A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH AN EXCITING WRITER
TODAY’S QUIZ IS WITH ONE OF THE BEST YOUNG SHORT STORY WRITERS ON THE PLANET– ANGELO LORENZO
1.) Who’s your favorite short story writer living or dead?
AL: I have to admit that before I got engaged with short stories, I’ve spent my early years as an avid reader by getting immersed in novels. When it comes to fiction, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and George R.R. Martin would definitely come to mind. While Lewis and Tolkien made it to my reading lists when I was in elementary and high school, King and Martin helped me with style and voice when I got serious with writing in college.
But for short stories, I must say Edgar Allan Poe would be one in the list. Horror and dark tales have their ways of engaging the reader. Poe, regardless of his personal life, innovated literature by shortening the narrative form and hooking the reader with terrifying imagery. “The Masque of the Red Death” is one of my favorites.
In the local literary scene, I have been following the works of Nick Joaquin, Dean Francis Alfar, and Elena Paulma. Joaquin has been one of the most recognized Filipino writers because of the socio-political issues he depicted in his short stories. While he may have passed on, universities still study his works. Alfar, on the other hand, has written short stories which can be categorized under the genres that I love – magical realism and fantasy. Paulma underscores women empowerment with her characters. She keeps classical themes of family and love in contemporary setting.
2.) Why did you become a writer?
AL: When I was 11, my mother took me and my sister to watch the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was amazed by the story, as well as its allegory. I remember obsessing over the series since then. I read the books, got introduced to fantasy, and then started reading other books. I think it was at that time when I started dreaming of becoming a writer someday. I wanted to explore further the kind of worlds that Lewis, Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, Christopher Paolini, and J.K. Rowling created.
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I started getting serious about writing. I wrote a couple of drafts, self-published them online, and also practiced translating my idea into words. I took advantage of the knowledge I gained while in college to hone this skill, especially when it comes to writing with structure. I majored in Development Journalism, and the program made me familiar with the discipline.
Currently, I am taking my Master’s Degree in Literature. Reading and writing will always be a part of me, and I think that’s a good thing. Nothing compares to the feeling of fulfillment once a writer completes a manuscript or makes worlds out of words. After all, I believe everyone is creative. The medium which we prefer to showcase our creativity makes the difference. I think it was Elizabeth Gilbert who introduced me to this idea after reading her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Also, I write because I feel good doing it, and I feel accomplished every time I finish what I’m writing.
3.) Can writers be pop stars?
AL: Taylor Swift, I believe, is a great writer. Her songs made her a sensational pop star in this generation. The same goes with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Karen Carpenter, Patti Smith, and the many names in the constellation of music.
But when it comes to art in the written format (or literature in general), I think writers can definitely be pop stars. However, the work matters before the name. Genuine artists focus on the craft before anything else. Fame, reputation, recognition and wealth may be side effects, but these should not be the end-result or the main objective. Art is not about hoarding attention or money. These may come or these may not. But what every writer should keep in mind is that their craft is their outlet to deliver their message. These messages may inspire, disturb, reflect, frighten, encourage, motivate, etc. And whether these would spark attention or generate income, that’s for the odds to decide. The value of the craft – and in the case of writers, writing – should always come first.