Author Archives: Jason Erik Lundberg

About Jason Erik Lundberg

Author, editor, anthologist, sushi lover: Strange Mammals, Red Dot Irreal, BNSSS, Fish Eats Lion, Bo Bo and Cha Cha, etc. Founding Editor of LONTAR.

L10 interview with Dean Francis Alfar


LONTAR 10As part of the celebration for the release of the ebook version of LONTAR issue #10 at Weightless Books, we’re releasing three short interviews with some of our L10 contributors!

WB previously posted our interviews with Manish Melwani and Drewscape, and today we’ve got our third and final interview with award-winning novelist, fictionist, playwright and anthologist: Dean Francis Alfar! Here’s a taste:

Jason Erik Lundberg: Salamanca celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, with a reissue in the Philippines by Anvil Publishing and serialisation in LONTAR. What does the novel mean to you a decade on? Has your attitude to it changed in those ten years?

Dean Francis Alfar: Salamanca is very special because it came at a point in my writing life when I didn’t know if I had it in me to write a novel. I had written plays and short fiction but the prospect of tackling the novelistic space was daunting. Because I was able to write it—then have it win a prize, then get published, then still have legs ten years later—is very meaningful to me: it shows that fear, when conquered, has the potential to transform into something truly magical. It showed me that I shouldn’t be intimidated by something new, and this is a life lesson I have taken to heart.

Because the book has become required reading in some universities, I get notes from readers who are surprised that a novel written by one of their own countrymen could be moving and resonant. I’m always moved when new readers who’ve discovered the book reach out, inspired that if I could do something, then they could do something as well.

Read the full interview here!

You can still, of course, get your hands on the gorgeous physical print edition of L10.


L10 interview with Drewscape


LONTAR 10As part of the celebration for the release of the ebook version of LONTAR issue #10 at Weightless Books, we’re releasing three short interviews with some of our L10 contributors!

Last week, WB posted our first interview with Manish Melwani, and today we’ve got our second interview with graphic novelist and illustrator Drewscape. Here’s a taste:

Jason Erik Lundberg: “Rewire” uses as its premise the transformation of an android into a “real” woman who soon outgrows her creator’s programming, harkening back to My Fair Lady and even farther back to the myth of Pygmalion. What was it about this type of story that inspired you to put your science-fictional spin on it?

Drewscape: I usually get my inspiration from things I myself experience and also from trying to understand how others think. For this story, I wanted to tackle the issue of how, in a romantic relationship, we often try to change another person to suit our requirements, only to find that they really can’t change. However, in the end, I suspect that there is still some change that happens to us after going through that relationship.

Read the full interview here!

You can still, of course, get your hands on the gorgeous physical print edition of L10.

LONTAR #10 ebook available, plus interview with Manish Melwani


LONTAR 10LONTAR issue #10, our final, double-sized issue, is now available publicly in ebook format at Weightless Books! (Our Patreon patrons received theirs a month ago.) The physical print edition is a sight to behold, and wonderful to hold in your hands, but if you’re unable to get it, you can now own the ePub or Mobi version of the ebook for only $4.99!

And to celebrate the release, a new interview has been posted with Manish Melwani, whose “Sejarah Larangan; or, The Forbidden History of Old Singapura” is the lead-off story. Here’s a taste:

Jason Erik Lundberg: “Sejarah Larangan; or, The Forbidden History of Old Singapura” is a reimagining of a long-mythologised nation-building narrative in Singapore: how Sang Nila Utama, a Srivijaya prince from the Sumatran city of Palembang, named the country Singapura (or “Lion City”) after spotting what many now cite as a tiger upon making landfall. What was it about this myth that made you want to tell a “secret history” of the encounter?

Manish Melwani: Like most Singaporeans, I first learned that myth in primary school. It’s been fascinating to revisit it. The story is part of the Sejarah Melayu, or Malay Annals, which is a collection of regional legends. It contains some fantastic stories, including the tale of Badang, who is sort of a Malayan Hercules and a character in my version too.

After reading around the myth in books like Singapore: A Biography by Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea by John Miksic, and Between Two Oceans: A Military History of Singapore, edited by Malcolm Murfett, I was struck by a couple of things about Singapore’s ancient history.

Firstly, the archaeological evidence seems to suggest that Singapore was a trading port as far back as the 13th century. There’s a narrative that this only happened recently, or that it only happened when the British came, but Singapore’s location has always been well-placed for various local and regional maritime powers.

Secondly, the accounts are full of blanks and contradictions. There are multiple versions of the Sejarah Melayu, revised by king after king in order to legitimise their own rule. There are also interesting ways in which these legitimating stories tie into regional and global myths and histories. For example, various rulers in South and Southeast Asia claimed descent from Alexander the Great—including Sang Nila Utama.

I wanted to convey this palimpsest-sense of unreliable history and also to examine the relationship of fables and myths to power, while posing a new origin story or “secret history” of my own, one that incorporated the regional historical context. Weretigers show up a ton in the region’s mythology, and it seemed to come together into an elegant and compelling story premise: Sang Nila Utama lands on the island of Temasek, but it’s not a tiger he mistakes for a lion, it’s a weretiger.

Read the full interview here.

Extension of Patreon Deadline


The magic eyes compel you...As of right now, we have met our minimum goal at Patreon to print issue #10! Yay and huzzah! Thank you to all of our patrons, some of which are very generous, for making sure that LONTAR ends not with a whimper, but with a bang!

That said, we still want to be able to print the issue’s illustration by Sonny Liew and comic by Drewscape in full colour, which can only be achieved with our stretch goal of $4,000. And to that end, I am extending the pledge deadline one more week, to midnight SGT on 3 April 2018.

So if you’ve been unable to pledge until now, you have just over a week to make your money count. Most of the special $75 reward tiers have been snapped up, but two slots in the Irreal Level (where you can get a copy of the now-out-of-print first edition of my collection Red Dot Irreal) remain.

Please make your pledge by midnight SGT on 3 April 2018 to ensure that our contents are presented in their full glory!

One Last Time: Support for Our Final Issue


LONTAR needs your help one last time.

Just as with issue #9, the National Arts Council has declined to financially support issue #10 with a publication grant, meaning that we are on our own once more to raise the funds to even get the issue to print.

Y’all came through for us before, and I’ll need to ask for your generosity again.

L10 is our double-sized final issue, with around 80,000 words of original fiction and poetry, as well as a brand new comic story from Eisner-nominated artist Drewscape and a full-page illustration by internationally celebrated graphic novelist Sonny Liew.

Because of the increase in content, we will need to raise at least $2,500 USD to cover our costs for the issue (with $4,000 USD needed to use full-colour printing for the artwork).

The deadline is at midnight SGT on 27 March 2018. This gives us two weeks.

Go to our Patreon page today and pledge to become one of our patrons; if you’re a patron already, please spread the word. Some of the special reward tiers—in particular the Sorcerer, Salamanca and Irreal levels—are still up for grabs.

Note: because of the way Patreon is structured, any pledges received after the deadline will not be counted, and your support will also not be noted within the journal itself, so please pledge before midnight SGT on 27 March 2018 to have your contribution matter.

Here’s what you’ll get in issue #10:

  • the exciting conclusion of Dean Francis Alfar’s award-winning novel Salamanca
  • sightings of a strange astronaut in an infinite library by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, illustrated by Eisner winner Sonny Liew;
  • the meeting between weretigers and Sang Nila Utama by Manish Melwani;
  • the enlightenment of a politician’s wife by Cyril Wong;
  • a Pygmalion-esque tragic romance by comic artist Drewscape;
  • weaponised merlions in WWII-era Singapore by Kevin Martens Wong;
  • an unexpected offer of omniscient immortality by Eliza Victoria;
  • gods and mango tree spirits united in song by Vida Cruz;
  • post-apocalyptic satay cookery in Marina Bay Sands by Wayne Rée;
  • domestic strife and changeling tigers by Natalie Wang;
  • the magic of folding origami cranes by Topaz Winters;
  • a panadería that guarantees pregnancy by Gabriela Lee;
  • surrogate speaking to the dead by Patricia Karunungan;
  • a dating app for interdimensional monstrosities by Marylyn Tan & Graeme Ford;
  • and speculative poetry by Kevin Minh Allen, Davian Aw, F. Jordan Carnice, Genevieve DeGuzman, May Chong, Lawdenmarc Decamora, Joses Ho, Judith Huang, Sithuraj Ponraj, Bronwyn Sharman, Lakan Umali and Natalie Wang.

You have the power to help us meet these goals, and ensure that LONTAR can go out with a bang. Become our patron before midnight SGT on 27 March 2018.

Thank you!

Thanks to Our Patrons


Our patrons at the LONTAR Patreon have now been charged for issue #9, and I want to very publicly thank each and every one of them for coming to our aid in our time of need. They heeded the call for help after the funding rug was ripped out from underneath us, and I can’t put into words how much their financial generosity means to LONTAR and to me personally.

Because we had to send the print edition of L9 to press before all of the Patreon pledges were in, anyone who pledged in this last month may notice their name missing from the acknowledgements page. And even though it will be listed in the ebook edition (soon also available at Weightless Books), I want to recognise all of our wonderful patrons right here. Thank you for being such awesome human beings.

Universe Level
Carolyn Camoens

Dragons Level
Nuraliah Norasid

Cluster Level
Raymond Chan
Eliza Chan-Ma
Anh-Minh Do
Bob Helmer
Ho Zhi Hui
Ng Yi-Sheng
Erica Verrillo

Galaxy Level
Michaela Anchan
Nasayir Bedlam
Shelly Bryant
Chen Cuifen
Melissa De Silva
Philip Holden
Jennifer Hogan
Michael Janairo
Lo Hwei Shan
Manish Melwani
Andrea Pasion-Flores
Felix Pels
Sng Wei Tien
Phil Tatham
JZ Ting
Pete Young

Solar System Level
Richard Boulter
L. Chan
Julia Cheot
Caroline Chingcuanco
Dave Chua
Emilie Collyer
Tamara Craiu
Paolo Jose Cruz
Vida Cruz
Shana DuBois
Matthew Farrer
Jens Finkhaeuser
Lian Fournier
Liz Grzyb
Niall Harrison
Maria Haskins
Elizabeth King
Jan Larres
Lee Jing-Jing
Wei Fen Lee
E.C. Myers
Viet-Anh Nguyen
Cassandra Phillips-Sears
Francis Ramirez
Gord Sellar
Eric James Stone
Fernando da Silva Trevisan
Tiffany Tsao

One Week Left to Fund Issue #9


Many thanks to all of our new and existing supporters at Patreon for their generosity: we are now 65% to our goal of $1,250 USD for funding issue #9!

LONTAR #9As I mentioned in the previous post, we are having to make up the financial shortfall to publish L9 after NAC turned down our grant (along with many others). The print edition has come back from the printers and will be available in bookshops soon (although you can order it direct from Epigram Books right now), so the money to pay for the print run has already been spent by the publisher, but we still need to pay that money back.

Patron levels start at $3 USD, but if you’re unable to pledge to the Patreon directly, please do me a huge favour and spread the word about this online. We only have $430 USD left to go in order to fully fund the issue, and only one week left to raise it.

Thank you!

LONTAR Needs Your Help


Issue #9 has been proofread and sent to the printers, and will be coming out near the end of October. I’ll be revealing the cover art here soon, although our Patreon patrons have already gotten a sneak peek. Which leads me to the following.

The National Arts Council of Singapore rejected our grant application for L9, despite their history of supporting us since L3. This was extraordinarily disappointing, not least of all because it threatened an early cancellation of the journal; we came *this* close to disappearing altogether. However, Epigram Books will still be publishing the issue, thanks in part to our Patreon funding.

That said, we currently have a $1,300 SGD shortfall (~$950 USD), which I will have to pay out of my own pocket if further funding does not appear.

So please, do me a huge favour and become a Patreon patron (and spread the word) to help us make up this gap. There are many patronage tiers depending on your comfort level and financial situation, starting at $3 USD. And at the $75 level, you have the choice between signed copies of Here Be Dragons by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar, or Red Dot Irreal by your humble founding editor.

I will be charging our patrons for issue #9 on 30 October 2017, so if you can help us out (and also be listed in the issue for your support), make sure to pledge by this date. Thanks in advance!


(Not) The End for LONTAR


After much discussion with my editors, and many sleepless nights in thought, I have decided to end the publication of LONTAR after the release of issue #10 in April 2018.

It’ll have taken up six years of my life by that point, and even as supremely proud as I am of what we’ve accomplished with this journal, it’s getting harder and harder to sustain my enthusiasm for it. It takes up a lot of time and mental energy, which could be applied to my own writing (which has suffered greatly in the last few years). Ten issues is a solid run for a project that didn’t exist in any form when I started it. And I want to say a very heartfelt thank-you to LONTAR’s staff, contributors and readers, for making it such a phenomenal publication.

That said, LONTAR is not going away completely. In print form, there are already plans for a retrospective anthology, as well as a literary folio in association with We Are a Website. In addition, I’ve been in talks about transitioning LONTAR into something more resembling a community organisation focused on outreach and recognition (including the establishment of an annual award). And for the first time in almost twenty years, I’ll be attending WorldCon this August in Helsinki, and moderating a panel on “Surreal Worlds of Southeast Asia”.

Issue #9 has been finalised, and will be released in October of this year. We’ll have part two of Dean Francis Alfar’s novel Salamanca, as well as fiction by Aliette de Bodard, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Philip Holden, KH Lim and Sean Jones, and poetry by Mariel Annarose Nicole Alonzo, Melvin Chen, Russ Hoe, DA Xiaolin Spires, Inez Tan and Lakan Umali.

Also, I want to end LONTAR with a bang; L10 will be a double-sized issue (around 70,000 words) and I want to invite you all to submit. I’ll be accepting submissions until 15 September 2017, and I would love to fill up our final issue with your stories, poems, essays and comics. This is your last chance to be included in the current incarnation of LONTAR, so please send me your very best.

Many thanks for joining me on this literary journey. Let’s send the journal off in style, and look forward to what LONTAR will turn into in the future.

Jason Erik Lundberg
Founding Editor

L8 Back From the Printers!


Issue #8 arrived this morning from the printers, and will be making its way to Singaporean bookshops within the next week or so. However, you can order it right now directly from Epigram Books!

This new issue presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand. Check out the contents!



Salamanca – Part One
   Dean Francis Alfar



The Fisher Queen
   Alyssa Wong

   Wilfred Cabrera

The Road to Burabod
   Michael Janairo

Welcome, 265 Aggregate Scorers!
   Clara Chow



Swing Past Old Pluto
farewell, blue elephant

   Judith Huang

Independence Day, 1898
   Bernise Carolino

The Long Divorce
The Brain Train

   David Wong Hsien Ming

   Tilde Acuña

Two Stories About Bloomsday
   Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Snap Chat
Same Ghost Every Night

   Sharlene Teo

Time Again for Life
Desert Interlude

   Christina Sng