An Interview With Charles A. Tan (Part One)
In March of this year, I was lucky enough to sit down to dinner with speculative fiction writer, blogger, and scholar Charles A. Tan (known to those of us at RSF as “Charle Satan”). Family business necessitated a trip to the Philippines, and meeting up with Charles was a highlight of my trip.
Charles and I met up at Shangri-La Plaza (link: http://www.shangrila-plaza.com/ ), which is the sort of mall where you can drink a Starbucks coffee and shop for Louis Vuitton luggage while a pair of half-starved teenagers repair your laptop and hack your blackmarket GPS in the carpark. While this isn’t representative of the Philippines as a whole, this yuppy-cyberpunk fusion is very much representative of what could be the future of the Philippines.
Charles’ excellent blog is at http://charles-tan.blogspot.com/, where you can read more about the upcoming Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler #6.
So tell us, how did you become Asia’s best-known spec-fic fan and blogger?
Well, I am the ‘whole geek package’, so it is only natural. I love the novels, movies, comics, and gaming. I started blogging in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I started focusing on genre work. It was, probably 2008 that I started doing interviews—that was when Wizards of the Coast started its “Discovery Series”, and I was very interested. J.M. McDermott was the first person that I interviewed, and from that point I started approaching new artists and writers if I could interview them, and help promote them.
What was your first interview like?
It was mostly email. Even a few months before then, he was already talking to me about his work. He was not yet an established writer, this was just after “The Last Dragon” (link http://www.amazon.com/Last-Dragon-Discoveries-J-M-McDermott/dp/0786948574 ), his debut work, so it wasn’t really intimidating. He was telling me that Jeff VandeMeer was planning to feature him for his Omnivoracious blog at Amazon (link http://www.omnivoracious.com/2008/02/a-brilliant-new.html). It was fun. I do all my interviews by email, because it would take too long to write all this down [mocking laughter, no doubt at my dictaphone].
How out of place have you felt in the Philippines, being the “whole geek package”, with science fiction still a developing art form here?
Well, it depends. In high school, for me, I was out-of-place because not a lot of people were into “geek stuff”. I only found out later on that there were a lot of people into “my kind of books” [laughs]. With the rise of the internet, it has been much easier to find people with common bond, and that’s why I started my blog to find people who share the same interests as me.
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