Thank you to the INK: Literary Collective of the #Yale-NUS college for inviting me to lead a generative Speculative Fiction workshop last Sunday as part of the Words In Progress: Yale-NUS Manuscript Intensive Weekend 2019. I hope I was able to give all the participants a different perspective on fantastical fiction and how they could use its tropes and techniques to put a new spin on their writing.
The day before that (Saturday) I had joined Singapore Literature Prize Winner Melissa De Silva in doing a critical review of two of the manuscripts submitted to INK. All in all it was a weekend well spent at the Yale-NUS Writing Centre.
I had great fun last Saturday (2 March) sharing my writing process with class of mostly Junior College and University kids. This lecture/workshop was part of the Singapore Book Council’s Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab series, a year-round program consisting of talks, workshops and mentorships for writers between the ages of 13 and 25. .
The three-hour session was divided into a lecture portion on the history, importance and types of Science Fiction, an interactive session on story-writing basics, then a workshop where the students would produce a one to three sentence story or word-clump*. The best two of which would win prizes. Interestingly the oldest and the youngest of the participants won first and second prize respectively.
Here was my course outline:
1.What is Science Fiction?
2. Developing Science Fiction Ideas
3.Building A Story Structure –
Basic Plot Cheat Sheet
Setting, Viewpoints and Tense
Creating a Vibrant Narrative Voice
4. Getting Published
Marketing your work
Can you make money from SF Fiction?
5. Workshop Proper: Writing, Editing and Sharing (One Hour)
Thank you again to the Singapore Book Council (SBC) for inviting me. Please check out the rest of the Open: Singapore Young Writers Lab. Thank you also to everyone who took time from their Saturday afternoon to participate in our very lively session.
*n.b. This workshop was meant to introduce my writing process for Science Fiction rather than to produce a full short story. The goal was to teach participants how to develop an idea into a concrete flash fiction piece.
“…what is most striking is that these stories form a continuum of the Filipino diaspora from history into a hopeful future, investigating how separation has affected its members, and how in turn they have affected their host communities. This creates a deep and lingering connection between all the stories in the collection, through aspects of religion, language, time, and literature.”
Literary journalist, architect and P.H.D. student Sandro Lau, writes a great review of two short story collections — my book The Infinite Library And Other Stories, and This Is How You Walk On The Moon, a collection of Speculative Fiction edited by Patricia Karunungan, Samuel Caleb Wee and Wong Wen Pu. You can read the review here.
Singaporean writers, artists, and thinkers, living in Singapore and abroad were asked by the editors of Singapore Unbound for their favorite read of the year. Thank you to Singapore Literature Prize winner Ng Yi-Sheng for selecting my book.
Ng Yi-Sheng, poet, playwright, and fictionist. The Infinite Library and Other Stories by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2017). This may be the best collection of spec fic stories I’ve ever read by a Singapore-based author. The tales are wonderfully baroque, from a steampunk vision of Filipino national hero José Rizal at a naturist colony to a post-apocalyptic tale of a man cultivating crops and a digital transmitter in the world’s last library. Ocampo takes risks with form—stories are told with multiple endings, in the form of archaeological surveys and in SMS-speak—but manages to make all his tales share a single universe, with the same immortal characters and references (including the eponymous library) popping up in different plots. (I’m also intrigued by how Ocampo complicates our conceptions of Singaporean literature: he began writing in Singapore and is active in the local literary scene, but his fiction reflects his background as a cosmopolitan citizen of the Philippines. He’s got a south-south biculturalism thing going on, and it’s awesome.)
Coincidentally, my favorite Singaporean book of 2018 is Yi-Sheng’s exquisitely surreal Lion City Stories (Epigram, 2018).
The 2018 Singapore Writers Festival finally came to a close for me with this final reading and panel discussion: Chicken Rice and Adobo: What We Love about the Philippines and Singapore.
Increased trade and cultural exchanges between Singapore and the Philippines have led to shared experiences and stories in prose and poetry. This session continues a literary dialogue that has spawned joint anthologies and readings. Listen to the featured writers read excerpts of their works and join in the fellowship centered on what we love such as comfort food, cultural diversity and a good story.
The rain was pouring heavily abut somehow most of the speakers and the audience managed to make their way to the HideOut@Funan Showsuite, at the corner of Hill Street and High Street. Thank you to the free rain ponchos provided by the organizers!
The event last 11 November was meant to celebrate the literary dialogue born from the long cultural exchange between Singapore and the Philippines. Poet and Director of the Poetry Festival Singapore, Eric Tinsay Valles (A World in Transit) moderated the lively panel made up of poet Aaron Lee (Coastlands), novelist Claire Betita de Guzman (Miss Makeover), poet and essayist Lawrence Ypil (The Highest Hiding Place), poet, playwrite and poet Heng Siok Tian (Is My Body A Myth) and myself. Author and poet Felix Cheong (Singapore Siu Dai: The SG Conversation In A Cup) was unable to attend due to an illness.
This is an exceedingly late post on our #SWF2018 panel “Speculative Fiction as Moral Compass” last Saturday 10 November with Rachel Heng (The Suicide Club), Nuraliah Norasid (The Gatekeeper) and myself, with Khoo Sim Eng (who heads the Film Studies Minor at SUSS) as our intrepid moderator.
As you can see from the pictures, we had a very lively discussion talking about the role Speculative Fiction can play in talking about Ethics. This was the most well-attended Singapore Writers Festival event that I was a part of. The organizers had to open a second room to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd.
“From pursuing immortality to eradicating marginalization, speculative fiction reveals the deepest desires of humankind. How can the genre prompt readers to assess humanity’s moral progress, and to rethink what could be right or wrong? This panel brings together authors across science fiction and fantasy to discuss the potentialities of the genre.”
Pictures above courtesy of Khoo Sim Eng and husband.
We celebrated 10 issues of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction last 8 November at a retrospective panel sponsored by #BooksActually. The event was held at the sidelines of @SGwritersfest #SFW2018, and hosted by Michelle Martin of MONEY FM 89.3. Christina Sng and I were on the panel, along with founding editor Jason Erik Lundberg. In the audience were comics editor Adan Jimenez and several contributors such as Theo Melwani and Wayne Rée. Poetry editor Kristine Ong Muslim could not be around (but was definitely there in spirit).
With our favorite LONTAR covers (L-R) Michelle Martin holds a copy of Vol 6; Christina Sng picked Vol 5; me with Vol 9, and Jason with Vol 10. The cover of Volume 6 illustrates my story “Brother To Space, Sister To Time” while Volume 9 featured another of my stories “Father Is The Blood, Mother Is The Wine”.
Michelle introducing Christina.
Shortly after Christina talked about pontianaks, this ghostly bride appeared above us.
With New York based writers Ellie Rhymer and Manish “Theoretical Starchild” Melwani (who contributed “The Tigers of Bengal” in issue #7 and “Sejarah Larangan; or, “The Forbidden History of Old Singapura” in issue #10).