In case you’ve been living under a rock, Budjette Tan is one of two people we say thank you to for Trese, that awesome comic book/graphic novel about weird, horrific crimes in Metro Manila and a girl named Alexandra Trese.
Budjette writes the stories, while Kajo Baldisimo draws them.
Together, they’ve already dished out with six Trese books, and quite a number of awards spread out among the editions.
They’re about to release Book 7, but because it’s Valetine’s Day, Budjette and Kajo thought of giving their loyal readers a gift: Trese: Table for Three is something of a breather, a book between Trese 6 and 7.
But first, a really inspiring interview with the author:
Is it safe to say Table for Three is something like Rogue One, like an insert between Trese Books 6 and 7?
Yes! No! Maybe?
TRESE Book 5 and 6 have been long story arcs, focusing on one big case. When we started TRESE, we began by telling episodic, done-in-one, “wakasan” type stories. I missed doing those kinds of stories. So, when Kajo ask me for a new TRESE, I thought it would be nice to go back to telling a short tale.
So, depending on what the next case might be, then yes, this might just be the beginning of Book 7. But I actually already know what Book 7 will be all about. I just know that it’s going to be another long journey and I need to build stamina to write the story.
Can you tell me how you came up with the story? I mean, what was the idea that jumpstarted the entire thing?
I’m not really sure where this all began, but it might have something to do with a quote from novelist Jonathan Carroll. In one of his blog entries, he talked about how ordinary spaces are actually magical places, depending on the memory that is embedded in that place. He talked about how a street corner might be a daily, typical spot where you stand and walk through everyday, but to someone else, that was the spot where they fell in love with someone, where someone found out that some wonderful news. So, every time they pass by that mundane spot, it becomes a magical moment for them.
So, I had this idea of this heartbroken man, revisiting the places where he used to go to with his wife and I though, what if he found a magic spell that would let him relive those moments – but he’d need the right ingredients to make it happen.
At first, the story was simply going to be set in the scene of the crime: the hotel room where the man and his wife spend their first night together and happened on Valentine’s Day. But then, I thought, I might end up with very short story.
So, I thought of having an “opening gambit” or a “cold open” – which is how all James Bond movies always start, where you already see him in the middle of a mission and you get introduced to him and what he’s all about. I wanted to start with an action-packed scene, which would later lead us to this slow, intimate moment in the hotel room.
So, I thought of the Chef, an aswang who loves to cook very special dishes using very special people. He manages a pop-up restaurant which can only be afforded by other high-paying aswangs. I made him into a worthy foe for Trese and the Kambal.
The premise was strange and sweet, with a nice moral lesson tucked in there as well. Can you tell me how you came up with it/what inspired you?
Ha ha ha! Where did the idea come from? From being young and foolish and getting your heartbroken in the process; from finally finding the love of your life and realizing that it’s not about how much love you get out of the relationship that matters, it’s how much love you have to give.
There was also that lovely essay by Seth Adam Smith where he talked about why, “Marriage isn’t for you.” Here’s a quote from it:
“Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
I’m essentially telling the same story, but in a more morbid way.
You mentioned this is the first Trese story made in Denmark. Has Denmark influenced this Trese edition in anyway?
Ha ha ha! I don’t know if the Danish pastries has influenced my writing, but working here has given me the time to go back to writing. And yes, I can’t help but miss the Philippines in some way everyday.
The Chef was like a gory Gordon Ramsay. Did Iron Chef, Cooking Master Chef, or even Silence of the Lamb inspire this scene?
Ha ha ha! Did he remind you of Gordon Ramsay? Actually, I told Kajo to make the Chef look like Erwan Heusaff. But yes, I’m a big fan of Ramsay and his shows, so maybe he did influence the Chef a bit. And yes, Hannibal Lecter partly influenced the recipes of the Chef.
You mentioned that the chef part came afterward. Did the aha moment of the chef part come easy for you or was it a meandering process that involved many nips and tucks?
It took awhile to figure out the scene of the Chef. But I thought about how the most important “ritual” during Valentine’s Day is the dinner. So, I made the opening scene revolve around a restaurant and couples about to enjoy their Valentine feast. Then I thought of the Chef introducing the meals to his customers and thought of his speech about how Valentine is a “night of firsts” and that was enough to get me going on writing that scene.
Has living In Denmark, working in Lego influence or change the Trese storyline? How far along are you with Trese Book 7?
The great thing about living in Denmark is that now I have more time to write. The not-so-great-thing about living in Denmark is now I have more time… to do everything else! So, I have notebook full of notes about Trese Book 7, but have not written down the script. Let’s see how things go in the next couple of months.
How long did it take you to write Table for Three? How long did it take you and Kajo to finish it?
I think it took me three weeks of finish it and maybe Kajo finished drawing it four weeks, just in time for the Komikon that happened last November.
Is Table for Three available on print?
The printed version of TRESE: Table for Three might be available at the upcoming Summer Komikon. It will eventually be part of an upcoming Trese book.
For now, we’d like to offer it as a Valentine’s Day gift to our readers. You can read a preview of Trese:Table for Three here in MBLife.