Last Sunday, November 12, 2017, I had the honor of meeting two of the most inspiring authors whose works I’ve recently come to love, Jasmine Warga and Jennifer E. Smith through the efforts of National Bookstore. I’ve had a blast getting to know them both as writers and as well as spending the day with my friends. Read on for a detailed recap of #JenandJasinPH!
It’s only been a month since we last saw each other, but I started the day and met up with Hazel at around 8:00 in the moring to grab some much-needed coffee + breakfast as well as to quickly catch each other up! She actually joined #NaNoWriMo this year and is actually in the process of writing another story entitled All Girls! Fancy, right? We later on met up with another friend AND another #BookwormsUnitePH co-host, Salve (who I haven’t seen in months!)
(L to R: Hazel, Me, and Salve)
Right after catching up and knowing one another’s current reads, we then went to the newly opened Powerbooks branch in The Podium. The store has this stunningly minimalistic design which I happen to love, and it includes a booth for Noteworthy, which is National Bookstore’s dedicated brand for stationery and other interesting materials.
My friends and I started filling up the venue rather quickly and before we know it, both Jasmine and Jennifer arrived wearing such contagious smiles, and I couldn’t help but clap and flail at the sight of these fabulous women. After they got settled, the question and answer portion finally started. Here are a few details I was able to take note of:
- When asked why she writes stories from the contemporary fiction genre, Jennifer shared that she also happened to write a Middle Grade Fantasy novel in the past and she viewed it as an experiment at the time, and she had a fun time writing it, but her heart lies in contemporary fiction because it was what she read while growing up until now. She might consider writing for different age groups, but she will still write contemporary fiction books.
- As for Jasmine, when she was asked the same question, she mentioned that she firmly believes that authors should play with their strengths while writing and contemporary fiction was it for her since it’s also the type of books that she read while growing up.
- When asked about her inspiration and writing process for her sophomore novel, Here We Are Now, Jasmine mentioned that it was actually the hardest story that she’s ever written. The idea for Taliah’s story first came to her during a past interview, where she was asked to write about the top 5 records that meant the most to her. Later on, the idea of a young girl writing multiple letters to a rockstar came into mind and the other relevant details fell into place right after. The novel also tells a story of how it is to be a fan of somebody’s work, and making a virtual bond with them through various ways like watching interviews, press materials, etc., and does being a fan, especially during the modern age, entitle you to an actual connection.
- As for Jennifer, Windfall, just like her other books, is told with themes like faith, chances, timing, and serendipity basically because this is what she’s drawn to, and she likes playing with befores and afters in her stories and so readers could hopefully see that winning the lottery is the perfect trope for that. The inspiration to write it first came to her when she was in a bodega in New York and she was in line to buy stuff and there’s a guy in front of her who was buying tons of lottery tickets. And right after, she realized that she wanted to tell this story from the perspective of someone who sets it all in motion, and has something to lose for that happening because she’s been in love with her best friend for years.
- When asked about what aspects of diversity would they like to see more of, Jasmine shared that she didn’t really see someone who looked like her or had the same cultural background in a book until after she was out of high school. But she was elated when she first encountered this book when she was in college that was about a biracial character and she thought that it’s important to write stories that reflect the world that we live in because reading is learning to empathize with people that are different from you.
- When asked about what aspects of diversity would they like to incorporate into their own stories in the future, Jasmine would like to add in more voices from people who come from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds, because this is how it should be.
- When asked about what was the trickiest part in writing Windfall, Jennifer shared with us that it was the hardest book for her to write so far mainly because it has a lot more characters and it circles around more personal yet serious issues.
- As for giving out good writing advice, Jasmine shared that her agent once said to her that specificity is the key to writing a good book and so the more specific you can be about an object’s texture, color, or the way something tastes or looks or smells can help make your story more universal.
- And as for Jennifer, the best writing advice that she got was from a writer friend that seemed so basic yet so helpful, and that is just to “write the book that you want to write.” and“just spit it out.”
After the interview portion, we then had our books signed by the authors and this was when I walked up to both women, individually, and shared with them my reading experiences for their books. Jasmine was so animated and sweet and bubbly and according to her, she was having the best time of her life here in Manila, though she is missing her adorable kids. Jennifer, on the other hand, happily thanked me for taking the time to host a blog tour for her latest book, Windfall. I actually flailed after finding out that she remembered me from all the tweets I kept on tagging her on. Honestly, it was such an amazing experience, and this is definitely one of my favorite parts of being a book enthusiast.
We briefly said our thanks and goodbyes right after to give the authors ample time to get ready for the last leg of their signing, which was to be held at the Samsung Hall at SM Aura, from 2:00 in the afternoon onwards. As for me, and Hazel, we both headed for the venue to meet up with friends Inah and Miel. Of course, upon meeting up, we had lunch and wasted no time—there were lots of stuff to catch each other up on, and we basically laughed our hearts out as we revelled in each other’s presence.
Once we were seated, well-fed, and settled, we waited for the authors to show up for their last signing. To kill time, we went outside to take a few photos. (Oh, the things we do for bookstagram, right?)
(Credits to Hazel for the first 3 photos in this set!)
Afterwards, we waited for Inah and Miel to have their chances to meet the authors, and right after, we headed for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for one last meal together, before heading home. It was a great day. Why, you asked? Because any day spent with these lovely people is a day well spent.
The Book Haul
For Jennifer E. Smith, I had her sign my copies of:
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
- Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
- Summer Days and Summer Nights
For Jasmine Warga, I had her sign:
- My Heart and Other Black Holes
- Book Plate stickers (for when hardcovers of Here We Are Now become available!)
- Hazel, being the sweet and thoughtful friend that she is, gifted me with a finished copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for my birthday. (Thank you so much, Hazel! I will treat this book with so much love!)
- I also won a galley of Top Ten by Katie Cotugno, but since I already have a finished copy of that title, I traded it for an ARC of Release by Patrick Ness. (Thank you so much to my friend Gavin for trading with me!)
- My friend Kate indirectly gifted me with her talent through a hand-painted name graphic she made for me. (Kate, seriously. You are talented, and I’m so floored by this thoughtful gift. Thank you!)
The Thanks and Conclusions
And that’s pretty much it for this recap. If it wasn’t obvious yet from the beginning, I had such an amazing day filled with books, friends, and authors, and it’s absolutely one for the books, no doubt. But as always, this elation wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the following people:
- As always, thank you so much to National Bookstore and Powerbooks Store for bringing Jennifer E. Smith and Jasmine Warga to the Philippines. For probably the hundredth time, you guys rock!
- Thank you to Hazel, my all-day signing buddy, for willingly spending the entire day with me and, again, for the finished copy of T.H.U.G. You know I love you, right?
- Thank you again to Kate for the graphic, and to Gavin for the successful ARC trade.
- Thank you to Inah and Miel, for all the #BeckminaviderainPH hype, and #romanceclass talks we shared. (I have my eyes on y’all, especially you, Hazel. If you guys know what I mean… *laughs*)
- To the authors themselves, Jennifer and Jasmine, for being so game with this signing event, thank you so, so much! I hope Manila and Cebu treated you both well, and I hope you’ll consider coming back in the future.
- And lastly, to YOU, dear reader, for checking out this post up until this point. You rock too. And I’m not just saying that. *winks*