First of all, my apologies for this interview being late. There was just a lot of things going on for the past few days and guh, okay, I’ll stop making excuses. Welcome to my (late) stop for the #StrangeLit #KillerSeasons blog tour!
I chose to interview author Chrissie Peria, author of The Last Night of Her Wake, for this stop, and here’s what her story is all about:
The Last Night of Her Wake
There is a wake in Sitio Lumawig.
A young woman, barely seventeen, left her hometown, only to return home in a wooden box.
Brutally murdered, there are no witnesses. Nobody knows what happened. When it happened. Or who did it.
All they know is that there was pain—so much pain in her passing.
As her father keeps vigil over her battered body, a single question keeps him company.
Who is to blame for his daughter’s death?
Buy the #KillerSeasons bundle on Buqo to read this story.
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Click on the Read More button for the interview.
Hi Chrissie, thank you very much for allowing me to do this (very informal) interview with you for the #StrangeLit #KillerSeasons blog tour. First of all, please introduce yourself in the most #StrangeLit-y way possible. (In other words, tell us about a Chrissie that could probably a character from an urban fantasy/paranormal book.)
She sits in the dark, squinting in the artificial glow of the computer monitor. She taps on the keyboard, word per word, fueled by coffee as dark and murky as the sewers beneath the city. She waits for the words to shift, to take on a different form. It doesn’t always happen. But still she taps and waits.
Tell us your inspiration for The Last Night of Her Wake (TLNOHW). How did you come up with it and what was the process like?
The Last Night of Her Wake started with my fascination for kapres. I grew up with tales of my Lola’s Lolo befriending the kapre that lived in the camachile tree in our backyard. It felt like a good story to draw upon for the family-centered tale I wanted to tell. Process-wise, I figured out how I wanted to begin—the opening scene was so strong in my mind—and the ending soon followed. To flesh out the rest of the story, I did a lot of research on the Kapre legends as well as on Filipino pamahiins. I also drew a lot from my Lola’s own stories.
Interesting. I have heard of kapres and other laman-lupa stories from my father and other relatives too when I was younger, which was why TLNOHW left a familiar, though eerie, feeling in me. When you were younger, did you have your own strange experiences involving kapres or other supernatural beings in our midst?
Fortunately, because I’m a big scaredy cat, I’m on the dense side when it comes to supernatural occurrences. The only first hand experience I have was hearing a girl wailing from the windows of our classroom–four storeys up. I was the only one who heard it, despite being in a crowded classroom.
Aside from the kapre stories at our bahay kubo in the province, we had duende stories in our Manila apartment, but I never saw them. We were told that they were white duendes though, so it was nothing to worry about, although there were times when we’d miss things around the house, only to have them surface somewhere else. Of course, despite not seeing them, it never stopped me from imagining, so there were times when I’d sleep with a blanket over my head despite the sweltering heat, just to hide myself from unseen beings.
I can imagine! Even though there are a lot of urban legends involving ghosts that lurk in schools, it’s the provinces that have the most interesting and scary stories. I think that setting your story in that milieu really helped–it was easy for me to imagine Precious Joy’s town/neighborhood and whatever mysteries it held. What I didn’t expect was that plot twist! I mean, of course there was that bit of foreshadowing, but it really took me by surprise. So much that I had to pause and take everything in before finally finishing it. When you started writing this story, did you already have that ending in mind?
The start and end were there from the beginning. It started as a few snippets, mostly the opening scene at the Cunanan home. I knew what I wanted the main characters to do, so I knew how it would end. It was fleshing out the middle that took up more time as I researched and tried to figure out how things unfolded. But once the outline was there (a valuable lesson learned from #romanceclass), the story flowed and the words followed.
Two things were important to me when drafting this story: to give the ammalabi the attention he deserved, and to infuse as much culture as I can. I wanted to remind everyone of our pamahiins and traditions—the ones we forget as we get distracted by modern things, but are so fascinating to recall.
Of course, there was a lot of coffee involved, but what else is new?
What was your favorite thing about joining the #StrangeLit workshop and how did it help you finish your story?
The lessons and getting to write alongside other writers who were just as eager as I was to get something out. I joined #StrangeLit for the lectures–there was so much to learn from our respected mentors–but I have to admit, the motivation I got from interacting with my classmates (like you!) was the much needed push to the finish line.
Was this your first time writing a paranormal/urban fantasy piece? Would you venture into writing more stories like TLNOHW?
I dabbled in fantasy a few times in college, publishing a few stories in the university lit folio, but years of writing for a living made me take a break from fiction. I realized I missed it though, so I wrote The Goddess of Lost Things partly as a writing exercise, and partly as a way to jump start writing again.
For future stories, there’s another Philippine lower mythology-centric short story waiting in the wings. I’m hoping I get to write it soon.
Finally, please tell us what we can expect from you in the near future. Any new books in the works?
I am working on a sweet contemporary New Adult romance that I’m hoping to finish within the year, novella length most likely. On the spec fic front, we’re trying to get The Last Night of Her Wake out in a different format, but the release date depends on my collaborator. But I’m still crossing my fingers that it’s within the year.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Chrissie! We will surely be looking forward to new books to read from you~ ^_^
Special thanks to Bookish Diaries Book Tours for organizing this #StrangeLit blog tour. You may visit their website by clicking on the image below.
There’s one more #StrangeLit bundle left and it’s the #Incredible Truths bundle! The tour starts today (April 20) until the 27th! Stay tuned and track the #StrangeLit hashtag on Twitter to catch up with the updates. Thanks so much to all those who have read these bundles so far–I hope you also leave reviews/ratings on Goodreads!
When not obsessing over fictional people doing fictional things, Chrissie obsesses about food: the eating, the cooking, and the procuring of it.
An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking, and babysitting a tiny human and a curly-haired dog. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer.
Her first book, All’s Fair in Blog and War, was awarded Best Romance in English at the 2014 Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards.