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Dec 16, 2010
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You have a new book out, Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan, and it’s your 8th. We heard it’s the first ever locally published book in the Philippines to have a nationwide simultaneous book release—parang Harry Potter lang. How does that make you feel?
It feels good to have your book receive the same treatment book stores give imported books.  To be treated as a ‘foreigner’ in the Philippines, it feels good.  Usually our book stores revere local books in the same way they do used bus tickets.  [firstpara]
Do you lurk around bookstores to see how many people would buy your books?
I do my book store rounds when there’s an opportunity. 

It’s both unnatural and unwise for any writer not to care where his/her books go and who reads them. 

I was in the book stores in Mall of Asia last November 30 [when it was released].

Tell us more about Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan. Is it true that the character Mama Susan is based on Susan Enriquez?
My latest book is inspired by true events.  Part of the book is written by the real “Galo,” entries were lifted from his journal.  (I didn’t write the rap lyrics.) 

Life is too short to be spent writing the same books.  So I write in different genres, with the support of loyal readers who allow me creative freedom. 

Each book I write is different from the last one, my latest being horror. 

I believe I speak for most writers when I say ideas for a book could range from weeks old to decades. I can no longer remember how long I’ve been toying with the idea for Mama Susan. 

You have this several ideas in your head and one would just step up and say “I’m most ready. It’s my turn.  Write me now.”

Sa mga kaibigan ni Mama Susan, sino ang pinaka-sexy? Papayag bang magpose si Mama Susan at ang mga kaibigan nya for FHM?
Next to Reader’s Digest, FHM is Mama Susan’s favorite magazine.  She’ll personally let you know of her answers one of these days.

Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan, as I understand it, is a horror novel. How was the experience of writing it different from when you were writing your other projects?
Writing horror is not a very pleasant experience.  It’s not.  I couldn’t work at night.  Night time became a useless no-writing zone.  If our ka-Visprint, Bart “Tragic Theater” Coronel had brushes with the supernatural, I’d want none of that. 

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I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with “them.”  But writing horror is fun and challenging because it’s a good writing exercise.  I’m not a fan of horror books, but I find it now funny to remember mentioning in Stainless Longganisa that one of the first novels I’ve read was The Exorcist.  I’m also part of the majority who consider The Exorcist as the scariest movie of all time.  The most recent ‘scary’ movie I’ve seen is that Al Gore documentary.  

Of all the writers in the Philippines, you can be considered as the only bestselling author, being the only Filipino to break through National Bookstore’s (regularly released) top ten bestselling list in Fiction. Is that something you’ve dreamed of as a child? How do you feel about that?
I’ve dreamed of writing, seeing my works in book store shelves, and being read.  It is by God’s grace that I am able to sell more books than what we all thought was possible for a local writer.  But I don’t know about being a ‘bestselling author.’ 

Despite what most people in the industry say, I don’t remember any of my books hitting No.1, not even for a month.  It’s unclear how book stores come up with their charts.  I don’t mind being or not being on their Top Ten list. 

But I do mind that nobody knows their basis.  I’d easily concede to self-help, horror, humor, romance, or comic books, local or imported, but how many would believe that these popular genres would be outsold by recipes and coffee table books?  It’s a vicious, dishonest, marketing ploy book stores use to sell books; they’re fooling people and it’s very disturbing. 

Of course I could be wrong, in which case, I wish to be enlightened.  But I already told my publisher of my intent to pull out from the stores if things don’t change.  I wouldn’t mind losing my job, I just don’t want to be part of a corrupt system.  It’s unfortunate that I’m learning now of the politics and bureaucracy that govern the book industry.  It’s sad.

Next: Reading Programs, Critics, at ang huling gimik ni Bob Ong!


INTERVIEW BY CARLOS MALVAR

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