THE LOUNGE CHAIR INTERVIEW: 10 QUESTIONS WITH Migs Bravo Dutt
Migs Bravo Dutt is a writer and researcher whose work has been published in several countries, regions, and cultures. Her short fiction has appeared in 22 New Asian Short Stories 2016 and Kitaab’s The Best Asian Short Stories 2018. She has contributed poetry to various anthologies and journals in Singapore, Asia, Croatia, and the USA. She has co-edited Get Lucky: An Anthology of Philippine and Singapore Writings and is the author of the novel, The Rosales House . In this interview, she tells us about her writing projects, philosophies of life and other exciting things from her writing journey so far.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?
I write to define myself, to measure time, and at this juncture, to stay sane.
Tell us about your most recent book or writing/editing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
I write mainly about women and with the worldview of women. My first novel, The Rosales House, was recently published by Penguin Random House SEA. It’s the story of Claire, a young Filipina advertising executive in Singapore, and her discovery that she’s a product of one of many scandals that beset her influential clan in the Philippines. It follows Claire in her search for the truth, an emotional and geographical journey that takes her to many parts of the globe.
Describe your writing aesthetic.
I’ve been fortunate to know multiple language perspectives, learn their uniqueness, and yet understand their unifying purpose. I grew up in the Philippines speaking dialects, Tagalog, and our brand of English. And now Singapore is my home, where languages have different notes. My writing training was mostly with UK-based outfits, including those organized by the British Council, Birkbeck College, and Curtis Brown Creative. All in all, I wish my writing aesthetic to be like the beauty of a diverse language.
Who are your favourite authors/screenwriters?
The list of my favourite authors (Proust is an all-time favourite) continues to expand and evolve, but of late I’ve been reading more work from Tessa Hadley and Deborah Levy. I’ve also just finished reading Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I had recommended to my 13-year-old daughter’s for her summer read.
What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.
I’ve tried my hand at sestina. Because of its form, it has inherent lyricism. Unfortunately, I haven’t completed any yet, but I’ll keep on trying.
What’s your idea of bliss?
Knowing that my family is safe and happy, either sleeping or watching a movie (that I don’t have to watch), while I’m at my desk writing or reading, and having my coffee of the day (I love single origin coffee beans from Bolivia or Colombia).
What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?
Injustice. And also bigotry and hypocrisy.
What books would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?
Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, all seven volumes.
Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you?
My ‘escape bag’, which contains my family’s travel documents and identification cards, credit cards, and my Leica M10. And if I have more time, I’ll also grab my Smythson journals, which contain deeply personal writings from the past ten years or so, and my first manuscript for it reminds me of the value of hard work.
Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.
I respect human rights, animal lives, and the environment, and therefore I do my best within my control to ensure we could all coexist equally and peacefully.
Read the Author Confessions by Migs Bravo Dutt to know the ten things she learned while writing her first novel and you can now grab a copy of her first book from Amazon.