There was something interesting and mysterious just by the title and cover of Chrissie Peria’s short story, The Last Night of Her Wake. I’ve been a fan of Peria’s romance work and for her to write something outside that familiar space is an exciting thing as a reader. Reading The Last Night of Her Wake further solidified my belief that Peria can do no wrong and her writing chops is the stuff of magic.
Peria sets the gloomy, melancholic mood right off the bat—it was the last night of Precious Joy Cunanan’s wake. There was much sadness at the passing of the young girl even as talks were rife as to the brutality of her untimely death. I loved how Peria made use of the kapre lore and intertwined it with a good dose of star-crossed lovers trope. I’ve been lamenting at the story’s short length, but in hindsight, Peria did the right decision to keep it short, sweet, and packed with feels to make you think about it for weeks. This story moved me to the point of incoherence, but still I do what I can to make sure people read it because FEELS, man, FEELS!
And speaking of story lengths, I had to ask Chrissie Peria some pressing questions after reading:
Of all the mythical creatures in our mythology to choose from, why the kapre?
Kapres have fascinated me since childhood, mostly due to the stories my grandmother would tell us about a kapre living in the camachile tree in our backyard. Her grandfather, she said, befriended the kapre and they would sometimes see the embers of a gigantic cigar from the second story window. I kept all those anecdotes with me. Drawing from that and additional research, the bare bones of the story eventually fleshed itself out.
You’ve previously written two romance novellas. How easy/challenging was it for you to shift your mindset to a different genre?
It wasn’t difficult because at that time, it was actually a welcome break. I was working on a romance that was proving to be unwieldy, so shifting to a totally different genre was refreshing and mentally rewarding. So the research, the planning, the plotting, and the actual writing felt like a fun diversion.
How did you prepare yourself to write such a heartbreaking and chilling story? Why was it too short? WHYYYYY????
From the start, I wanted it to be a short story. I didn’t want to draw it out. I wanted it to be a quick sucker punch that would leave the reader reeling. It ended that way because it felt like the logical end for me. There was no need to dwell—everything had been said and everyone had to move on.
Why take on local mythology? What makes it interesting for you as an author?
Philippine mythology is so rich and diverse. As a child, I thrived on the old stories: the legends, myths, tall tales, and urban legends. I remember leafing through the 1980s editions of Phoenix Publishing House’s reading textbooks—the ones by Maximo Ramos, and being spellbound. My cousins and I would watch Shake, Rattle and Roll I (shout out to Peque Gallaga’s Manananggal) whenever Todos Los Santos would come around and be scared shitless. I’d stay awake all night during sleepovers, imagining dwendes who wanted to kidnap me in the macopa tree at my cousin’s house. The nightmare fuel that scared me served to stretch the boundaries of my imagination.
Now that I’m much older and less of a scaredy cat, I actively seek out these old resources. Rereading these old tales doesn’t just reconnect me with my childhood, it also opens the possibility of retelling these old tales or refashioning them into new ones.
Do you plan on writing more speculative fiction? What can your readers expect from Chrissie Peria this 2016?
On the spec fic side, I’m planning another short story done in the same vein, with a different creature from Philippine lower mythology. The story is still in its early stages, so I’d rather not discuss it yet, but it’s another prominent creature that’s distinctly Pinoy. I’m also trying to get The Last Night of Her Wake published in a different format, but I need to cross my fingers on a release date for that.
About the Author
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.
Thank you to the lovely people of The Bookish Diaries Book Tours for organizing this tour. #StrangeLit Killer Seasons is available in Buqo for $0.99 / PhP45 for the entire duration of the blog tour, so do get your copy!