We talk to Eliza Victoria (whose poems appeared in issue #34) about her writing and publishing.
Your work has quite a dream-like, mystical quality to it, and I notice that hints of myth, magic and imagination appear often in the summaries of your books. What themes would you say preoccupy you the most?
I am very interested in exploring the capacity of humans to commit the extremes of goodness and ruthlessness. So I write about death and violence, crime and grief and loss. I write about forgiveness. I write about dreams, where senses are heightened and the absurd becomes the norm, and where, as a writer, you get access to surprising imagery. I write about horror and magic in the mundane.
A fellow writer has described my poems as having “menacing shadows flickering just past the filigree“.
I notice that some of your books are placed with publishers and some are self-published. Which route do you prefer, and why?
Two of my books have been self-published as an experiment. One is a small collection of poems that I don’t think any of the traditional publishers here would pick up (they usually go for full poetry collections); the other is a collection of dark fictions, some with adult themes that I’d rather edit and release on my own terms. I am lucky to know two great artists – Adam David and Biboy Royong – who designed my covers for free, and I’m lucky to have interested readers.
I would, however, still go the traditional route, because the publisher takes care of everything. My books appear on bookshelves all over the country without my having to lift a finger.
The route I take will really depend on the work and my publication goals.
On a similar note, you release your books DRM-free where possible, and flag up outlets which apply DRM to your content. What are your thoughts about DRM?
I buy a lot of books for my Kindle app via Amazon. Purchase and download is quick, so I don’t mind that the eBooks they sell have DRM and are exclusive to the Kindle. I also love that the Kindle app in my phone and the Kindle app on my computer can be synched, so I can still read during lunch break at work without having to bother with bookmarks.
I’ve had experience with buying content with DRM from an online vendor with a wonky system, so that gave me pain, and made me wish they just did away with DRM and allowed me to download the EPUB to my computer.
DRM ostensibly is there to discourage piracy and copying, but if it’s making buying the book a pain for readers, I’d rather my books be DRM-free.
For readers elsewhere in the world, could you give an idea of what the literary community is like in the Phillipines?
Small, and so is the publishing community. It’s so small literary agents are nonexistent here, and most published work comes from unsolicited manuscripts. We earn peanuts for our work (royalties are at 10% and there are no advances – I think I would throw a party if a publisher ever gave me an advance), but we write anyway because we are all crazy.
Is your work available anywhere else online? How should readers who want to keep up with your work follow you?
Visit my online home at elizavictoria.com. I have pages there featuring links to my work – short stories, poetry, some essays, and my books.
Eliza Victoria is the author of Lower Myths (Flipside Publishing, 2012), The Viewless Dark (Flipside Publishing, 2012), and the short story collection A Bottle of Storm Clouds (Visprint, 2012). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications in the Philippines and elsewhere. For more information, visit elizavictoria.com.