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#romanceclass: Writing to Travel, Traveling to Write

BY CARLA DE GUZMAN

The other day I was standing in line for a buffet, considering my food options when out of nowhere, a little voice in my head wondered, “What if a cute guy suddenly approached and commented on your buffet strategy?” Would we talk about the order in which you had to eat the food? Would he be the adventurous type or the kind to eat the same things in buffets? 

I was properly distracted for a few minutes, picking up slices of sashimi while wondering at the further possibilities of writing a buffet meet cute, until my sister asked me if I wanted to go to the dessert table. The meet cute is now filed in my brain, a plot bunny hopping around until it gets used. 

Such is my life as a romance writer. Stories and possibilities just pop into my head, asking my favorite question of all time: “What if?” That two-word question was the fuel that led to books like Cities, exploring multiverses in different settings, and led to a reality TV, San Francisco-based book like Marry Me Charlotte B! In If The Dress Fits, I asked “What if the big girl doesn’t get a makeover?”

I’m still asking myself that question when I think about the next thing I want to write. Which makes me excited and want to write and write until I can’t write any more. 

People always notice that when I write, I take my time when talking about the settings. Half the time, I talk about the fast pace of Hong Kong, or the bright lights of New York. Even If the Dress Fits, my new book set in Manila, spares no expense in describing the scents and sounds in Dangwa and Tagaytay, which are impressions from my own travel experience.

I like to tell people that the real reason for writing a book is because it’s your own story to tell. Your experience of standing in line at a buffet is totally different from mine. In the same way, your approach to a romance can be different from mine. I like seeing best friends become lovers, weddings, exotic locations and artsy-type characters. Mina V. Esguerra’s books are usually strangers that become lovers, dealing with very adult situations. Bianca Mori loves tackling sexy, high society situations that occasionally involve a little bad-assery. Six de los Reyes almost broke the Internet by writing about scientists trying to understand love while understanding themselves. Each writer has their own voice, their own story, and one of my favorite things about being part of #romanceclass is seeing each author’s voice come to life. 

When I travel, I see possibilities. I see stories waiting to be told and unraveled, like Poké Stops you have to spin. The travelling fuels the writing, and somehow the writing encourages the travelling. It is always a wonderful surprise to find people excited to read my books and who tell me to ‘go! go! go!’

#romanceclass is a community of Filipino readers and authors of romance novels. To read more from them, click here. To buy books, go to romanceclassbooks.com.
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