In trying to write something more about myself, I decided to do a list instead, in question and answer form.
(1) What inspired me to write The Secret of Angat?
I have always loved ghost stories and supernatural tales. I grew up in the Philippines where we told ghost stories all the time. Filipinos love the macabre and we have a universe of horrible creatures like the manananggal (a woman whose body separates in half at night and the top half flies around and sucks the blood of babies), aswang (a shape-shifting supernatural being that can appear as a pig, a dog or a human), etc. Filipinos believe in ghosts (headless Spanish priests roaming around the old colonial churches, spirits of dead people out for revenge). So I decided to write one, to entertain myself and anyone else who likes horror stories.
(2) What are my favorite ghost stories?
The stories of M.R. James are the best in the “gothic horror” genre. You can find them in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary and The Haunted Doll’s House and Other Ghost Stories. M.R. (Montague Rhodes) James (1862-1936) was an English writer, scholar of Medieval History and provost of King’s College, Cambridge and of Eton College.
(3) Who are my favorite writers?
John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad, and J.G. Farrell are at the top of my list.
(4) What are my favorite books?
Anna Karenina, War and Peace, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Stories of John Cheever.
(5) What are the most difficult things about writing a book?
Editing the first draft and the second and the third…is very difficult. There have been times where it has taken me a hour to edit two pages! Until you write a novel, you don’t know just how slow the process can be. I wish I were the kind of writer who can write an award-winning book in three months.
(6) When did I start writing?
I’ve always been writing stories since I was in high school. Now it’s easier than ever to put one’s work in the hands of the public, so I decided to give it a shot.
(7) What are my favorite places on earth?
I love Japan (Kyoto, Hokkaido, Koyasan, Kurokawa-onsen) and Italy (Venice, Rome, Capri, the Dolomites, Sicily).
(8) If I were stuck in a lift with a famous author, who would I like it to be?
It would probably have to be M.R. James, master of gothic horror. I’d like him to tell me more ghost stories. Then getting stuck in the lift wouldn’t be so bad.
(9) What’s the future for The Secret of Angat?
I’d love to have it translated into Japanese and perhaps made into a movie in Japan or the Philippines.
(10) What am I writing next?
The Secret of Angat is the first of a trilogy. I have to write the other two parts. Stay tuned!