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How This Writer Went From 'Teen Talk' To Becoming A Published Author Of A LGBTQ Book

Pagmamahalan pa rin ang magwawagi.
IMAGE Summit Publishing Inc.

For this edition of #POPFICASKS, peachxvision, author of Pop Fiction's latest LGBT book Tibok, shares how she was inspired to tell this story of two girls falling in love.

Before publishing, Tibok was a short story at first. What was your inspiration behind it?

After acknowledging my own sexuality and basically confirming that 548 Heartbeats was inspired by my past relationship with an ex-girlfriend and the unrequited frustrations with one of my guy friends, I finally mustered enough courage to tackle issues regarding not only my own sexuality, but also the experiences I seem to share with everyone who was like me.

As I grew more and more open about discussing it, I decided to write this particular novel about our struggles—how letting the world know who you are and who you love is not easy, especially when everyone else around you tells you that it is wrong. As I poured my thoughts onto the novel, I felt supported by my readership and community. 

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What was also new for me about Tibok was that I tried dabbling on a style of writing based on thematic concepts to aid the flow of the story. I thought that titling each chapter with a color of the rainbow was very appropriate. I used their connotations as plot devices that helped me tackle issues experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community.

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What motivated you to keep on writing?

As mentioned, I think that the concept was already there, and I thought that it would be exciting if I made a decent story out of it. Also, my readers were a huge inspiration. They were already used to my previous endeavors on penning down HS kilig moments, but when I published Tibok on Wattpad, it seemed that they wanted this as well, even if the topic was more mature. Some of my readers, even from my Candy magazine days, opened up to me about their own sexuality, perhaps because they knew I could relate to them as I wrote about my own experiences in my blog. It came to a point that I could converse with them about these topics; I knew that they too had to be represented properly, and represented well. :)

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Do you believe in soulmates? Or do you believe that loving someone is like a work in progress?

I believe in both. Haha. You can just tell if someone is your soulmate, maybe because you can connect with them well. Sometimes this can develop into a romantic relationship, sometimes not. But more so, I believe that love will always be a work in progress. Those involved in the relationship must continually work on it. Circumstances change, people change, which simply means that love languages may also change. It is imperative that each should be able to communicate effectively and openly with their partner. They should be able to respect each other’s time and boundaries. 

Are you more like Kayi or Kabi?

Kabi. Besides her sexuality, she is often shown to be restricted by her own thoughts pressed upon her by how she grew up. She also had no one to depend on and go to; she was only by herself, until Kayi came, leading to why she got “confused” by how she felt. As she said, “Buong buhay ko, duwag ako. Takot na mawala si Luke. Takot na ma-fail ko expectations nina Papa. Takot sa lahat. Ngayon nga lang ako nagkalakas-loob na ipaglaban ang gusto ko.”

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This was something I could wholeheartedly relate with. I am also very much someone who adjusts their personality to their current environment. There are actually only a handful of people whom I could be my true self with. :)

What would you want your readers to take away from Tibok?

Quoting Kayi, “Hindi naman black and white ang love, e. Love is a spectrum. Hindi porke’t pagmamahal ’to sa ’kin, kailangan, gano’n din ang depinisyon mo.”

Also, love wins. As Kabi said, “Hindi lang naman kasi acknowledgment ang kailangan natin, lalong hindi rin tolerance. Aanhin natin ’yang mga ’yan kung ’di naman nila alam respetuhin ’yong mga karapatan natin?” I hope through Tibok, I could encourage readers to continue fighting for equality. 

As part of the LGBTQIA+ community, what message can you impart to readers coming to terms with their own sexuality?

Don’t let anyone else define you; only you can define yourself. But also know that determining who you are is a slow, gradual—sometimes confusing and scary—process. You don’t have to rush things, as if this were something to accomplish or figure out immediately. Allow yourself to be comfortable and get to know who you truly are.

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Do you plan to write more books that explore one’s sexuality in the future?

This, I think, will be difficult. I feel that I’ve poured everything I wanted to say into Tibok. But I recently wrote a short story on Wattpad entitled “CR Break,” which is something akin to Tibok, dealing with the same themes. Maybe I might expound on that. I do plan on writing another GL novel, but it’s not as explorative, as they are already sure of who they are attracted to. Perchance, the conflict could be centered around other things. 

Can readers expect to see more of Kayi and Kabi in the future?

Haha. Hmm. I’m not really fond of making sequels and series; even my readers know that I make standalone stories. But honestly, I don’t know. Let’s see. 

What are some of your favorite LGBTQIA+ books, movies, and TV shows?

My favorites would be:
Book: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (I stopped reading for a long time, and this was the book that made me return to reading);
Movie: Portrait of a Lady on Fire;
TV Series: Sex Education; and
Anime: Asagao To Kase-San.

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What representation would you want to see more in books?

If in literature, I would like to read more novels about two girls falling in love as it is my preference. It would also be interesting to read about asexuality. I know that there are already books with asexual characters, but I don’t think I’ve stumbled on one yet that my circle recommends. 

Buy the ‘Tibok’ e-book here.

Link: https://www.popfictionbooks.com/books/new-adult/251/tibok

Originally published in Pop Fiction.

Minor edits have been made by Candy editors.

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Ela Montierro of Summit Books
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