An Interview with Isa Lorenzo
by Ann Fisher, Mud Season Review Fiction Co-Editor
I had to search and search to find the event I think this story is based on— a tragedy that took place in 2009 in Ampatuan, Philippines, where the wife and sisters of the mayor were attempting to file Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy. Fifty eight people were murdered on that day, including journalists and random motorists caught in the political violence. The hauntingly recent date and the difficulty with finding information made me think about the tangled themes of remembering and forgetting. Tell us a bit about your process with this piece.
I love writing historical fiction. A lot of my stories are based on a news article or a sentence that’s caught my attention, and then my writing flows from there. I’m also very interested in memory and how it affects present and future generations.
I started writing “Field” in 2012 and finished a first draft in 2013, but didn’t revise it until last year. I think I lost interest in it for a while, but I took a second look at it when I realized that I had enough stories to form a collection.
While I didn’t personally know any of the Ampatuan massacre victims, I used to work as a journalist, and I know how tiring and thankless this profession can be. The Ampatuan massacre also happened on my birthday, so it’s not something I’ll ever forget.
“There was a girl who loved to play in a field”
Why did you decide to center this event in the eyes of a ten-year old?
I wanted to describe the massacre as tangentially as I could, without going into gory details, and I thought a child was the best narrator to do this. Children are able to grasp horror from a very young age, but they can have a limited understanding of it because they don’t yet have an adult’s sensibility.
What do you hope your readers take away from “Field”?
I hope that readers are able to feel the horror of a massacre, as well as understand that life goes on, even after extremely traumatic events.
Tell us a bit about your writing and publishing process.
My stories are usually inspired by images or sentences that are seared into my mind, while my novels are inspired by concepts that I find fascinating.
I have another short story forthcoming in a local publication, but “Field” will be my first international publication since 2014, so I’m very excited to see it in print.
This year, I’ve made it a goal to get 100 rejections. While I don’t think I’ll reach that number, I’m happy that it’s spurred me to send out more of my writing.
Where do you find inspiration for your work, and what supports your writing life?
I get a lot of my inspiration from reading the newspaper. I keep text documents of story ideas and images, and am constantly on the lookout for good lines and descriptions whenever I read. I also make sure to note these down, and I often turn to them whenever I’m stuck.
I also follow Julia Cameron’s maxim to write morning pages every day, even if it’s just a single page, and to go on a solo artist date for at least two hours once a week to fill my creative well. I do take breaks, but I feel like something’s missing when I don’t do my morning pages or go on a weekly artist’s date.
What other pieces are you currently working on?
Right now I’m revising my first short story collection, which includes this piece. After revising The Largest Pearl and Other Stories and sending it out, I plan to revise my two novels.
How did you find Mud Season Review?
Probably from Erika Dreifus’ monthly newsletter of writing opportunities or Erica Verillo’s monthly roundup of open publications. I read multiple issues of Mud Season Review and thought that “Field” could be a good fit.