A Literary Micro-Press

Author Spotlight – Justine Dimabayao

Justine Dimabayao

 is the author of the short story

BORN OF THE EARTH

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

justine headshot

Excerpt from:

BORN OF THE EARTH

The pebbled balustrade is cool against my hands, which look ghostly against the moonlight. The moon at the zenith is waxing–due to reach fullness by tomorrow. Like myself, my family’s vineyard–at least, what is left of it–is practically a ghost of its former self. The leaves have fallen, and the branches have shriveled up.

I close my eyes and inhale the nocturnal air. I could almost smell those fresh grapes as my family’s employees picked them bunch by bunch. Then I imagine daylight glowing through my eyelids as I oversee this vineyard myself.

Mama would have been proud. Or perhaps not–she was conventional, to say the least.

My family ran a vineyard in Cotnari, Bukovina, and we were considerably wealthy. Being the only daughter among seven children, I had little idea of what was to become of me. My mother was contented with having a man to support her and sons to follow their father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, I shared my brothers’ adventurous spirit.

Time and again, I would listen in the shadows of our mansion as my oldest brothers bragged about how many women they had taken and the youngest ones dreamed about going across the Carpathian Mountains to see the rest of Romania and if they could, cross the Black Sea and explore Constantinople before sailing into the Aegean.

Every other time, my mother would find me in the hallway leading to the bar and reprimand me, claiming that what I heard from my brothers was not meant for a lady’s ears. Often, she would pull me out of the dark and put me back in my bright bedroom. She would put me in front of the mirror and brush my luxuriant golden locks. In order to take my brothers’ ambitions off my head, she would praise my beauty and call it my greatest asset.

“You are lucky, Aranka,” she would tell me. “Most girls are happy to have one man running after them. But you will have many. You will be free to choose which one would make the best husband. He will provide for you, as your father has done for me. You will never have to work or worry. …”

My mother’s words were prophetic: as soon as I turned fifteen, boys of varying degrees of boldness offered me almost everything from love notes to jewelry in exchange for my attention and companionship. Having many suitors made me rather pleased with myself. For the first time, I truly acknowledged how beautiful I was. For once, my parents and the household servants weren’t the only ones telling me so. No matter how much I dreaded seeing myself as a wife doing nothing but admire her husband’s marvelous work, I liked being pampered. I delighted in being showered with gifts and compliments–by rich and handsome young men, no less.

In return, I did my best to be a respectable young lady. My mother taught me everything I needed to know about etiquette. Learning punctilious manners was exceedingly boring, but I practiced them all in my eagerness for favor. My father, on the other hand, valued intelligence as much as manners; he would instruct me to read one or two books every week. He would make me read everything from the Bible to Romantic novels. I found this activity surprisingly enjoyable. I liked reading anthologies of Slavic myths the most. Once or twice, when I would join my three youngest brothers in exploring the forest, I would imagine Rusalka waiting for us in muddy ponds, or the hauntingly beautiful Iele dancing among the trees. We were also careful not to stay out past sunset. Vampires were not easy to hide from; they were also talented shape-shifters; they could appear harmless or enticing if they pleased. They could appear as the mist settled on the forest floor, the shadows between the trees, or the bats hovering over our heads. READ MORE


 

Born April 16, 1988, Justine Dimabayao came into the world with a flair for the arts. An introverted bibliophile who grew up in an Air Base in the Philippines and was educated in a Catholic school, Justine was exposed to a wide array of reading materials. It was not until she saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula when she was 7 years old and read the movie’s source material when she was 13 that she became fond of vampires and the mythology surrounding them. Inspired by Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, Justine aspires to be a novelist.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Justine Dimabayao

Age: 25

Where are you from: Philippines

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

I’ve always been artistically inclined. I am lucky to belong in a family that encourages my penchant for the arts. The Catholic school I was educated in also encouraged my talents for drawing and writing. I was raised bilingual (English is the second language), and by the time I was in elementary school, I was among the best to express myself in English. I also love drawing and singing, and I’m also pretty good at both.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I’m currently working on my first novel. It’s been in progress since I was about 13 years old. I’m glad I didn’t hurry too much to get it published; it’s gone through several revisions at this point, each better than the last.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve had a good grasp at writing with good grammar in both English and Filipino by elementary school, but I didn’t know I can make a career out of writing until I was 11 or 12, when my best friend encouraged me to write Harry Potterfan fiction.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I decided to make an original works of fiction.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

“Born of the Earth” is actually part of a larger story telling the life of the blonde “bride” living with Count Dracula in his castle. It was initially my response to the whole Twilight craze, but when the pop culture obsession with vampire fiction died out on its own, it’s just simply my take on the vampire mythos and my expression for my love of vampire fiction.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t quite know how to describe my writing style. My writing style can shift slightly depending on the setting and/or the main character. However, I make it a point to strike a balance between simple and concise and elegant and elaborate.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I am fond of the version of vampirism where the new vampire literally rises from the grave, so I used that image in the story itself. “Born of the Earth” is also a reference to the main character’s name Aranka, which means “golden.” It comes from the same etymology (aurum) as the names Aurelius, Aurelio, and Aurelia. READ MORE

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