I once dreamt of becoming a writer. However, I’m not confident and I think I don’t have the talent to write books or anything similar. I’m still even studying how to write good lyrics. So when I got the chance to interview a legit writer, I didn’t let it pass.
Let’s all learn from the author of my recent favorite book Before I do (I’m 101 sure you’ll love the story and can relate with it too!), Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla. I sent her 10 questions and here are her answers. If you’re an aspiring writer, digest every word.
- When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Unlike other people, my career path is not a linear one. If it has a specific shape, it would probably be a starburst or something. I finished with a Journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas but I didn’t want to write after I graduated.
The first two years post-college were spent in graphic design but in the years that followed, writing came naturally so I moved onto writing jobs such as copywriting and managing a travel-lifestyle magazine. I also delved into digital marketing. Before I relocated to Malaysia, my last job post was in marketing, as an internal communications specialist for a leading multinational.
Writing has always been in the background of everything I do. But the decision to become an author and publish books grabbed me by the balls (if I had a pair, haha) in 2014.
- How long did it take you to finish writing Before I Do?
Three months. The first version was actually a part of Mina Esguerra’s anthology project titled “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. Mina gave us around three months to finish the manuscript. A year later, after several revisions, I self-published the first batch of printed copies.
- Where did you get your inspiration?
Most of the musings in Before I Do are my own. I wrote it after I got hitched. I married the same man twice. The first one was in civil court and the second one was in church. I had a lot of personal issues I had to settle, including the one where I don’t think marriage is for me. The book gave me the chance to share those musings to women who feel the same pressures from family, nasty relatives and even friends.
- I really liked that you used real locations and people related to you in the book, it makes me feel I’m witnessing the scenes right before my eyes. Did they also play the same as the characters in the book to what they are in reality?
My closest friends are no strangers to being characters in my books. The first time I wrote about them was in Bedroom Blog by Veronica, which was published in Cosmo.ph in 2009 to 2012.
They know about it. Some even ask for a longer cameo, like Denver, who asked me to write a spinoff on his character.
I may have changed some names, but ALL the characters in the books are real people. Including that nasty, good-for-nothing, social-climber-of-a-relative Aunt Hilda who asked for a free copy but I told her to buy from the bookstore.
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I think of writing. I think of scenes in my head. I write dialogues in my head while I’m taking a shower. I decide if I should kill off a character who’s based on a real person I personally despise. Writers are like that. When they’re not writing, they think about writing. And when they’re supposed to write, they stare at the computer until words come out.
- From all the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
What Am I To You is still my favorite story. It’s the prequel to Before I Do. It’s my favorite because the storyline helped shape Kit as a person. Before she became the Queen Bitch, she’s just like many of us – hopelessly in love, romantic, optimistic and at certain times, helpless. And of course, there’s her hot guy best friend Tristan who seems larger than life, but in reality, he’s more relatable than any of the characters I wrote.
- What do you think makes a good story?
It has to be relatable and timeless. In one review, a blogger praised Before I Do despite not having much “steam.” Unlike other “romance” stories, Before I Do and What Am I To You probably have little exploits.
Of course, the characters in the book have sex, but I don’t dedicate two pages writing about it in detail. But as you read along, the scenes have a lot of “hugot” lines that many women – regardless of Facebook and marital status – can relate to. Some musings can gut you and make you remember a time or a person you spent so much time forgetting.
- What does your family and friends think of Before I Do?
I am blessed to have family and friends who support me in all my endeavors. We own a small printing industry. My parents actually printed the first batch of printed copies as a gift for my 30th birthday. I sponsored the second batch. We are looking at a third batch and more book titles. And just like many readers, they keep asking about the sequel. There are also some who ask me for insider trivia and the who’s who behind the names.
- What was the most valued comment or feedback you received from Before I Do?
The feedback has mostly been great. I get asked a lot when the prequel and sequel will be released. There were people who told me I should have translated everything to English but I politely refused because, like I mentioned, “leche” and “pakshet” are not as fun as their English counterparts. But the version in Radish Fiction is 100 percent English because it’s international.
- What’s your best tip to aspiring writers out there?
Just write. The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, you just need to get it on paper (on in Microsoft Word). I write while drinking wine or vodka on the rocks. I type mercilessly until I can’t go on anymore. When I’m ready to whip the manuscript into shape, I swear by black coffee.
Write because you want to, not because you want people to read it and admire it. Write for yourself first because if you don’t believe in your own work, you’ll find it harder to convince other people of your work’s worth.
There’s a huge, supportive community of Filipino writers. Connect. Collaborate. Support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other authors because you will definitely learn a lot from them.
Lastly, love what you do. In fact, love it to the point that it can almost consume you.
Thank you so much Kath for answering my questions and sharing with us a glimpse of your life as a writer, really appreciate it! I enjoyed reading! I’m fueled to write more (only on this blog tho) and share what I love to do.
Hey guys! She’s so generous to giveaway free 5 copies to my blog readers! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts about Before I do after reading it! It’s so easy to join, just follow the simple tasks below!
Good luck! 😉 xoxo