Every Wednesday until August, I'll have a special feature on the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards.
Michael R. Co tied for 1st-place in the 1st Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards. His short fiction has appeared in publications like Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 2 and The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories.
Tell us something about yourself.
I collect books. Most of my disposable income goes into buying books for my personal library. I have a wide range of interests, but I especially like quirky histories, exotic languages, and, of course, science fiction.
For the Generation Y crowd: I'm in my 30's, in a relationship, and looking for friends and activity partners.
How did you come up with the idea for your story?
The concept had been gestating for more than a decade. I was in college at the time. During a class discussion on science fiction, I proposed that the core of any sf story should be the concept (like "What if some guy wrote a math proof of God?") and its implications ("Will he go insane?" "Will the world blow up?" "Or will God try to stop him?"). I wanted to write a story about it, so I came up with a cool title: The God Equation.
I never got around to writing it because, well, I'm a lazy bum. But when the contest was announced, I realized I'm also a greedy bum. So I wrote the story.
What was the most challenging part of the competition?
Getting the story finished (and submitted) on time. I was still writing on the last day of submission. When my printer wouldn't work, I emailed the file to my girlfriend for printing. She called and said she didn't have enough paper (and the stores were already closed). So I drove to her place with extra paper. But as we were printing, the power went out. At that point, I gave up, went out, looked up into the night sky and wondered if this was punishment for writing about God's mysterious ways. Thankfully, the power came back after 15 minutes, and I submitted my entry before Fully Booked closed.
What was the coolest moment you experienced when you won the Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards?
Aside from Neil Gaiman describing my writing as "muscular" and getting hugs and kisses from my loved ones? I'd say it was when two people approached me after I came down from the stage. The first person was Wawi Navarroza, the hot vocalist of The Late Isabel, who asked me to sign her leather bound copy of The God Equation. Imagine that: she hand stitched it in real leather! I was really touched. I hope one day, when I'm like, world famous and all, she gets a good price for it at eBay. The second person was Chiles Samaniego who told me he posted a review of my story on his blog. It was a fantastic review, and he even called it "geek noir." I like the term.
What advice can you give to those participating in this year's competition?
I'll give three pieces of advice (to be taken with three crystals of sodium chloride):
1.) Write your story early and revise, revise, revise. After submitting my entry, I was found one or two grammatical errors which I hoped the judges wouldn't catch. And after I won, I still ended up revising the ending.
2.) Show your story to someone honest. I mean really honest. Did I mention honest? So if your boyfriend/girlfriend says "It's absolutely perfect!" he/she is probably cheating on you.
3.) On awards night, wear a nice shirt. Even if you don't win, you'll appear in a photo on someone's blog; you might as well look sharp.