Me, a Filipino author in the 21st Century
Sharing some answers I gave to questions I got from a student interviewing me for their 21st Century Philippine Literature class.
When and why did you start writing novels? has it always been something you wanted to do?
When I was in grade 6 I started writing a teen romance series on notebooks (old school!). The notebooks were numbered up to 20+ and classmates read them in order and passed them around to the next person! But then I went to college and thought that my writing should change, become about darker things, and that kind of dampened my enthusiasm for writing even if I was learning a lot. I started writing novels again when I was in my twenties, because I gave myself a goal to get published before I turned 30, and what worked for me was returning to the romance genre that I loved writing and reading as a teenager.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The fastest is one month (My Imaginary Ex, Tempting Victoria); the longest is three years (Kiss and Cry). Lately I try to write a book between six months and one year, but I’m not strict about my own deadlines.
Which work of yours are you most proud of?
I wrote a young adult trilogy called Interim Goddess of Love, and I’m still proud of how I was able to not just incorporate Philippine mythology and folk tales in a modern story, but also of actually just finishing it. When you’re not writing full-time that means you have many distractions and real problems to take care of, and I’m just glad I was able to focus on this for as long as I needed to.
What was your inspiration for writing these stories?
I’m often inspired by what-ifs, which tends to happen when you pay attention to real-life romance stories around you. Lately though I try to notice what’s missing in terms of stories we’re telling, and see if I can do anything about it. It’s why I can’t answer when I’m asked what’s trendy or what’s popular — I’m always looking for the opposite. What’s missing? What and who are we ignoring right now? Those stories should exist too.
In 2017 I was a speaker (representing chick lit and contemporary romance) at the Mass Training for Senior High School teachers at the Philippine Normal University. I discuss this subject differently when talking to students and when talking to teachers or fellow authors…because there’s room for all of it and it’s very interesting. Hoping to always remember that these little interactions/requests have an impact.
I do love talking about the impact of a romance book. The places it can go. The people it can affect. Invite me (or other RomanceClass authors) to speak about this. (Email minavesguerra at gmail dot com)