Monday, August 6, 2012

Philippine Horror Stories for Young Adults

The team up of Kenneth Yu and Dean Alfar is at it again! They've come up with a horror anthology for young adult readers. While waiting for more promo materials and the book itself, here's an interview I had with Kyu about the anthology.

Zarah G:  Why a YA antho? And why horror, of all literary genres!

Kyu: We felt YA was an underserved market ready for its own stories and to be its own segment when serving readers. Though my original publication, Philippine Genre Stories (PGS), has a market that does fall under YA, it does not exclusively serve just that market. Dean's Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals are primarily aimed at adults, though it is open to the well-written YA submission. Our new series will be serving the YA market, to be an anthology for YA readers for this genre (though of course, if you're no longer a young adult but want to read YA stories, we're okay with that). As for why "horror", we thought it would be a good genre to start with, and if all goes well, we are hoping to have other YA anthologies for other genres.

ZG: What is the most challenging aspect you experienced in making the antho? Pls. substantiate your answer.

Kyu: We were very aware that our call for submissions was very drilled down. With PSF, the call was for speculative fiction stories for all reading levels. With PGS, it was the same: for genre stories also for all reading levels. For Horror: Filipino Fiction For Young Adults, we were calling for only horror stories for a YA reading market, meaning that there must be a YA main character in the story and that the issues dealt with in the story must also be of a YA nature. Our usual contributors were not necessarily YA authors, and we didn't know how many good stories we'd get. I'm happy to report we got a good number. Also, whenever there is editorial collaboration, there is always the possibility of clashing with each other's poetics or aesthetics. But our overlap (what makes a good story) and our differences (what makes a story work for us as individuals) created a good collaboration where we learned from each other.

ZG: What will readers discover when they read the antho?

Kyu: We're hoping that readers will find this anthology to be a good selection of tales that explore YA issues via the horror genre. We specifically stated some of these in our call for submissions: coming of age, identity, belonging, a sense of wonder, a love for adventure, angst, concerns over school, challenges of youth, family issues, relationships to authority figures, sexuality, experimentation, peer pressure, bullying, among many others. We were conscious of the issues being addressed in the tales, conscious of the characterization of the YA characters especially. If we're lucky, our readers will either identify with the characters in the stories, or at the least, come to an understanding of them, and perhaps see that human element in their fellow young adults in real life, and develop empathy for them. One could even consider that through these tales, they could take a step outward from themselves and learn more about and respect the "other". From my perspective, developing a new young reader for life would make me happy; from Dean's perspective, expanding a reader's horizons via genre would make him happy.

ZG: What makes this antho different from the ones you released in the past?

Kyu: It's the first anthology that we've ever released that is purely YA, so this is new territory for us. Though we read anything and everything, including YA, we knew that we were treading fresh ground. The PSF anthologies have published their fair share of horror; and PGS as well, which even released a special horror issue. But to go YA exclusively was, for us, unexplored turf. We hope we did well. Another difference, of course, is that this is the first time we are working together as editors, and the partnership worked out quite well. Our previous experience as editors had a huge impact, as roles such as those that fall under managing editor or line editor, fell into place organically.

ZG: Do you have a personal favorite from the collection? Why?

Kyu: Well, yes, we have our favorites, some of which overlap, and some of which don't, but every story matters to us. What is more important is that one of them becomes a reader's favorite!

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