PGS 2024 Q&A: Jillianne A. Santos

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Jillianne Santos is a dental medicine student from the University of the Philippines Manila. She started writing personal essays and short stories during the pandemic and is currently a freelance writer. She had her first short story entitled “Tulad ng Bulaklak sa mga Bitak ng Aspalto” published in 8Letters Circles Magazine Issue No.4, Vol. 1. Aside from writing, she also has an interest in Filipino writers. Some of her inspirations are the novel “;Ano” by Zero A.D., and the short story “Servando Magdamag” by Ricky Lee. 

Hi, Jillianne! So how does it feel to be published in Philippine Genre Stories?

I was so surprised to have my story “It’s Not Just Heterochromia” published in Philippine Genre Stories! 

When I saw a post that the Philippine Genre Stories was looking for submissions back in December 2023, I knew I had to get started on something. And writing about crime fiction was the last thing on my mind when I brainstormed about possible short story entries. 

Writing this crime fiction consisted of a lot of going back and forth because I wanted the crimes to be as realistic as possible. Overall, I was proud of how the story turned out!

And thank you for sending this story to PGS! How did the idea for  It’s Not Just Heterochromia” come about?

Around 2016, One of my professors mentioned that the author of my favorite novel “Smaller and Smaller Circles” F. H. Batacan used to study dentistry at the University of the Philippines Manila before transferring to Diliman. As a student in the College of Dentistry, a question (but more of a challenge, really) that lingered in my mind was “Can I publish something like that as well?” 

Eventually, I was fortunate to attend lectures and talks from esteemed professionals in forensic science. In my pathology class, Dr. Raquel Fortun lectured about environmental pathology and we even had a tour of her laboratory where she conducts her forensic investigations. Then, I was also lucky to attend a talk from a forensic dentist, Dr. EJ Guzman. I vividly remember him mentioning his post-graduate thesis about the incineration of dental materials and out of curiosity, I looked it up on different published journal platforms. 

These events led to the idea of writing a crime fiction short story and helped me construct the plot of “It’s Not Just Heterochromia.”

(F.H. Batacan has an online story published in PGS: Harvest. 🙂 )  And what’s the next writing project that you’re working on?

Currently, I am venturing into the world of comics. It is a bit more challenging to do storytelling with both pictures and words, but I do my best to learn new things and sharpen my skills!

Speaking of sharpening skills– what are you currently reading? It’s for what kind of readers? Please tell us more about it. 

My friends got me this book for my birthday. I am currently reading “The Quiet Ones,” a novel by Glenn Diaz. This is a well-crafted story about call center agents, their embezzlement, and a humorous view of the struggles in their workplace. 

As of this writing, I am still less than halfway through the book. But it is definitely something that I’d love to continue reading. I adore reading novels that revolve around the miserable reality. And the creativity, wit, and absurdness of the writer make this novel such an interesting story to digest.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of the novel after you’re done! And in Philippine Genre Stories, which among the published stories do you like the most so far? Why?

“The Part-time Apprentice” by Daniel C. de Guzman is my favorite so far. There would always be something interesting when seeing an age-old supernatural theme in a modern setting. What I liked most about this story is the idea of an exorcist randomly hopping on a bus and casually casting spells to free people from unseen demons. Such unsung heroes.

Daniel said something like it’s one of his best works so far and we’re happy you enjoyed it! And what tips can you share for aspiring storytellers out there?

Know what inspires you to write. I used to struggle to find an inspiration for my stories. However, as I weave some of my previous published works, I realized that inspiration can come from even the most forgettable thing you come across. Inspiration can be your closest friend, family, unforgettable memory, or something as far-fetched as your least favorite chore or a professor that you hate the most.

Thank you again so much, Jilliane, and we are happy to have you and your story as part of PGS 2024!

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