From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Author Spotlight: Joseph F. Nacino

Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing “Logovore”?

Okay, the inception of the story came about from an idea of a person who eats words in order to live. Normally, I have a writing exercise that involves timing myself to write within a 15-minute period which is perfect if I want to flesh out a particular concept. But this time, because I was feeling particularly inspired with the idea, I extended my 15-minutes to give birth to the vignette, “The Word-Eater Falls in Love.” (For an idea of this came about, you can read my blog post about it here, which was first written in 2005.)

You said that “Logovore” was inspired by the idea of “how a person who survives on eating one particular language would be able to live in a foreign land.” Do you enjoy traveling or moving to new places? What do you like or dislike most?

Well, it’s always good to travel and I’ve been to a few cities in Europe, the US and Southeast Asia. So yes, I like traveling and new places. However, I usually get homesick for a Filipino face after a week or so and I can never really survive long without our basic staple, which is rice.

Also, one thing I like about traveling to new places is–of course–all the new sights to see like the canals in Amsterdam and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I also loved looking at the architecture in Paris but really, it’s best if you go there with a friend or loved one: it’s hard not to point at the Eiffel Tower and say “Look at that!” and there’s no one beside you.

If you could survive on words, which do you think would be your favorites? Why?

If I had to survive on words, I think it would be “the”. It’s tasteless and bland but at least it’s prolific. (Oh, sorry about that mental block in your head for a moment.)

You won for “Logovore” at the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards in 2007. Now you are both Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for Estranghero Press, which promotes speculative fiction written by Filipinos. How did you transition from one to the other?

I like the fact that speculative fiction is growing in the Philippines. I consider myself quite lucky to have been at the start of Dean Francis Alfar’s campaign to get some local attention for Philippine speculative fiction especially after his story, “Kite of Stars”, was reprinted in Datlow and Windling Year’s Best in Fantasy and Horror. When Alfar started the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology-series, I started writing and submitting stories to him as well as to Kenneth Yu’s Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. That’s when I also first met Philippine speculative fiction stalwart Charles Tan (who would later set up the websites for the Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction and the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler).

A few years after winning in the 2nd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards in 2007, I realize that I should also do my part in trying to promote Philippine speculative fiction and not just writing it. Unfortunately, publishing a print magazine or book costs money in this country so I had to go with the economical alternative, which is online. That’s when I came up with Estranghero Press, which is really about creating a space where Philippine speculative fiction stories can be found on the Internet.

(Fortunately, others had the same great idea like Paolo Chikiamco of Rocket Kapre and Elyss Punzalan of Pakinggan Pilipinas— so now there’s more story-love to share.)

What would you recommend as must-reads for readers new to Filipino speculative fiction?

Obviously, you can try to get any copy of Alfar’s Philippine Speculative Fiction or maybe an issue of Yu’s Digest of Philippine Genre Stories. However, the print editions may be hard to come by in shores other than the Philippines. So your best bet would be to check out the stories online like “The Farthest Shore,” “Demons of the New Year,” “Usok,” and podcast stories in Pakinggan Pilipinas. Our local writers have also been making headway in the international market, like Dean Francis Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Eliza Victoria, Kenneth Yu, and Mia Tijam (and a whole host of other writers I can’t remember at the moment who’d probably kill me for not mentioning them).

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Before we conclude, could you tell us what is next for you?

Well, I’m coming out with the third online anthology for Estranghero Press before the end of the year, which is the science fiction-themed Diaspora Ad Astra. And I’m still writing my little stories that I hope people will like amidst trying to earn a living. Who knows, maybe I’ll get around to finishing a novel or something.

Jennifer Konieczny hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An alumna of Villanova University, she now pursues her doctorate in medieval studies at the University of Toronto. She enjoys working with fourteenth-century latin legal texts, slushing for Fantasy Magazine, and scanning bookshelves for new authors to read.