Hometown/Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
To be honest, not really. I don’t know if there was ever really a moment in time where I made the decision that writing was what I was meant to do. I think I’ve always known, since day one. My great aunt met me when I was six months old during her final trip to the United States (she was from the Philippines), and my dad recalled how she said that I am “a real Lola” and that I have “the hand of an artist.” I guess the art she was referring to was the art of storytelling.
Why do you write?
I write to speak; to tell stories. I’ve never been that big of an oral talker, and so writing has been more so my strength of expressing communication from an internal place; whether in the matters of telling a very real story, or something completely fictional. My brain has always tended to work a little differently in terms of putting together a story to tell, and with writing, you can take the time to tell it.
What is your favorite genre or style to write in?
I don’t know if I have a favorite genre. I have a wide collection of books, spreading across all sorts of genres. What I can say is that within the last year, I’ve really gotten into magical realism and fairytales. I’ve been reading a lot of books that incorporate one or the other element/genre into it and I’ve found it a very enjoyable education. I’ve even managed to incorporate influences such as these into my debut novel.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have a number of favorite authors, but one of them is definitely New Zealand author, Witi Ihimaera. Many Western audiences may be familiar with his novel The Whale Rider, especially since it was adapted for film about 12 years ago. However, he’s written many other books as well, and my collection of his works is consistently growing. I like learning about different countries and cultures, and he does my thirst justice by setting most of his books in the Maori community. Also, the way he’s able to incorporate a sense of humor into his stories- even those that have generally heavy content- makes his books all the more enjoyable to read.
What books have most influenced your life most?
As it is with a number of my favorite authors, I’ve noticed how many of the books that have influenced my life are international publications. That’s not to say that none of the books from here in the U.S. haven’t had any direct influence on me at all. There’s just something about books from other parts of the world, written by people hailing from different cultural environments and different upbringings than I have, that make them more “tick” in my eyes. From Witi Ihimaera, to David Mitchell, to Haruki Murakami, I can’t help but get lost their works, along with others.
Do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice that you would like to share with us?
In Haruki Murakami’s collection, The Elephant Vanishes, there’s this one short story from there that I really like called “A Window,” and it focuses on the interaction and eventual meeting of two people who are part of a letter-writing society. There’s a quote from there that I see as a standout piece of advice, and it is:
“Don’t try so hard to be the penetrating observer. Writing is, after all, a makeshift thing.”
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is to keep writing and write every day. It doesn’t have to be a five-page piece or anything; it could something as short as a sentence. Just as long as you keep the pen- or fingers on the keyboard- moving with your words often, everything else should fall into place.
Can you tell us a little background or anything special on the piece you composed?
I’m never the one to write flash fiction on a regular basis, but this is a concept that I’ve wanted to explore for a while; the moment where you learn that your significant other is in the hospital. This short piece follows a gay man as he goes through just that, and how his roommate comforts him in the most unorthodox yet best way he knows how.
The Waiting Game
Nathan’s hearing seemed to have vanished upon hearing the news no boyfriend ever wants to hear…
“… has been brought in a while ago… was found unconscious in an alleyway… believed to have been involved in a mugging…”
Apparently his voice was retained from being dissolved in his shock, as he was somehow able to utter the words that his one true love was lying unconscious in the hospital. Immediately, his roommate Conner called up a taxi.
Aside from Conner instructing the taxi driver on where to take them, no words were uttered from either of the two roommates as the taxi made its way down the street in the busy, New York City night. Nathan stared out the window, eyes glassy with tears threatening to burst forth, not really looking at the outside world passing by him at all. All that occupied the space in his mind were thoughts about the gap between when his love was… mugged- he could hardly think, let alone say, the word- and the current situation in that moment. Was he taken to ER when they brought him in? Was he breathing? Did they have to use a defibrillator on him? Did they have to put him on a respirator at all? Will he make it?
In a brief moment from his subconscious ramblings, Nathan blinked twice and looked over at Conner, perhaps to say something or to seek some reassurance of sorts- he didn’t know. Rather than a concerned look returning his gaze, Conner was looking straight ahead at the road before him from the backseat, bobbing his head slightly. Nathan was almost annoyed by the sight. It was no secret that Conner aspires to be a big-named rapper, and somehow even in a time like this, he had a beat going on in his head.
They eventually arrived at the hospital and Nathan dashed to the front desk, asking for his love’s condition. A quick computer search and a phone call later, the receptionist told him and his friend to take a seat in the waiting area, informing them both that the doctor will be down with a report.
With the exception of a few stragglers and other late night drop-ins, it was basically Nathan and Conner seated together, waiting the time away. The receptionist said that the doctor would be there in about five minutes from the time she called him up, but unless if Nathan was mistaken, time felt like it was passing by a lot slower than 300 seconds. Nathan never bothered checking the time on his phone or on the clock on the waiting room, for none of that mattered when all he wanted was to see his love, right then and there.
Even still in the waiting room, Conner remained silent as his head continued to gently bob to the rap song forming in his head. Nathan made it visibly evident this time around that he was getting annoyed and irritated by that, when his head was already spinning with stress from the present situation.
“Digging the nighttime in the downtown hospital
Where paramedics and surgeons chill like it’s a 5-star hotel”
Conner had started rapping, and often when it’s a free verse, there’s no telling as to where he can go.
“Conner, not now,” Nathan said to him as urgently as possible. “This is not the time for this.”
Conner merely brushed his comments aside.
“You best be patient, for there’s no telling on what the patient can tell
As you’re stuck in the waiting room, waiting for them to get well”
Nathan held his head in distress as the rap continued. He was annoyed and stressed out all at the same time.
“I’d pull the cards, to get his ass released
But that’s outta my jurisdiction, it’s doctor’s orders, you see?”
Nathan’s eyes softened as he lifted his clutched hands away from his head as he continued to listen to the rap. He realized then that Conner was rapping about their present situation, and perhaps in the most thoughtful way possible.
“You may be wondering:
‘Is he there? Is he staying alive?’
Well let me tell you something brotha
You’re strong-ass lova is gonna be just fine”
And with that, Conner gave Nathan a comforting pat on the back. Nathan smiled a small smile at him, grateful for his words of comfort.
A few minutes later, the doctor finally showed up, and Nathan leaped from his seat with Conner accompanying him.
“How is he?” he immediately asked.
“Well, he has a minor concussion, a bruised rib, and other cuts and bruises as well,” the doctor said while glancing at his clipboard. “Other than that though, he is expected to make a full recovery and will be alright. We gave him a dose of painkillers and he’s sleeping it off now, but if you want, you can see him.”
Nathan sighed out of relief, thankful that his boyfriend is not on the brink of death after all. Conner smiled from behind and patted him on the shoulder.
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Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KL6T310
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