“Four of the fourteen short stories are set in Thailand, the very country where the New Asian Writing project is based.” – Interview with Declan O’Sullivan

Declan O’Sullivan is a 43 year old Bangkok-based Irish editor. He has been living and working in Thailand since 2005. He has published over 50 poems, including a collection of 12 in one anthology. He has gained a PhD in international human rights, an MPhil. degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and has published over 20 articles in academic journals. In this interview he talks about his involvement in editing The Rage of a New Ancestor2010 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology. http://www.new-asian-writing.com/

Voicu Mihnea Simandan: When did the New Asian Writing project begin?

Declan O’Sullivan: The New Asian Writing project was launched on January 1st, 2010 and has, since then, seen its ups and downs, with several changes of format and structure. However, we believe that this is an inherent part of any project that is set up from genuine passion of the heart and mind rather than being based on purely financial benefits.

VMS: The anthology starts with The Rage of a New Ancestor by Pranav S. Joshi from Singapore. Why have you chosen this short story to open the anthology?

DOS: Because we believe that it happens to hold the strength of the very message we would like to send out to our readers and writers alike. We feel that the phrase The Rage represents the energy of the anthology which is keen to promote the creation of brand new short story material, focusing on imaginative fiction. The last phrase, New Ancestor, implies that this new anthology will now set the ball rolling to eventually establish a secure home for some quality literary work in the genre of solid short story fiction, that has been written with a specifically Asian flavour, and placed in a meaningful and contemporary setting within that continent.

VMS: Who are the contributors?

DOS: Both native and non-native speakers of English language, from Indonesia, Singapore, India, Jordan, the United States of America, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Romania, and England have sent their contributions to the New Asian Writing anthology, thus bringing together distinct voices from a vast array of geographic locations.

VMS: Still, the Anthology is about “All Things Asian”!

DOS: Yes, all our writers have experienced, at one time or another, different parts of Asia and have returned to their writing desk full of desire to write about all things Asian. Their short stories are set in India, Jordan, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Nepal, North Korea, and Myanmar (Burma). We believe that it is an auspicious event for the first ever edition, where four of the fourteen short stories that are included are set in Thailand, the very country where the New Asian Writing project is based, and has recently emerged onto the world literary scene.

VMS: I found the short story about Myanmar especially evocative…

DOS: And it is! Based very loosely on the true story of when John Yettaw, an American citizen who swam across a lake to illegally visit Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma) in 2009, Island. House. by Phil Dodd from England is the story of a woman who lives in a house on an island and spends all her time in isolation trying to write while feeling detached from the nature around her. One day she has a visitor from across the lake who seems to bring an immediate change in the regular rhythms of her daily life. This tale is significantly symbolic, as it is published just one month after Aung San Suu Kyi herself, was finally released to be a free woman on November 13th, 2010, following her house arrest during 15 of the last 21 years in Myanmar, her country which is under the control of a military junta.

VMS: Compared to other anthologies, what makes The Rage of a New Ancestor special?

DOS: Most of the short stories in our anthology are littered with vocabulary from the local language where the stories take place and, although most of the meaning of these words can be understood from the given context in the text, we found it useful to put them together in glossaries that can be found at the beginning of each short story.

VMS: What does the job of an anthology editor entail?

DOS: My main task was to make sure that all the contributions followed the same linguistic standards. I tried immensely not to directly interfere with each writer’s specific and personal literary style. It was not an easy job, but eventually the dialogue between the writer and the editor created very fruitful results which you can witness as the reader, between the front and back covers of our anthology.

VMS: The anthology is beautifully illustrated with art work by Katherine Jones. Can you give us a few details about her?

DOS: Sure! Katherine is a 30 year old Bangkok-based Thai-British artist who has had a fulfilling life as an artist throughout Asia. She was born in Thailand but grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong, where she did most of her schooling. In 1998, she moved back to Bangkok where she has been living ever since. She has done a variety of jobs in the past 11 years, from teaching kindergarten, to opening a casting agency, to managing a night club, and to managing an art studio. You can check out her work by visiting her website at katartwork.com.

VMS: Will there be a 2011 New Asian Writing Anthology?

DOS: The short story series will continue this year with the second edition holding the title of the 2011 New Asian Writing Short Story Anthology and, as we receive new submissions, we will post them on our website page for your pleasure to read. So, if you are a lover of quality short story fiction, either as a reader or as a writer, then please get in touch with us and we will do our best to make your reading experience unforgettable – and also for your individual voice to be heard!

Read some of the short stories at www.new-asian-writing.com .

Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Romanian writer, freelance journalist and educator who has lived in Thailand since 2002. He has published three books of nonfiction, one book for children, and several short stories in different magazines, journals, and anthologies. He is now finalising his first novel, “The Buddha Head,” a historical thriller set in Thailand. He can be contacted at www.simandan.com.