Recap: The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2016
This isn’t going to be a recap of the three-day festival, as I’d missed the first two days of it. So many things were happening in Manila (and my life) this particular weekend. Busy, but fun.
Organized by National Bookstore and held at the Raffles Hotel in Makati, this was the event that used to be called the Philippine Literary Festival. Now it’s the Readers and Writers Festival, and it was held on August 26 to 28.
The first thing I got to be part of was the dinner for authors on the second day. The organizers flew in authors Adam Johnson, Paula McLain, and Anna Todd and we got to have a nice meal with them and listen to them talk about their books, their writing lives.
After dinner, got to meet Anna Todd, author of the After series. She was a refreshing addition to any discussion of literary work because she, like most Wattpad authors I know, has a different perspective on writing and publishing. This is by no means an “overnight” success, though it might seem that way. It’s work and powering through challenges, and it’s a LOT of writing just the same.
Reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain right now. And was able to get Circling the Sun signed!
On the festival’s day 3, I finally got to go early and attend panels. But first, browsing at the pop-up store they had at the Raffles Hotel.
My own panel was at 3 PM later that day, but I went early to attend panels of author friends.
Agay Llanera, Dawn Lanuza, Kate Evangelista, Bianca Mori, and Chrissie Peria are all published by Anvil under its New Adult imprint. At this panel they explained New Adult (why it’s not exactly YA, why it’s not exactly adult) and I thought they were all awesome.
After lunch, Ines Bautista Yao hosted this panel featuring authors from recent Summit Books. (Including Marla Miniano and Quark Henares)
My panel was called “Writing YA for Diverse and Discriminating Readers” and I was there with Ron Lim and Mae Coyiuto. I presented a “wishlist” of Filipino YA that I’d put together after posting a question to people on Twitter. Essentially, everything. Filipinos need to write YA that covers everything — all story lengths, all genres, all the true and sincere things we went through. I didn’t talk about how a YA book sells, but reading YA is another matter, and I think writers when starting out should be aware of what readers are craving for, and not so much how much that is worth.
Mae Coyiuto is the author of The Year We Became Invincible and she shared a bit about her writing, and how growing up Filipino-Chinese she couldn’t find books about her, or whose characters even had names that sounded like hers. She’s a published author and on her last year of college, and is now writing the characters she wanted more of as a reader. It’s great that she’s taking the time to do this, to write YA while she’s still in the thick of it. And she got to remind us all that it’s not about “sugarcoating” things — writing YA can be dark and real, because they need it and can handle it.
Ron Lim is my co-editor for the Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy book, and talked about how as a gay man he wanted LGBT+ YA, and to this day still is looking for it. He’s been a journalist, and now a published author of fiction. He called for more stories by and about LGBT+, and better representation of LGBT+ in other books. His entire part of the session I think was the most “difficult” (not really difficult, but it might have been if it’s the first time you’ve been told that this was missing in local lit), but also an important step. It might have been difficult before to publish these books, for whatever reason, but we can’t say that it was because there are no readers for them. There are. What do we do about it?
With Sonmi, Alecs, and Pola, future teachers majoring in Literature at PNU. Their tuition will be sponsored by some generous friends, until they graduate (provided they get good grades and stuff). We actually have enough generous people wanting to sponsor 16 more students. We're working on it! Sonmi, Alecs, and Pola will help.
I got to meet in person the Literature students whose college tuition fees will now be sponsored by me and some friends. And also catch up with friends in publishing, who normally attend these things.
Thank you, National Bookstore and Anvil Publishing!