the second installment in his comic series “Steel Noodles” at Comic-Con International this summer. Though Del Carmen began working in animation more than 15 years ago — his credits include “Rugrats,” “Kim Possible” and “Kung Fu Panda” — his entry into the world of comics has been fairly recent. Hero Complex caught up withDel Carmen to talk about “Steel Noodles,” which follows an old man and a mysterious girl who must evade would-be captors and survive on a desolate planet.

HC: How did “Steel Noodles” come about? Where’d you get the idea for such a desolate world and compelling (and lovable) characters?

LDC: “Steel Noodles” is a synergy of several different things. I love intricately plotted, large-scale stories with over-arching characters and conflict. But what I really love are minimally told stories by complex characters. I also love interactivity between the story and the reader. Reading between the lines and the subtext is part of what makes stories so fulfilling. Along with that, I also gravitate to underdog, “one person against the (blank)” stories, where the individual is dwarfed by the oppression of the forces of antagonism. Then one day, I just started drawing these characters — the girl and the old man — and the more I drew them, the story seemed to start writing itself. I’m a big fan of science fiction, so I knew the world was being set in that genre. So I set out to write the entire world of “Steel Noodles.” I had to know from the inside out what made this world work. I had to be able to answer my own questions, because inevitably this would be what other people would ask. Ultimately my goal was not to reinvent the wheel; my story was going to be archetypal but minimal. It just needed to answer the questions it asks philosophically, and emotionally. I want it to be familiar but not banal. Old but fresh.

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For more information on Louie Del Carmen, go to his website.

Interview: Eugene Gloria on Words on a Wire


Via Words on a Wire:

Daniel Chacón & Benjamin Alire Sáenz talk with writer Eugene Gloria, whose latest book is My Favorite Warlord.  He explains why his latest collection grew out of a failed idea and re-incarnated itself after a visit to Kyoto.  Gloria also discusses how the publishing world has changed since his first book was published in 2000.  The Poem of the Week comes from today’s guest, Eugene Gloria.  He reads “Psalm of Myself” from his latest collection, My Favorite Warlord.

To hear this interview, click here.

Interview: RONALDO WILSON WITH ANDY FITCH at The Conversant


AF: Just to illustrate how all of this relates to the book, how you’ll ease your way into argument, could we discuss your use of the autobiographical? Farther Travelergives frequent reference, we’ve said, to academic job-market frustrations. It provides flitting testimony of an “I” wrecking its mom’s Porsche, perhaps her Mercedes. Either of those tonalities risks seeming self-involved. But of course part can be read as documentary record, parts as staged scenes of confession, parts as camp fantasy. Do you expect readers to make such distinctions? Does it matter? In terms of easing into an argument here, you’ll seem to present a polyvalent, polyvocal mode of subjecthood, yet never say so deliberately.

RW: You’re right. Self-involvement seems crucial when trying to reconstruct the self! Here multiple conversations happen in terms of class dynamics and thinking about my mother. She came to the U.S. from the Philippines when she married my father. The occupying Japanese government killed both of her parents. That vague sense I have comes from my dad, since she won’t discuss any of it with us. I’m slowly gaining the courage to ask her myself, but the book offers what I knew thus far. She’d trained in the Philippines as a journalist. She also obtained a nursing degree, and for a time worked in a leper colony. But when my mom came to the U.S., she couldn’t continue as a journalist or a nurse. No records. So she had to go back to school to re-train as a nurse’s assistant. She did some other things, studied stenography, ceramics. I’m just thinking about class play within the Filipino community. Also in the Black community. What does it means to boast or show, to maneuver outside of one’s class designation, something always in process and greatly contested? My brother, sister and I grew up to understand that we were poor. But we’d always had many things. My parents (and extended family) helped us finish college.

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Interview: Alex Gilvarry, Author of From the Memoirs of a Non-enemy Combatant (WNYC)


Alex Gilvarry discusses his debut novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-enemy Combatant, a story in which high fashion and homeland security clash. A flamboyant fashion designer named Boyet unexpectedly winds up in Gitmo, locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot.

Interview: Lysley Tenorio at The Rumpus


Rumpus: Filipino parents are often unsupportive of their children’s pursuit of the arts. Were you conditioned, like me, to become a doctor or lawyer? What did your parents think of your English major in college, and what does your Mom and siblings think about your work now? Did they read your book? Tenorio: My parents certainly liked the idea of my becoming a lawyer or a doctor, but they never sat me down and said I had to become one. For the most part, they were really hands off and that was a real saving grace for me. When I was in graduate school doing my MFA at the University of Oregon, I don’t even know how much my mother understood what I was doing.  She knew that I was trying to write a book, and that was it.  She was thinking, ‘My son’s getting a master’s,’ and that made her really happy. I love that. That’s all she needed to know.

My family has been nothing but supportive. When the book came out, they were really happy. My mother dropped out of school in the sixth grade in the Philippines, and while she can speak English, reading my work would be really tough for her. But my sister told me when my mother saw my book at the bookstore, she got weepy and kissed it.

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Interview: Gina Apostol at Bookslut!


One of the things I most love about your novel is that it has this strong political and historical sensibility, and yet those things seem indistinguishable from your narrator's inner life, from her personal story. This is in contrast, I think, to the many historical novels that read like fictionalized history lessons. How much, then, is the novel (in a general sense) tied up in your history, in the world's history? And why do so many people perceive it as something separate from history? My first novel, Bibliolepsy, took shape as the country's revolt also took shape. There's something in that: the novel is like a revolt happening in real time, with the end game hoped for but not known. Well, if the novel is a revolt happing in real time, an improvised thing, the interesting corollary is that history also is like a novel. History is surprisingly improvised, which is why tragedy happens. Why irony is at the heart of our experience. Aristotle called irony an element of drama; but it is an element of reality, in the sense that reality is a retrospective construction: it works like fiction.

We often forget this, but it was obvious to me, for instance, in 1986, when I was on the streets with a million people, wondering if the bazooka I just saw pass me by was going to kill me or not. We watched history happen, we were history, and it was like living in a novel, in the sense that we were in suspense about what would happen next. We are always in the middle of history, you know, if you think about it. We are always in some novel, wondering about the outcome. In 2000 with the election contretemps in Florida we were in a novel, we were in the middle of history, and the Supreme Court was a very bad author, creating a deus ex machina over something that, in hindsight, maybe we should have taken authorship of and rejected. It was a terrible day for democracy, and for the novel that is the United States of America, I think, when the election was decided by a Supreme Court verdict: that was a terrible plot. I still don't know how we allowed that to happen, why we were so passive, why as citizens most seemed to think we had no say in the plot, in the story of our democracy. I still have theNewsweek cover story that came a year or so later, September 2011, on the summary of journalists' investigations of Florida -- I believe the idea was that if Gore had been allowed to pursue the case, the results would have shown he had won. Of course, that Newsweek story came out the week of 9/11. Aristotle would have noted the peripeteia in that -- the reversal of expectations, the irony.

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Interview with Alex Gilvarry: The funny world of fashion and terrorism


At The Economist: POLITICS and fashion are not mutually exclusive interests—a person might pledge to ProPublica only to enjoy a slideshow moments later. In literature, however, they tend to make strange bedfellows. So it’s with great pleasure that we read Alex Gilvarry’s funny debut novel, “From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant”, which cleverly entwines these seemingly disparate fictional worlds.

All it takes is one error in judgment to sweep Boy Hernadez, a newly minted Filipino fashion designer, away from Bryant Park and into No Man's Land—Mr Gilvarry’s fictionalised Guantanamo. The book is a post-modern mash-up of Boy’s flamboyant confession, a reporter’s mocking footnotes and some false documents.

This book is a unique satire of the topsy-turvy times immediately following the September 11th attacks. Mr Gilvarry spoke to us about mid-aughts Manhattan, the post-9/11 novel and the hazards of certain proper nouns.

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Interview: Lysley Tenorio on The Blood Jet Writing Hour


Via the blood-jet radio hour:

Join Rachelle Cruz as she talks with Lysley Tenorio, author of MONSTRESS, on Wednesday, February 8th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST. To listen live, click here.

Lysley Tenorio’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Manoa, The Chicago Tribune, and The Best New American Voices and Pushcart Prize anthologies. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a graduate of the University of Oregon Creative Writing Program, he is a recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, a National Magazine Award nomination, and fellowships from the University of Wisconsin, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Born in the Philippines, he currently lives in San Francisco, and is an Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California.

The Rumpus Interview with Barbara Jane Reyes


Rumpus Poetry Editor Brian Spears conducted the following interview via email. The Rumpus: I love the way you work with creation myths in Diwata, especially because you pull from multiple backgrounds. What drew you to that concept, and what were the big challenges you faced in working that soil over?

Barbara Jane Reyes: Thank you for reading Diwata, first of all. I’ve been influenced by Filipino writers and artists whose source material are the indigenous arts and cultural productions of the islands. The musicians Joey Ayala and Grace Nono were my “way in.” Ayala introduced me to the term, “Bagong Lumad,” the “new native,” or the “altered native,” or “the alternative,” as he wrote in his liner notes to one of his albums. In other words, how have the “natives” survived modernization and urbanization, how do they continue their cultural practices now, in the 21st century. The themes in Joey’s songs also espouse values we could call “indigenous” — environmental advocacy, reciprocity, et al.

Nono, I believe, is an ethnomusicology teacher at University of the Philippines. She’s recorded various chants, songs, and other orally transmitted narratives in different communities. One of her albums which has had a profound affect on my poetics is Isang Buhay, which means, “One Life.” So the songs on this album are a life cycle, a series of rites of passage, and they contain some wonderful call and response, incantation, praise, and lament. The quality of her voice as well is just tremendous; it embodies “diwata,” a strong woman voice that is elemental and otherworldly.

Of course, both of these artists are Philippines-based, and I have lived most of my life in this country, so I admit to a huge experiential disconnect. That is always a challenge.

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Interview: C.E. Gatchalian - "Crossing and Other Plays"


Belatedly posting this interview with Filipino Canadian playwright, C.E. Gatchalian, author of Crossing and Other Plays (Lethe Press), and whose play, Falling in Time, is currently showing in Vancouver: Vancouver playwright C.E. (Chris) Gatchalian is the author of three books of drama and one of poetry. His most recent undertaking is a collection of three dynamic plays that explore themes of sexuality and human behaviour. Crossing and Other Plays contains three plays: Crossing, Diamond and Ticks. Crossing explores the tormented, sexually charged relationship between a mother and her teenage son, bound together by guilt and fear over a horrific incident that occurred ten years prior. Diamond is an elliptical, metatheatrical dissection of one woman’s intimate story. Ticks is the frantic, metronome-accompanied monologue of a self-appointed, disease-stricken messiah, eager to bring a plague upon the city.

Here Chris talks to PGC about Crossing and Other Plays, how he feels about being called one of Canada's 'most daring' playwrights, and his upcoming projects.

PGC: Launched earlier this year, your most recent publication is a collection of three plays that have been described as "brilliant" and "disturbing". Tell us a little bit about each play.

Gatchalian: The three plays in Crossing & Other Plays were all written fairly early in my career, in the mid- to late nineties. Crossing is about the extraordinary relationship between a mother and her son who are trying to protect each other from the memory of a terrifying event ten years prior. The play is about abuse and love, truth and illusion, game-playing and harsh reality, the sacred and the profane. Diamond is a theatricalization of one woman's coming to terms with a private experience. And Ticks is about a diseased man who sees himself as a messiah, spreading what he sees as a necessary illness upon his city. These three are probably the most stylized plays I've ever written, so it's fitting they've all been gathered in one volume. While these are early plays, they are still good examples of what my work is known for: queer-themed, elliptical, non-realistic.


PGC: What advice would you give to an emerging/early career playwright?

Gatchalian: Be serious about your craft. Study, see lots of plays, read. Be conversant in all the arts, not just theatre and literature. The more you are exposed to, the more fully-fleshed your work will be. Don't use playwriting as merely a stepping stone to becoming a screenwriter--theatre is the most vital, most time-honoured of art forms and must be given due respect by anyone and everyone who chooses to practice it. Don't conform, but revere the great playwrights who've come before you.

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