by Dawn Lanuza
Before I started writing books myself, I was an avid reader. I’ve tried out different genres over the years but discovered early on that I easily sway over to the Young Adult/Contemporary Romance section. It is, after all, what I wanted to write as well.
There are a lot of authors who have inspired me, but if I could pinpoint certain works and authors who I consider as catalysts of my own journey as a contemporary romance writer, these are the top five that ultimately made me want to write.
1. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
I still remember buying The Princess Diaries when I was a teenager. I opened the book, read the first few pages, looked up for a moment and then just smiled. Cabot’s cool and candid tone of writing just spoke to my teenage heart.
The Princess Diaries is a story of awkward teenager Mia Thermopolis who is also—surprise!—the daughter of the Crowned Prince of Genovia, which makes her a princess but still an awkward, yet tall, teenager at that.
Finding this book felt like finding a new best friend (and it didn’t hurt that the book was written like a journal). It definitely helped me get more comfortable with writing and expressing a narrator’s thoughts using the first person point-of-view, injecting humor on the narrative and building up romance.
2. Gilmore Girls created by Amy Sherman-Palladino
Cheating a little bit with this one as this is a TV show, but I am huge Gilmore Girls fan and the fast-talking, witty conversation and relationship between Lorelai and her daughter Rory. Most of the time, my stories start with conversations between characters and I think that was partly because I grew up watching this show. I adore each character’s quirkiness, the banter, the wit and of course, the drama.
3. Between Dinner and The Morning After by Tara FT Sering
Back in the early 2000s, Summit Books started publishing chicklit from Filipino authors and it included Tara FT Sering’s Between Dinner and The Morning After. The blurb sparked my interest and the book did not disappoint. A couple of people may have disliked the ending (spoiler alert! It’s not the happy ending most of us prefer!), but I think that’s exactly what endeared the book to me.
The truth is, I’m quite a sucker for open endings, non-happy ever afters (but I write romance with happy ever afters, sure!) and I am very impressed at how Sering attempted that. I liked how she managed to make the story complete even without the fairy tale book ending. I found it brave and I give it a standing ovation until this very day.
4. My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra
The title is pretty much the bait for me here. My Imaginary Ex is the story of Jas and Zack who are actually not exes but pretended to be one, thinking it wouldn’t hurt (but of course, they were wrong), leading them to this complicated tangle of exes and hidden feelings.
I’ve looked out for Mina V. Esguerra’s works since then. I like how readable her works are. There’s a certain simplicity in her prose I appreciate, and she definitely knows how to make a reader swoon!
I’ve met her a couple of times recently, as she pretty much helped me get started with my own writing journey. Seeing all the books she’s writing and how she’s doing it is such a motivation for me.
5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
No one ever warned me about Eleanor & Park. I just walked into the bookstore, bought the book and never thought I would be blown away. It was, after all, my first Rowell.
So after reading Eleanor & Park with very little expectations, I think it’s safe to say that the book slayed me. I went to a Rowell binge right away and fell in love. I admire what a great storyteller Rainbow Rowell is. The conversations are always fun, the characters are the kind of people you root for despite being flawed, and the emotions are raw. Her books are very easy to read but come with a punch.
There you go! The five people and their works who’ve been a great influence over me and my writing. If you do decide to give their books (and show) a try, let me know what you think! ☁