Vancouver-based writer and communications specialist Carlo Javier shares his stories about how he got into writing, both in journalism and then fiction: one that explores the relationship between people and technological devices and another that provides a critique on the holistic identity of Filipinos in Vancouver.
“I try to walk on days where it’s quiet so I can at least speak a story to myself or the idea for a story,” says Javier. “That’s actually a big process in my writing, but in terms of [inspiration] and ideas, they’re often very random. They happen out of nowhere.”
While Javier has only been writing fiction for about a year, his debut fictional piece Underground was picked up by Dark Helix Press, and he has already almost completed his next fictional work, tentatively titled Algorithm. For the Sampaguita Perspectives: A Celebration of Filipino-Canadian Writers event at the Vancouver Public Library on May 14, he will be reading an excerpt from this last work.
Writing origins and process
In high school Javier would have likely chosen basketball over writing any day. He took journalism in order to work on his English and writing skills, with little intention of pursuing writing as a serious career. However, soon after he began working for the Capilano Courier and during his studies at Capilano University and began to make a legitimate income, it wasn’t long until he became fixated on honing his craft. Encouraged also by professor Kim Stewart’s championing of the concept of métissage (the Latin word for the weaving of a cloth from different fibres), Javier decided not to follow the traditional format of an academic essay for his thesis.
“Métissage is about combining your experiences with academia. So it’s a lot of first person; a lot of speaking from memories. But again [while] using the research that you’ve found,” explains Javier, “I did my thesis on the racialization of Filipinos in Canada and how the live-in caregiver program kind of impacted Filipino Canadians on two levels. It indirectly led to a rise of population of Filipinos in Canada, and it also created a stereotype about Filipinos in Canada, the stereotype that they are cleaners and helpers.”
Challenging Filipino stereotypes
Having already carved a path for himself as a journalist, Javier says it was actually Filipino Canadian writer Vincent Ternida and his book The Seven Muses of Harry Salcedo that inspired him to try his own hand in writing fiction. Javier’s own short story Underground is a fantasy story about Filipino house cleaners who happen to also cleanup for underground criminals. It is likely to be released this fall of 2019 under Dark Helix Press.
“This is my first [piece of fiction]. The character is not so much based on me, but the character is Filipino. It’s a critique on holistic identity of Filipinos in Vancouver.”
Relationships with people and devices
Tying together both his personal hardships and the knowledge he acquired from his recent work with the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Javier says his next fictional piece hits even closer to home. It weaves together themes of relationships and heartbreak with a wider reflection on how technology, algorithms, data, and artificial intelligence have become heavily woven into our daily lives.
“Honestly, the story is based on a very recent breakup from a long relationship. An important thing to note is that the character is Filipino but it’s not a theme; he just happens to be [Filipino],” says Javier. “That’s one of the things I want to do moving forward if I continue writing; I don’t want it to always be about race, but I do want to have a sense of representation.”
He doesn’t want the character’s race to carry the bulk of characterizaton, but their culture remain present.
Javier’s work comes from a genuinely personal place. In addition, it reaches out into the great algorithmic unknown of the future and asks, what will be next?
For more information on Carlo Javier, please visit www.carlomjavier.wordpress.com