Former Cosmo writer recently released a new member of the chick lit genre with Before I Do, a catty read about the heroine Kit Castille’s personal life. The book was already interesting and unique at first glance that Lifestyle Manila decided to have a conversation with the real-life Kit, just to better understand what goes on in her darling little head.
How did the idea for a book (or a book series) come about?
After Bedroom Blog by Veronica, I’ve always wanted to write a short novel about being single and dating in Manila. But I became so busy with work that I never got to sit down and really, just, write.
In early 2014, Mina Esguerra, one of my favorite Filipino authors, asked me to join her anthology project. It’s called “New Adult Quick Reads’ Say That Things Change Vol. I.” It’s a collection of short stories written by Filipino authors and it was published as an e-book. It was the first time “Before I Do” was published and it felt good. I wanted to do more. Then I joined fellow author Nayin Yagdulas’ Wattpad writing contest and won. A year later, I produced my own printed copies.
When I was legally single, there were a lot of stories that I wanted to share – mostly mine and some conjured from friends’ own. I felt that a lot of women my age (late 20s and early 30s) feel pressured, even irritated, whenever people (family, friends and even strangers) rudely ask why they’re still single. I find it fascinating how these inquiries, which were once private, are now flaunted in public.
Today, even people you don’t really know can ask you straight out why you’re still single, even if you’re currently in a long term relationship, and ultimately judge / condemn / categorize you as either a choosy, bitchy, masyadong high ang standards, man-eater, whatever. And they do this even without knowing you and your principles, dreams, goals in life.
Honestly, I strongly believe that marriage is not the ultimate end goal of the modern Filipina, but there are women like that. That’s what I wanted to write about in Before I Do and I hope, somehow I have succeeded in getting the point acrosss.
How long did it take you, from the beginning words to the finished product? Who helped you along the way (entire process from writing to publishing to promoting)? Was it easy?
Mina gave us two to three months to finish the manuscript. I wrote at coffee shops. I wrote in bed. That time, I was already civilly married and before I set out to write, I told my husband about it.
Even before I got married, he knows my writing process. I am…here…but not really. How do I explain this, hmm. I guess in a nutshell, whenever I write, I ask him to leave me alone.
That sounds cruel but you see, I write in my head and sometimes my fingers can’t type fast enough. It’s not really about having focus, it’s more like being in character.
I sort of jump into Kit’s shoes and I think, breathe, act, type like her. I need to be “there,” in this somewhat suspended alternate reality where I shape the story. It’s weird. More importantly, I drink wine whenever I do this. It’s probably the alcohol but that’s how I write. And I’m glad to hear that a lot of women, even men (I have friends who read it already, including the real-life Denver who read it in one sitting!), can relate.
Mina has helped me so much, she talked to me about the process of indie publishing and how to promote the book. Our family business, HS Grafik Print, produced the first batch of printed copies as my 30th birthday gift. Months later, I produced the second batch.
Mina also introduced me to people who helped me get the book into local bookstores (Chamber Shell Publishing) and asked me to join the 5th Filipino ReaderCon last November 2015 in Manila as a sponsor where I also sold Before I Do. There is a strong and very supportive community of Filipino authors and readers and I am glad to be part of it.
I have a background in advertising, marketing and communications. Let’s just say that what I do to market Before I Do is the progressive culmination of everything I have learned. My family and friends are also very supportive. Majority of the characters you read in Before I Do are real people and my closest friends. They also help me promote the book.
What are your next plans after “Before I Do”?
Oh, loads! I am currently writing the prequel (Book 1) and sequel (Book 3). In the prequel, I will write about the back story of Kit’s unrequited love, the one she talked to Denver about and well, the one who probably broke and made her at the same time.
Readers will discover a whole new side of Kit. She wasn’t always bitchy and pigheaded. Kit was once, just like most of us, a hopeless romantic whose heart got pounded, breaded and fried.
In Book 2, we’ll see Will make a comeback in one of the sexiest plot twists I am currently scheming.
#BeforeIDo is available at most leading book stores in Manila for Php200.