It’s about time for a book blog post!
If you have been following me on my Twitter account, you may have noticed my constant rantings about my writing lump. It has been so hard for me to release my creative juices and write something that encompasses so much passion and emotions. I’ve already been struggling with this writer’s block for more than three months and honestly, it drives me crazy. I just really really miss being able to write my feelings out without the problem of starting out only with the first paragraph and not having the will and words to continue.
I’ve read tips on overcoming this writing lump and watched some Youtube videos about it. What I’ve noticed is that they’re almost telling me the exact same things: just read. Read and read and read. And then, try and try and try to write again.
That is why this year, I’m planning to read everything in the 2017 reading challenge. I might just start with this one – ‘Saw Her Standing There’, a book written by Patrick Formanes, a first-generation Filipino-American from New York City who happened to have married his high school sweetheart and have published this book as the longest love letter he has written for her wife.
Luckily, I’ve had the chance to interview the author and get some inspiration from his answers.
What or who inspired you to write the book?
Actually, as far as inspirations for writing my book, there is a “what” and a “who”. The latter is my wife, Eileen. We started dating in high school (many) years ago. Years later, after we had our second child, I started kicking around the idea of writing a story based on how we met. She’d nudged me to write it. When we were in high school, we’d written many letters to each other. A little, running joke I have with her is that this novel is the longest letter I’ve ever written to her.
As for “what” inspired me, I’d noticed that, after doing some internet searches, there were hardly any YA novels that had Filipino-Americans as the lead characters…and none about Filipino-American teens set in New York City. Also, I wanted to write a YA novel that had nothing to do with the supernatural or dragons.
What is the main theme emerging from the book?
Family and friendship were the main themes. The teens in the book wouldn’t have been as successful as they’re shown if not for the sturdy roots grown from the seeds their immigrant parents had planted years earlier. As a result of their parents’ hard work, the main characters were (mostly) well-behaved over-achievers, all-around good kids maintaining high grades in high school.
The strength of the main characters’ relationships were tested in different ways, and the reader is given insight into how they handled these situations.
Do you think the Filipino tradition is also reflected in your book? If so, what is/are the traditions shown in the book?
This answer could be a little long-winded, so please bear with me. Growing up, many other Filipino households my family visited in the New York City area (NYC and New Jersey) were similar to mine: immigrant parents with first-generation Filipino-American children. And, if there was one common thing that I noticed in all of them, it was that, upon entry, Filipino food was always cooking and always offered. It was, “Come in, come in! Are you hungry? We have food here!” It was important for me to portray that. Another instance was when, at the wedding in the 1st chapter, the groom was wearing a Barong Tagalog. I wore one to my wedding, so he had to wear one, too.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
I’m obviously biased because I like all the characters, but Rob was one that intrigued me. An athletic guy, he was someone that wouldn’t hesitate to intimidate people to protect his friends. However, his decision-making in other situations showed how much more maturing he needed to do.
Are you planning to write your next book after this?
My wife’s been asking for a follow-up to this book. So, yes, I’ve jotted some things down. Of course, cobbling them into a good story is the hard part.
What are your tips for the aspiring writers out there?
Write first. Edit later.
What is your message for your readers?
I hope that they enjoy the book. Not because I spent a lot of time writing and editing it, but hopefully they can relate to certain characters or parts.
In New York City there were these people, Ryan and Lane. They met in high school, fell in love, and later married. Yes, to each other.
From here, it would easier to ask, “Did they turn into wizards? Witches? Vampires? Zombies? Or, are they monsters of unknown origins, their only aim to annihilate their neighboring monsters by gnashing them into delicious morsels with their ridiculously sharp incisors, leaving the planet to stew in the juices and horrific odors of rotten animal flesh, splintered bones, and exposed innards, then kill each other because: (1) they get hungry again and (2) they don’t like vegetables?”
No. None of that stuff will be found in this novel.
Through these pages, you will learn about Ryan and Lane, who are regular humans devoid of super powers, as well as their fellow Filipino-American friends, and how they maneuver through personal challenges while attending their Queens high school. Follow them as they play sports, kiss (some attempt more than that), use the foulest language, excel academically (at least most of them), fight, go to parties, eat food, take public transportation, and, most importantly, learn about each other.
Initially published, December 2014. Revised, July 2016
Young Adult/New Adult
Age: 15+ (Highschool and above)
You guys can buy the book at Amazon or at selected Fully Booked branches in the Philippines (Alabang Town Center, The Fort BGC, Greenbelt 5, Century Mall, The powerplant Mall, Promenade Greenhills and Eastwood Mall).
Let’s all make the world a better place, one book at a time! Happy reading, loves!
Disclaimer: Although the book was sent to me by the publisher, all thoughts except the author’s interview responses are all mine 😊
What are you reading these days? Any suggestions on what I should read next? Comment down below, loves!