Storyteller Mabek Kawsek recently launched her first crime fiction novel, GOOD DOG, at National Book Store, Shangri-La Plaza last Saturday, August 10, 2019. And, I’m delighted to celebrate its publication by welcoming Mabek Kawsek to Alys in Bookland to talk about her debut crime novel!
Title: Good Dog
Author: Mabek Kawsek
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Publication Date: August 10, 2019
Genre(s): Women’s Fiction, Crime Fiction
Every happy family has a terrible secret.
Agnes Tan-Lim has it all: Victor, her devoted husband; Sophia, her loving daughter; and her thriving business. Then she receives a phone call from her daughter’s kidnapper. Now, Agnes must quell her panic and rush to get Sophia back. But Sophia’s kidnapping is just the beginning of a series of events that will cause Agnes’s seemingly perfect life to come crashing down, forcing her to face the truth that she has always refused to believe.
Far from the rich Tsinoy suburbs of Agnes, Marlene Ong sits in her tiny apartment, badgered by supernatural visions—a chorus of ghosts, a skyway built on a secret, a specter calling out to her husband. She won’t leave Marlene alone until her body is found.
Two women whose lives get increasingly tangled realize that the mysteries they must solve are part of a more sinister plot.
Good Dog reveals a Tsinoy businesswoman trapped in tradition, made to confront an unexpected monster.
About the Author:
Mabek Kawsek is a storyteller who grew up observing several kinds of culture: the Southern Chinese culture of her father, the Northern Chinese culture of her mother, and the Filipino culture outside her home. She published her first story collection Afraid to be Chinese in 2006 and has contributed stories to several anthologies. Her first novel, Good Dog, reveals stigma and dangers that Tsinoy women encounter through crime fiction.
Being a bookworm myself, I know it would be a very rare opportunity to meet authors and to be invited in a book launch by the publisher and its partner for the event. It was my first time to interview an author in person, and I’m thankful for the chance to meet a lovely and cheerful woman. I’ve learned a few things from her during our short chat.
As I’ve said, I had the chance to have a one-on-one interview with Mabek Kawsek before the start of the event, and you can read our conversation below.
Alys: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about GOOD DOG! I’m thrilled to share this Q&As with my readers. To kick things off, could you tell us a bit about GOOD DOG?
Mabek: Do you want to know the story na?
Alys: No [po] haha! How about giving three words that will describe the story in Good Dog?
Mabek: Oh, okay! First, there’s the INVESTIGATION, and then the SECRET, and the FANTASTIC — the three elements of the book.
Alys: Can you share with us a bit about the moment when the idea for GOOD DOG first popped into your head? Was it an idea that came to you all at once, or did different pieces of the story come to you over time?
Mabek: The different pieces of story came to me over a period of time. Definitely, Good Dog was a short story I wrote for a class in UP when I was doing my master’s degree, and then it was a vision of a boy washing the feet of his father, and then the father calls him Gŏu, Gŏu that means little dog, little dog. And then I did the story of that vision, and Butch Dalisay came to me, my title then was different, and he said I know the title of that story, call it Good Dog.
AIB: Good Dog features a cast of compelling women, from Agnes Tan-Lim to Marlene Ong. Do you recognize yourself in any of them? Are they inspired by anyone you know in particular?
Mabek: Of course, some of my self is in them, but not all. Some of them are of women that I knew who went through a lot also and who actually came out of it just by believing and by not quitting on what they want to do.
AIB: Good Dog also has an element of ghosts, and Marlene Ong can see them. Can you share a bit how you conceived of her having this vision because I’m curious why you incorporated a supernatural element into your crime novel?
Mabek: I’m gonna ask you a question. Do you believe in angels?
Mabek: Isn’t that something supernatural?
Alys: Yes po.
Mabek: Yes, it is. It’s on the supernatural too, right? So, I guess in our lives, if I don’t put in anything that is on the fantastic, then that will be our culture. We believe in saints. We believe in angels. We believe in [manghuhula] who would tell me who’s my next boyfriend going to be, right? Or the manghuhula who will say “oh you would earn money tomorrow or whatever.” We believe in that. And that belief alone is a fantastic, and that is within our culture. When I don’t put it down. [wala]. It was just like an American novel that doesn’t have anything on the fantastic.
Alys: Speaking of writing – could you share with us a bit about your writing process? Do you have any particular writing habits or processes that you always adhere to?
Mabek: Writing Process. Ah, my writing process will be walking in the malls, doing a window shopping and sometimes a color would say, oh okay, sometimes our color would make me think about something. Sometimes, when I speak to the saleslady, they can say something. Oh, that’s what I wanted. That’s what I’m looking for in it, and it just triggers a whole paragraph, or it triggers a whole scene in my head. And that’s where I come off with scenes. Would anybody I speak with, it’s like even, even when in a restaurant, I’m eating there, and somebody’s speaking [maingay] sa likod ko, and I just listen. I just listen to her being maingay and watch her making [kwento]. And I said, [oh ganoon pala ‘yon], so I’ll use that. *laughs* I eavesdrop. On any material I can find, even eavesdropping, I use it.
Alys: Are you working on your next novel?
Mabek: Yeah, I’m working on something, but it is a secret.
Alys: For the last one, do you have any messages for all the readers out there?
Mabek: Writing the story brings in hope. Hope that crime against a people of all culture in the Philippines gets resolved at least in fiction. It is my wish that this book will begin a conversation on how we talk about crime and violence in our society.
Alys: Many thanks, Ms. Mabek for taking the time to answer my questions, and to your publisher for facilitating this Q&A. Congratulations din po!
Assume that there are a few words or sentences that I might have omitted during the process of transcribing the audio, but I tried my best to write everything the author had answer during the interview.
GOOD DOG is already out now, and you can grab a paperback copy of her book for only P395 in National Book Store, NBS Express, and Powerbooks branches nationwide and online on www.nationalbookstore.com and www.anvilpublishing.com.
Again, thank you to Mabek Kawsek for the time she spends on chatting with me about her book. Thank you too for Ms. Paula for inviting me to this event. Thank you also Anvil Publishing and National Book Store for a successful book launch event of Good Dog by Mabek Kawsek!