Smoking With Bea Pantoja

Read the Story October 15, 2004

Your story “Rabbit Karma” reads a little like a fable. What gave you the idea for this story?

To be honest, I have no clue. One day I was thinking of rabbits, I guess. Normally I like rabbits well enough, but that day I just hated how cute and cuddly and too damn plentiful they were. Monty Python and the Holy Grail might have had a hand in my feelings towards rabbits. Some stories are planned and well-thought out, others are just spewed out of people’s brains onto a page. I didn’t really sit down and plan the story —it just came out in a burst. Rabbits were a good a subject as any, and I suppose the little girl and the mushrooms came from somewhere else (I have no idea where.)

I believe, at 16, you are the youngest writer we’ve published in SmokeLong Quarterly. How long have you been writing?

Firstly, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had other young writers in SmokeLong; they just might not have mentioned it. There are lots of young writers these days, and the quality of writing is improving. I’ve been writing ever since first grade, I think, but I never realized how much I really loved writing till now. In third or fourth grade my teacher asked us to write out word problems, and I tried to make mine really creative, like a little story. She said I was too sarcastic and I wasn’t taking this seriously and told me to write mundane, boring problems like the rest of the robo—er, students. Thank god I didn’t take her advice or I might’ve ended up like her.

What have you read recently that inspired you?

Hmm…I haven’t read anything recently that totally inspired me—some books have given me ideas on my other works, but recently I’ve read a few books by an author who regurgitates plots over and over and somehow showed me what not to do in stories. Recently my booklist has comprised of reading for my IB class, The Crucible, textbooks. I guess I’ve been inspired to burn my textbooks, but I don’t think that counts.

Tell us about where you live in Indonesia, please.

If you want to know about the beautiful cultures, the eclectic and spicy food, and the breathtaking beaches of Bali, you could pick up a travel book ;-). I live in Jakarta, the capital, where traffic jams last eons, motorcyclists are insane, and car and bag checks are the norm. It’s a place where squat-pee toilets are right next to western toilets, fried food stalls are set up next to Starbucks, and settlements of extreme poverty are right against mansions of wealth. It’s a place where R is just a letter on the movie poster and the drinking age is just another number. I love Jakarta—it’s a city of contrasts; it’s so unique. It’s so much more than what’s on a travel guide.

Do you aspire to a career as a writer? Or something else?

Writing is definitely in my future, though I don’t know if it will be my career. I’m thinking advertising or business, but the left-hand side of my brain—the analytical, logical side—is so underdeveloped I’d put my co-workers to tears because I’d float all over the place. I’d like to go into publishing, I guess, with my sister who is a comic artist. Or, gee, maybe I could be an author (ha, ha). Whatever I become, I will always make time for writing because it’s something that’s been a part of me for most of my life.

About the Author:

Bea Pantoja is a sixteen-year-old living in Indonesia who believes chocolate and writing go hand in hand.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.