The Next Big Thing | Rachelle Cruz, G. Justin Hulog, Jennifer Derilo, Lystra Aranal, and Marcus Lund





Ah! So when the witty and widely talented Rashaan Alexis Meneses (who’s en route to a MacDowell fellowship!) tagged me in this “The Next Big Thing” series, I immediately blushed and was mortified. Me? A big thing? Never. My writing is still in an indelible infancy stage… and what can I say? It’s crap.

But self-deprecation aside, I feel bad for doing this late and I’m incredibly honored to be tagged.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Another writer friend and mentor, Barbara Jane Reyes, recently shared the film on her FB and asked who said this:

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

I guess this is how I feel right now, in terms of my writing. It’s nowhere near I want it to be. But, though I re-realize this time and time again, I know “a creative person is never satisfied by their creation, [and needs to] prepare to be perpetually dissatisfied and to feed off your dissatisfaction.”

With that, I’ll start. (:

1. What is the working title of your book?

I’ve been working on several short stories and want to weave them into a collection I’m tentatively calling, “The Salt in the Snails.”

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
From the gut. Mostly from family and friends. Though I write fiction, I write with an emotional urgency that’s affected and influenced by the people who fill and surround my life. Also, my lola’s story is so compelling and haunting I can’t get away from it.

3. What is the genre of the book?


4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea! They’d definitely have to be Filipino.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Work-in-progress. <– stealing from Rashaan. But really, it’s a book that obsesses about escapism and desperation.

6. Who is publishing your book?

One day, someone will… Hopefully.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

My first story in the collection (which is set to be published by Kweli Journal this month! Yay!) has taken me two years to write… and I’m not even quite sure if it’s finished it. I sent it to an anthology contest (which I shouldn’t have because it’s an anthology for only immigrant writers / not second generation), and Ursula Hegi responded back personally and said, “We appreciate the chance to read it. […] We wish you the best with your writing. It’s very strong.” So, hopefully that means that this story is almost finished. And, I don’t know how long it’s going to take me for this manuscript. I’m hoping at the end of my MFA program (June 2014), I’ll have a decent/solid manuscript of seven short stories.

8. What other works would you compare this book to within your genre?

I don’t know. But in a way, I’m borrowing a lot from Junot Díaz in This Is How Your Lose Her. Two stories are heavily about the aftermath of an affair, and I’m definitely trying the second-person narrative bit. I’m also influenced by the heavy amount of books I read, so… I don’t know.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My family. Toni Morrison’s old adage: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” The Philippine diaspora and its tendencies toward escapism and desperation but also the unrelenting heart the Filipino body holds.

10. What else about your book/your writing might pique the reader’s interest?

One explanatory sentence: “The Salt in the Snails” explores loss—a sister pregnant at sixteen, two families becoming one through excitement and shame, and the sudden miscarriage (or abortion) that breaks them apart.




Now, to pay it forward: I’m expected to shed a light on five writers who I consider “The Next Big Thing,” and they are:

Rachelle Cruz

G. Justin Hulog

Jennifer Derilo

Lystra Aranal

Marcus Lund

Here’s to a new year of writing and recognition! Much appreciated. ❤





2 thoughts on “The Next Big Thing | Rachelle Cruz, G. Justin Hulog, Jennifer Derilo, Lystra Aranal, and Marcus Lund

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