Elaine Castillo on America Is Not The Heart, writing, and diversity

I’ve been taking introversion to new levels this year, the but I’m glad I made an exception this weekend, because I got to meet Elaine Castillo, author of “America Is Not The Heart,” who was in Manila for the Philippine International Lit Fest, right in time for the release of her acclaimed debut novel.

So I’m outside of my hidey-hole (and back on my blog, yay!), with a story for ABS-CBN News (here: http://news.abs-cbn.com/life/04/23/18/millennial-fil-am-writer-elaine-castillo-releases-debut-novel), and the interview in full below.

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Postscript: You Write To Me, I’ll Write to You

Last year, the Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA), in partnership with the Philippine Board on Books for Young People  (PBBY), launched “You Write to Me, I’ll Write to You,” a manuscript critique initiative that aspires to motivate Filipino writers while assisting them to get their manuscript in shape and recognizing excellence in Asian writings.

A total of 6 entries (the brief synopses and opening pages of 6 manuscripts) were shortlisted to receive a review and written feedback from Barry Cunningham, discoverer of J.K. Rowling, and managing director of Chicken House UK.

Joel Donato Jacob’s manuscript, “Wing of the Locust” was deemed the most outstanding of all the entries and got the amazing opportunity of a full review from Mr. Cunningham and a Skype chat with the publishing legend.

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Meet Raketchick (+ planner giveaway!)

Calling all freelancers, meet Raketchick, the embodiment of “freelancing badassery.” I met Raketchick Karen Fernandez last month when she did a guesting for the Manila International Book Fair (with Anvil Publishing general manager Andrea Pasion-Flores), and found her kickass persona funny and relatable.

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The UK Diaries Part 2: Shakespeare


Of course, Shakespeare was on the itinerary. We’ve been Shakespeare lovers for most of our lives, way before our milk teeth grew out. Our school had an annual play production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream put on by the sixth graders (I played Snout / The Wall and was Props director when it was our turn, if you must know), and to this day, we can still recite long passages of the play from memory.

We hit two Shakespearean destinations for this trip: Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank in London, and Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

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Smaller and Smaller Circles (Interview + Giveaway)


It was in 2013 when I first encountered the crime-solving Jesuit Fr. Gus Saenz in the anthology “Manila Noir,” where he appears in the story “Comforter of the Afflicted.” Not that he needed further introduction. I was in college when I first heard of the novella “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” although I was not able to get ahold of a copy until the Manila Noir book signing, when I and a bunch of other bloggers quickly foraged through the bookstore shelves for copies when we found out F.H. Batacan was at the event.

I read “Smaller and Smaller Circles” shortly after that, and I thought it was a great character study. I also liked the way it explored the nature of humanity and what pushes people over the edge. And when the expanded novel came out, I was quite curious to see what changes were made to the original manuscript. I read it in preparation for yesterday’s book signing and I wasn’t disappointed – there’s a lot more meat to this expanded edition – and I was glad to revisit the novel once more.

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