Edward Jones and Budjette Tan: The Known and Supernatural World

by - 22:50

Last week, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a private get-together with Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones, an African-American author who has so far penned only three books but each has already set his writing career in stone. One in particular, The Known World, which nabbed for Jones the renowned Pulitzer, is a novel centered on the concept of black people owning black slaves. For the get-together, I was only able to read his anthology of short stories entitled All Aunt Hagar's Children (those invited were advised to read his works in order to pose questions, and we were each given a copy of one of his books, for free; I was astounded, because the anthology I received costs around P995 in National Bookstore - in all its matte, hardbound glory). I wasn't able to finish reading the novel, but what I read displays such an interesting style that reflects Southern American culture.

We were less than twenty in all at the get-together, a mixture of students and professors along with the author and his American guide, as well as Tony Perez, a Filipino author whose name I only came to hear within the confines of the dining room/ conference room where the get-together was held. I have to say, though, being in the presence of a Pulitzer Prize winner is absolutely unnerving; like I'm shaking hands with a senator for literature. I admit, though, I never heard of Edward Jones until I received the invitation to meet him, and neither did a lot of my classmates. 

Understandable, really, given Mr. Jones' unexpectedly lethargic character. 

It was amusing: his apparent brilliance for writing (he never experiences writer's block, nor does he care much about what people will think or expect of his work) is so natural to him, that he responds to questions in a nonchalant manner. A person asked him, for instance, whether the names he used in his novel (like Moses and Alice) were meaningful in any way and perhaps referential to famous religious or fictional figures (like biblical Moses and Wonderland's Alice), to which he replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world: "Oh, most of those names were picked at random."
It was fun asking him questions, though. I learned, in a nutshell, that:
  1. Before you write, you must have an ending already;
  2. The title is the least important thing (revelation!!);
  3. Adjectives and adverbs are not necessary to create emotion, and;
  4. Just chill, relax; it'll come to you.

Edward P. Jones was one of the authors featured during the second Manila International Literary Festival last November 16 to 18, celebrated at Ayala Museum, which my aunt was able to attend. She found Mr. Jones rather lackadaisical as well, but she was able to meet a handful of interesting authors, and one she happened to chance an encounter with was Budjette Tan, the storywriter of one my favorite graphic novel series: Trese.

Trese, set in contemporary Manila, revolves around the supernatural investigator Alexandra Trese, whose cases take her to the very depths of the Philippine paranormal world. It's such a good read!

I started reading Trese about a year ago, and I've been in love with it ever since. Budjette Tan's ideas are so fantastic, that, coupled with the crisp art of Kajo Baldisimo, your imagination is drastically tampered with (and your knowledge increases as well; I know more about Philippine folklore than I did before). I've never read Mr. Tan's other works, but you can see some of his hair-raising history in Trese. My aunt relayed that, as a baby, Mr. Tan was once unknowingly possessed by the spirit of an old man; and today, he writes his supernatural works in public places like Starbucks in order to avoid certain unwanted presences invading his working space. So scary!

I suppose I can attribute to his past experiences the fact that the storyline of Trese never fails to thrill me. I should really take the time to read his other literary works, however; I already fell into a positively giddy state after I was able to find and contact him through his DeviantArt site; he even graciously took the time to look through my own portfolio and drop a comment on one of my artworks. 

Then yesterday, lo and behold, my aunt presents me with a signed copy of the first Trese installment, addressed to me!!

I hope I can meet him myself in person some day; since one of my goals is to publish something penned in my own hand, I'd love to be able to hear some ideas from him. 

With that I conclude this rather lengthy blog post. I hope you have a pleasant day, dear reader!

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