Welcome back to another spotlight for Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month! Last week, we had a lovely conversation with Robert Baird covering many topics. This week, we’ll be spotlighting Mikasi!
Mikasi is a Hainanese furry writing currently living the Republic of Singapore. During the day they work as a plastics R&D engineer. In their free time, they enjoy reading, going to museum exhibitions, and of course writing. While they began writing mostly speculative fiction, they currently focus on slice-of-life works.
With our introductions in the books, let’s get on to the interview!
FWG: What would you say makes a good story?
Mikasi: Something that makes you think about the scenes or thought it provokes when you are no longer reading it. Like when you are in the shower, or walking to work and you still think about those story/movie scenes despite no longer looking at it, it has done its job well.
A story that makes you feel, essientially.
FWG: If you could convince everyone reading this interview to read one piece of literature, what would it be?
Mikasi: For Anthologies, probably Stories of New Tibet Vol 1 and II. They show the fragility of life, and how easily it is devalued even though it takes considerable time and effort to replace. For novels, I enjoyed the Harry Potter series (up to book 6), because of vast amounts of worldbuilding which is itself hard to contemplate.
FWG: How would you say your Hainanese heritage has affected your writing?
Mikasi: I would say that in recent years, I started writing about characters from other countries who end up living in other countries. Such as the dorm student in my story “A Friend In Winter” (FANG 10), and “A Leap Forward” (Claw the Way to Victory).
There were occasions I had to live alone in other countries, such as in during my UK exchange program back in University, and I am all too aware I kind of look different I enjoy exploring this in fiction.
My Hainanese heritage also had me write stories with a taste of Chinese culture and legends, such as elements from Journey to the West (“Adversary’s Fall”, Gods With Fur)
FWG: Is that kind of “othering” (for lack of a better word) something you enjoy exploring through fiction, or is it more a way to try and emotionally sort through this difficult thing in a safe environment?
Mikasi: I try to put some of my own personal experiences where possible in my writing because it is “real” and hence will make the story relatable to those who’ve experienced the same before.
FWG: Are there any other things like themes, folklore, or other bits of your history that have made it into your stories you’d like to share?
Mikasi: I also wrote a story of a character who died, and has to experience his last 100 days on earth, based on Chinese underworld afterlife beliefs. It is during this 100 days that he discovers that despite their dedication, there is a time we have to let everything go
Singaporeans have to undergo a 22-24 month conscription process, so I have addressed conscription , and military service in both humorous (“Fathers to Sons”, Dogs of War) and less-humorous stories (“No Choice About It”, ROAR 10 and “In Better Times”, Difursity.)
FWG: The Stop Asian Hate movement has has a lot of discussion for folks in the United States. As someone who’s Asian, living in an Asian country, have you had to deal with some of the unfair and unfortunate bigotry towards certain members of the Asian community during the pandemic?
Mikasi: I have seen some bigotry in my country even before the pandemic, but most of it is due to cultural stereotypes of other ethnicities that may or may not be true for specific individuals. That said, it is unfair to judge a person on the basis of their culture or religion before knowing or understanding them.
In the UK, I have had a 7 and 9 year old sing a racist song to me and my 5 classmates, and in Canada, I had a storekeeper annoyed I asked her a product-related question, but I sometimes tell myself that I cannot use my own standards for judging people for others.
Singapore has 4 official races, but the Government’s strict laws (and penalties) against racism from anyone, even the majority race, keeps that to a minimum. Less aggressively, housing laws ensure a certain percentage of each race or ethnic group is present in every neighborhood, so no place is “Just for Race A, Just for Race B, etc.”.
When people meet and see one another everyday outside of school and work, they actually become more understanding and tolerant as other ethnicities don’t seem that “strange” to them.
FWG: If you could leave readers with a single piece of information about Hainanese culture or folklore, what would it be?
Mikasi: I don’t know much about specifically Hainanese culture, except Chicken Rice as a dish, but for Chinese culture in general, the epic legend Journey to the West (seems quite similar to The Wizard of Oz (one of my favorite books) by Frank Baum. They all feature characters from different backgrounds, (and species) who are seeking redemption from their previous misdeeds (Journey to the West), or looking for a higher sense of purpose (The Wizard of Oz).
This concept is actually very similar to our world. Despute everyone’s differences, in the end, ultimately, everyone is trying to pursue their own path to happiness, and whether or not we choose to help or disrupt them is entirely up to us.
And yes, we have our own holidays that draws a parallel with Western ones, such as the Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) which is held a few days before Christmas, and The 7th Month/Hungry Ghost Festival , which might seem similar to Day of The Dead or the traditional Halloween, though the 7th Month is a (Lunar) Month long.
This is interesting because despite all the above festivals and holidays originating from different places across the world, different cultures still make sense of personal beliefs in different yet very similar ways
FWG: Any last things you’d like to tell our readers?
Mikasi: There is a lot we can learn from stories that are very similar to real life. Because living people write stories, they put a bit of themselves and their life experiences into it. How the characters suffer, how they get past their adversities; they are all things people have all experienced at some point in history. Stories teach us we’re not alone in suffering and happiness.
They also give us a safe means to experience other people’s lives without (too) much harm. They allow us to travel to other worlds, worlds of the fantastical, of the strange, of the erotic and arcane, in futuristic cities and planets, and magical realms accompanied by angels and dragons. All this is possible, and more, just by the turn of the pages, and some willpower of reading those words written with lots of hard work.
So don’t be scared to try a book you haven’t read yet; perhaps a book you had on your cubhood bookshelf but never got round to reading. You might be surprised at what you might discover.
We would like to thank Mikasi once more for sitting down to chat with us. You can follow him on Twitter @MikasiWolf and see all of his current written works on his FurAffinity. Make sure to stay tuned for next week for another spotlight. Until next time, may your words flow like water.