Sunday, November 25, 2007

dinner with dream

Sunday evening, with Neil Gaiman as special guest, Fully Booked announced the winners of the prose and comics competition for the year. I was there with my co-judge Tony Perez (the third judge, Peque Gallaga, was out of town). After the deliberations, we were happy with all of our choices for prose.

I was delighted to be a judge because of my love for speculative fiction, and glad that all three of us judges agreed on the winners. It is icing on the cake for me that three of the four winners are all appearing in Philippine Speculative Fiction III (the launch, by the way, is on December 8, 4PM, at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street – at the theater in the basement; you are most definitely welcome to join the fun!).

Joseph Nacino took 1st prize and P100k with “Logovore”. 2nd prize was a tie: Ian Rosales Casocot, last year’s grand co-winner, with “The Sugilanon of Epifania’s Heartbreak”, and Yvette Tan for “The Bridge”. 3rd prize went to Erin Chupeco for “Juan Perez’s Corpse”.
Joseph Nacino
Ian Rosales Casocot

Yvette Tan

Andrew Drilon

In the comics category, judged by Leinil Yu, Arnold Arre and Jaime Daez, no award for 1st prize was given. Andrew Drilon took 2nd prize (which had all of us giddy and lightheaded). I wasn’t able to take down the names of the other winners (sorry) but I’m certain that the Fully Booked site has the official list. Congratulations to everyone!

During dinner with the winners, judges and the organizers, Neil graciously sat at our table (me, Nikki, Andrew, Ian, Joey, Mia, Huebert and friend) towards the end of the night and gamely answered all the questions I lobbed at him. Earlier on, I had some alone time with him and told him how wonderful it was to finally literally stand next to him – since our previous “sharing of space” was literary, when one of my stories appeared with one of his in the Datlow/Link & Grant Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (I know, I know, such a fanboy, but what can you do?).

He is a wonderful interview subject and peppered his answers with small anecdotes and much good humor. I asked him why he moved to the States (he and his family needed more room during the housing bubble in the UK + the weakening of the dollar + the appeal of the Addams Family-type house near his wife’s family in Minneapolis), what his writing process is like (work at it), how he shifts gears between the different types of fiction he writes and the audience he writes for (in the case of “The Sunbird” and the new graveyard story, just trust the story and find the audience later), how much a writer like him makes writing for comics (when he started with Sandman, it was US$50 per comic page, now he commands the top rate of the publisher plus 50%), stuff about Sandman, why he didn’t write more than one comic book title while he was at Vertigo (he’s a slow writer, taking one month to write each issue of Sandman; and he would rather do one thing very well than have more – but mediocre – output), what the structure of the new graveyard novel is (each chapter progresses two years) and so on.

He told us about how baby elephants are trained, how he develops stories for anthologies, how sometimes a story he’s written and sold (in this case to the BBC) is not as wonderful as he initially thought, how impressed is he with us Filipinos, how he is able to live off royalties, and more.

I told him about the state of spec fic in the country and how thankful we are for the support and encouragement of people like him. At the end of impromptu interview (when my guilt at hogging him from everyone else finally, finally, took hold), he said that we should come up with a really thick Year’s Best Fantasy, Scifi and Horror of the past several years.

“If I do this,” I asked him, “Will you write the foreword?”

“Yes,” he promised.

Okay, then. It will be so. Ian and I and maybe one more editor should do the trick.

What a great evening, more than making up for the uncommon stress of the previous week. It was wonderful seeing so many young writers and comic book folk again (the energy is infectious).

Oh, and to cap off the evening, Mia Tijam asked if I was aware that “Chasing Aurora” appeared in today's Sunday Inquirer Magazine. I wasn’t, but was happy anyway (on the way home, after frantic stops at various 7-11s, Mini Stops and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, I finally secured a copy).

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