Event Recap #24: Interview with Pierce Brown and The 2017 Philippine Readers and Writers Festival

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To say that the previous week has been one of the bests for me would probably be a huge understatement because just last week, not only was I invited to be a panelist for National Book Store’s 2017 Philippines Readers and Writers Festival, but I was also fortunate enough to be invited to casually interview one of my literary heroes, Pierce Brown, for a post on Book Freak Revelations. I’m hoping those who weren’t able to attend the 3-day long event could live vicariously through this recap.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I was extremely elated to be invited by my friends from National Book Store to interview the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Red Rising Series, Pierce Brown, just last Thursday. It was such a surreal experience getting to meet Pierce and to see just how enthusiastic and excited he is to be here in Manila warmed my bookish heart.

Here are some details that he shared with me and my friends Kate from The Bookaholic Blurbs and Kai from Amaterasu Reads during our interview:

  • Pierce has to be the biggest fan of the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, both in book and TV Series form. He actually wrote his books while waiting for the rest of the Game of Thrones books by G.R.R.M. to come out. Red Rising was written between Feast of Crows and Dance with Dragons. During that time, Pierce was able to write 6 books without any success, and he also couldn’t find an agent.
  • Pierce is excited for Iron Gold because he’s also excited to feature new characters besides from Darrow.
  • Through Iron Gold, Pierce gets the chance to feature new perspectives on the society, and readers get to see Darrow through the eyes of other people which is fun because he’s a very divisive figure.
  • Pierce also didn’t want to ruin anything for us and for those who haven’t finished reading Morning Star yet but he mentioned that “the struggle is real” for Darrow in Iron Gold.
  • His favorite characters from his books are Sevro and Victra. But when asked if he has any similarities with both of his faves, he says that he has was better hygiene and his toenails are not as weird as Sevro’s. *laughs* However, Pierce shared that he grew up with a kid like Sevro named Alex, and they grew up in Iowa together. One time, Alex got into a fight with a guy, and he jumped on his back and bit his ear.
  • In writing stories, he usually has a hard time writing deaths of characters who he feels like were robbed of their ascent to greatness. He feels like these characters deserved so much more than just a brutal and violent death, and that they could’ve further improved their character arcs.
  • When asked as to what could possibly be in store for him after The Red Rising and Iron Gold Trilogies, he mentioned that he’ll be working on a fantasy series entitled “Lamplight”. He can’t share more concrete details about this project yet, but he for sure will once he’s finished with Iron Gold.

And the people from National Bookstore were extremely kind enough to let Pierce take photos with us and sign our books! Good thing I had my copies of Golden Son and Morning Star with me. (I didn’t have a hardcover copy of Red Rising until after the 26th!)

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My week (or probably my year) was made right then and there! Getting the rare chance to meet your literary heroes is always a fun experience, and this meeting Pierce Brown is indeed one of my highlights for this year. I honestly don’t know how to top that.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

On Saturday, I was excited to be at the event because there were a lot of panel discussions that I wanted to go to! In efforts to keep this recap short and sweet, I’ll just summarize all the insights that the panelists shared during their respective discussions:

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From top to bottom: Apat Dapat: Lunsad Aklat Panel, Self-Publishing Your Poetry Panel, Clever Hands: How to Write Steamy Scenes in New Adult Lit Panel

Apat Dapat: Lunsad Aklat

I was a little late for this panel, but I was on time for Sir John Jack G. Wigley and Ms. Agay Llanera’s turn to discuss, wherein the former focused on how to incorporate humor in writing and publishing, while the latter centered on the importance of Young Adult Books for Filipinos. What their talks had in common, though, is the fact that both of them shared their journey to becoming published authors.

John Jack G. Wigley’s Insights on Humor Writing

  • It was mentioned that in writing a humorous story, writers have to consider that a joke isn’t a “one size fits all” type of thing. Some jokes might be funny to others, and to some, offensive. Before, sharing (or publishing your work), be sure to be cautious.
  • Humor can be found everywhere: During your daily commute to school or work, at home, or even at a restaurant. Just remember to keep your jokes or funny scenes unique.
  • Just because you’re tying to write a satirical novel, doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself to only reading humorous books. Expose yourself to different genres and be as inclusive so as to make sure that you know what you truly want to write.
  • Funny people don’t have to start off their jokes with the “I have a joke” statement. If you do have a funny bone in your body, it’ll come out naturally.

Agay Llanera’s Insights on Why Young Adult Books are Important

  • There is a demand for Young Adult books here in the Philippines, and as of now, there are only limited Filipino authors who write them.
  • In order to be as progressive as other countries in terms of advocating for literacy, we should encourage children to read early.
  • Young Adult books are formative, and it helps hone readers’ interests and let them determine and follow their own “tastes” when it comes to the books they choose to read.
  • Filipinos deserve to read stories with Filipino main characters, set in the Philippines so they would be introduced to the value of positive representation.

Self-Publishing Your Poetry

After lunch time, I went back to the Namayan Hall for the panel discussion about self-publishing for artists and poets such as Charissa Ong T.Y., Kota Yamada, and Dawn Lanuza. I’m not that big of a poetry enthusiast but I am amazed by how poets, whether they be traditionally published or not, are able to move and inspire readers from all over the world through their form of art. That’s why I wanted to be in this panel and hopefully gather inspiration to write my own poems. *laughs hysterically* Here are some insights that the panelists shared that I adored:

  • All three panelists shared their experiences and journeys from being a start-up poet to actually being able to self publish their work, and eventually having their art form traditionally published through different kinds of publishers.
  • The panelists gave out different kinds of advice as to how to succeed in this branch of the publishing industry, but what struck me the most is the importance of being genuine in terms of the stuff that you’ll write. Artists could gather inspiration everywhere, it just needs to be accessed.
  • They also recommended for every aspiring poet to know their audience because it helps to direct one’s inspiration into a certain topic or idea that their audience could easily like.
  • And lastly, they reminded their audience of one simple advice: whenever you write, do it to express, not to impress.

Photos from the rest of the day:

Featured books by Pierce Brown (left) and Mark Z. Danielewski (right)
Photos with Kota Yamada from the Poetry Panel (left) and Gio Gahol from the Spark Books Panel (right)
Candid photo with Mark Z. Danielewski (left) and my signed copy of House of Leaves (right)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

I arrived at Raffles Makati for the 3rd and final day of the festival at around 6:45am. Once I was able to register, I was already the 34th person in line. Which was normal, I guess? But anyway, after registration, I met up with my co-panelists Hazel, Kate, Eunice, and Lyra so we could all grab breakfast and run through our presentation for our panel that was scheduled that day. We ended up eating at UCC Mentore Coffee + Bar, quite fancily, if I may add, and once we were done, we went back to Raffles to just chill, and visit other panels.

Author Spotlight Featuring Pierce Brown

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The #PierceBrowninPH Crowd

At around 2:00pm, the Author Spotlight featuring Pierce Brown started and most, if not all, of us enthusiastic Filipino readers were basically howling to acknowledge the presence of our Dominus. And after the in-depth discussion and Q&A, and once our numbers were called, me and my friends finally lined up to meet Pierce (again) and have him sign my books (again, lol).

I was (internally screaming) happy to know that Pierce remembered me from our interview the other day, and as expected, he was just as ecstatic to meet his readers as he first was when I met him the other day. He was energetic, enthusiastic, and he made lots of effort to engage with his fans. He basically stood up through the whole signing just to get the chance to talk to us readers and give us hugs.

From left to right: Pierce Brown signing books, my signed books and Instax photos with Pierce, and another photo with him (because having one just isn’t enough.)

Keeping Up With Current Literary Trends Panel

Our panel was informative, and enlightening, and I’d like to think that somehow, through our own unique way, we were able to help enlighten more Filipino readers about the idea of diversity, cultural representation, and other pressing matters that the bookish community is facing right now.

To make things a little different, instead of sharing some key points that we talked about during the panel, I’ll itemize some of the books that were mentioned that we deemed diverse and has positive representation:

  • They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera (Positive LGBTQPIA+ rep)
  • Simon V.S. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Positive LGBTQPIA+ rep + good family dynamics)
  • More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Positive LGBTQPIA+ and mental health rep)
  • An Ember In The Ashes Quartet by Sabaa Tahir (The new covers feature a brown woman, leading to positive cultural rep)
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Good rep for fat people / body positivity)
  • The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (Positive rep for biracial characters)
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Positive rep for biracial characters and importance of self-love with trigger warnings for emotional abuse from parents)
  • 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac (Positive rep for bisexual characters and those that suffer from social anxiety)
  • Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (Positive rep for characters suffering from Agoraphobia / social anxiety)
  • #romanceclass titles such as Keep The Faith by Ana Tejano, Waiting In The Wings by Tara Frejas, What About Today by Dawn Lanuza, If The Dress Fits by Carla De Guzman, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra, etc. (Good Filipino rep!)

I don’t want to enumerate the stuff we mentioned in detail and further prolong this recap but all in all, it was an amazing experience, and it definitely was a fantastic way to end the festival. I’d like to thank my co-panelists Lyra, Kai, Eunice, Hazel, and Kate for being the most engaging partners ever, and also to National Bookstore for inviting us to be a part of this year’s festival. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity.

#GoReadWrite2017 Book Haul:

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  1. Signed copy of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  2. Signed copy of Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  3. Signed copy of Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  4. Signed copy of Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  5. Borrowed ARC of Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
  6. Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Tomas
  7. The Anatomical Shape of A Heart by Jenn Bennett
  8. Interim Goddess of Love Trilogy by Mina V. Esguerra

Thank you to my good friend Kate for letting me in on the local blog tour she’s hosting for Godsgrave! (Stay tuned for my review, you guys! I’m sure it’s gonna be lit!)

Before ending this post, I would like to thank National Book Store for inviting me to be one of your panelists for this year’s festival. It was such a wonderful experience getting the chance to talk to people about books and what they represent, and I will never forget your kindness. Also, thanks for endlessly striving hard to bring authors here to the Philippines, and allowing us readers to meet our literary heroes. Y’all are awesome!

I also want to thank each and every one of our panel’s attendees for coming and actively participating in our discussion. I had a splendid time sharing my insights with you, and I appreciate the time that you spent to hear me and my friends talk about diversity, cultural representation, and other bookish disputes. I’m honored to have been given such a big platform to share my thoughts with everyone, and I hope you all enjoyed the panel, and that you took away some ideas that could help you change the book community one small step at a time.

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Were YOU at the festival? Did you also get the chance to meet Pierce Brown and gaze upon his eyes and completely lose yourself in them? Tell me all about your experience via the comments section below!

BFR (3)Until the next one!BFR (3)Follow me around the internet!
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