Today I am interviewing Isabel Yap, author of the new short-fiction collection, Never Have I Ever.
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DJ: Hi Isabel! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Isabel Yap: Hi! Thanks for having me. My name is Isa; I’m a writer from the Philippines. I started going by Isabel when I moved to the US, which is a decade ago now–mostly because when I introduced myself I would sometimes get, “Oh, Lisa?” as a response. I write fiction and poetry, I’m trying to learn how to write novels, and I work in the tech industry as a product manager. I like fanfic, manga, museums, places with lots of trees, and sweets of almost any kind.
DJ: What is Never Have I Ever about?
Isabel: Never Have I Ever is my debut short story collection. It collects stories written between 2011 and 2020, which span the genres of contemporary fantasy, near-future science fiction, horror, epic fantasy, and fabulism. It’s about being Filipino, so faith, food, and family are significant themes. It’s about grief and loss, the awkwardness of your twenties, and several different types of monsters, some who are friendly, some who are girls, some who are both.
DJ: Being an author, what do you believe makes a good short-story? How does it differ from wiring novel-length stories?
Isabel: I still don’t know how to write novel-length stories, though I’ve been trying with varying degrees of seriousness since at least 2005. Writing novels is extremely difficult, and I basically take Kelly Link’s cheeky view that novelists who say short stories are harder to write are lying. I’m really not one to ask for a comparison, having only managed one of those lengths so far. As for what makes a story good, there are specific things I care about: I like some attention to the line, I appreciate resonance, and I love it when I’m either surprised or my expectations are met exactly. I like when stories give me physical sensations. There are certain relationship arcs that are totally my jam, that will be easy for me to fall into; but I can be convinced to like almost anything if the execution delights me in some way. In the end I think what makes a good story–no matter the length–is that, at its core, it’s about something real. I want to feel that the author crafted it thoughtfully, trying to get that realness across. In its bones it has to have truth, whatever that means for the author and the eventual reader. Continue reading