Micro-interview: Kenneth Yu

Kenneth Yu’s story “The Concierto Of Señor Lorenzo” appears in the fifth fiction issue of Innsmouth Free Press.

Kenneth is a writer from the Philippines. His work has seen print in his country’s various publications, including the Philippine ezines Usok and Best Of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009; in the anthologies Philippine Speculative Fiction IV and V; and on the Philippine fiction podcast site Pakinggan Pilipinas. One of his stories also placed 3rd in the Neil Gaiman-sponsored 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards in early 2010. Elsewhere, his stories have been accepted by The Town Drunk and AlienSkin, with another forthcoming in the print anthology D.O.A. from Blood Bound Books. He also won Fantasy Magazine‘s 2009 Halloween Flash Fiction contest.

IFP: How did you become interested in writing Mythos/Lovecraftian stories? What was the inspiration for your story?

KY: I hope you don’t mind if I respond to these two questions with one answer.

I’ve always enjoyed reading fiction and as a kid, my tastes gravitated to genre stories (horror, fantasy, science fiction, crime, detective, and mystery, etc.), until I eventually became an avid reader of pretty much anything.

I read my first Lovecraft anthology, “The Lurking Fear and Other Stories”, when I was still in high school. The cover of the book showed the front of a decrepit old house and from the broken pane of a ground-level window, a clawed and fanged face peeked out. How could a kid like me resist? I bought it from the bookstore right away and have since tried to read Lovecraft’s stories whenever I could find them. I humbly admit, though, that “The Concerto of Señor Lorenzo” is my first attempt at writing a Lovecraftian story. I never really tried before, mainly because I was unfamiliar with the New England setting most of his stories were set in.

Dunce that I am, I never thought of putting the Mythos into settings that I knew – as a sort of homage to Lovecraft – until I saw Innsmouth Free Press’ call for stories set in areas outside of New England via their Multiethnic issue. I submitted, and the editor and publisher promptly rejected my story for that issue, but thankfully, took it in for one of their regular issues. I’m still unclear as to why, but I’m not complaining. ;-P

One of the Lovecraft stories that remain memorable for me is “The Music of Erich Zann”. I wondered what would happen if Zann’s music could also be set with lyrics from another Lovecraft feature, Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon. I just speculated: what if there could be verses in that book that would go well with Zann’s compositions, and some lunatic musician decided to put it all together? And then I chose to set the whole story in my country, the Philippines, specifically in Intramuros, during the late-19th-century-to-the-early-20th.

Intramuros is a walled enclosure with cobbled streets surrounded by moats and built by the Spaniards when they occupied the country. It has been a place of political power, of residence for regular folks, of art and culture, of war, and of destruction. There are even rumours that during WWII, when the Japanese were fleeing the onslaught of the Americans trying to occupy Manila again, a Japanese general named ‘Yamashita’ buried his war spoils somewhere in the catacombs beneath Intramuros (Yes! It has catacombs!). My story is really just a brief exploration of what the madness of Lovecraft’s stories would be like in a Philippine setting that has a lot of stories of its own, and could actually inspire a lot of other stories in other genres.

IFP: If you were a Mythos monster or character, who would you be and why?

KY: Given my lengthy answer to the first two questions, I’m glad my answer here is short and easy: I’d be one of the minor characters, preferably not one of the victims going mad but possibly so, though I’d prefer to be the one running away as fast as I could as the Elder Ones rise from the depths!

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IFPMicro-interview: Kenneth Yu