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Marivi Soliven, Featured Author Interview for Audacious Women: An Anthology

Updated: Apr 6

HRM's Audacious Women: An Anthology is now released to readers and the public, and we are pleased to share some illuminating thoughts from our contributors about how they view "audacious women," their contributions to the anthology, and what they are working on now. Today's featured author is Marivi Soliven, who wrote the story "Talunang Manok," a piece in the anthology that explores how a competent woman handles an inadequate husband--and unfortunate events about infidelity.

How do you personally define an "audacious woman" and what role do you feel audacious women play in the world? What role have they played for you personally? Tell us an anecdote, a brief fact, or a true story.

I think an audacious woman is someone who steps outside her comfort zone and speaks up when others expect her to stay silent.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg played an invaluable role in advancing women's rights in the workplace; Gloria Steinem put on a bunny costume to infiltrate the Playboy Club and write a story about it; Maria Ressa defied death threats in the Philippines to pursue investigative journalism, and won a Nobel Prize for her work. 


What are your work's favorite themes when working with female characters/subjects?

Rage, revenge, perseverance.

Who is your favorite female character in art or literature and why?

I prefer to speak about the female authors, if you don't mind, and I have several favorites.  MFK Fisher practically invented the genre of food writing in the 1930s. She followed her then husband to Paris for his graduate studies, but eventually left him and went on to write several food and travel themed essay collections. That sort of willfulness, determination and confidence were practically unheard of at the time, and I adore her writing. My email signature is actually a quote from one of her books "Do what you most want to do, whether or not it is of any value to anyone else."  That pretty much defines what I imagine genuine artists and writers do. 

Can you speak to your piece/s in the anthology and what inspired it? 

I wrote that story over two decades ago, when I was going through a really angry period. My therapist at the time suggested I channel that rage into writing. Since I happen to enjoy cooking, that story was fun to write, and eventually made it into a collection of darkly comic short stories called Spooky Mo

Talunang Manok is an actual recipe I found in one of my Philippine cookbooks, but I haven't made it yet. 


What are you working on right now that lights you up?  

I'm waiting to read the screenplay of  the film adaptation of my novel, The Mango Bride.  The producers plan to begin filming this year.  Meantime, I try to come up with new flash fiction pieces for the monthly Dimestories open mic at the Book Catapult.  Writing is a solitary endeavor and it's nice to be around other writers now and then.

Who are you reading that does the same?

I'm enjoying Judy Reeve's travel memoir When the Heart Says Go. I spent two years drafting The Mango Bride in Judy's  read and critique group, and could not have finished that novel without their help. That was back in 2009, so  reading about her own adventures reminds me what a marvelously nurturing and thoughtful writer she is.   

Marivi Soliven has authored 17 books and taught creative writing at the University of the Philippines, Diliman and at UC San Diego. She was awarded a Hedgebrook writing residency  in 2018. Her debut novel The Mango Bride won the Grand Prize at the 2011 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippine counterpart of the Pulitzer Prize and the San Diego Book Awards. A film adaptation is in process. The film version of her story "Pandemic Bread," published in the San Diego Decameron Project, has screened at festivals in LA, Philadelphia and San Diego. 


To read work from this awesome contributor in the Audacious Women: An Anthology--and more exciting work that explores the complexity of women in life and literature, get your copy now! Every purchased copy keeps the lights on for small presses doing great things! Thanks for reading!

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