by KB Meniado
Local box office history tells us we like romance and suspense films—why not translate that level of investment into print too? Here, author Mayumi Cruz talks about what it means to write romantic thrillers, what she loves about engaging with readers and why she thinks self-publishing is worth it.
Mayumi Cruz is an indie author of fusion fiction, writing stories that cross genre lines. Some of her writings have appeared in Philippines Graphic, Lit Up — Medium and AdHoc Fiction. Her short story, “Black Love,” won in Bookbed’s Fictory in 2017. She has self-published six books, as well as co-authored three anthologies. Her next book, It’s Not Just Semantics, will be out soon. She lives in the Philippines with her husband and three sons.
Hi, Mayumi! Most of your books carry thought-provoking themes. What made you want to write romantic thrillers? What is it about them that excites you?
I was inspired to write a romantic thriller because there are so few available, especially locally. When I was writing Chroma Hearts, I wanted to prove three things: (1) a unique story where true love triumphs against extreme odds; (2) emphasis didn’t have to be on the actual heinous act like the usual norm, but instead on the power of the human spirit; and (3) create a whodunit crime story where the reader will be kept guessing until the end. It’s funny, really, because I was kept guessing, too! I originally had a different villain in mind, but the story kind of created its preferred ‘bad guy.’ I myself was surprised who it was!
Thrillers, be it a book, a movie or a TV series like Criminal Minds, have always been exciting to me because they stimulate the mind.You need to focus on every detail, every character, every scene to be able to know who-killed-who, how-did-that-happen, where-did-he-do-it. You don’t want to miss anything because once you do, you wouldn’t be able to solve the puzzle. While it’s a nice feeling to find out in the end that your guess was right, it’s more challenging to be proven wrong because you get to engage your mind again by reviewing everything until you realized how the writer came up with it.
You did a great job—I was on the edge of my seat reading Chroma Hearts! Do you think a part of you lies in any of your characters? Who are you most like among them?
That’s tough because every one of the main characters in Chroma Hearts was flawed to a fault. But to choose the lesser evil, I would choose Melvin. He fell in a moment of weakness, but he was brave enough to admit his guilt and make amends. His determination, patience, and enduring love for Erica are qualities any woman would want in a man. (Related: “Bookbed reviews: ‘Chroma Hearts’ by Mayumi Cruz”)
So much is poured into making all of this happen. Can you talk about your experiences as an author—from writing to reader interaction?
I find inspiration almost everywhere, whether I’m reading, watching movies, or simply strolling. There’s always something to write about. But I only usually start writing once I have visualized a beginning and an ending to a story. I don’t have a set writing time in a day. When the words flow, I follow. Oddly, but I write better and faster when there’s a deadline.
Wattpad is an amazing platform to gauge readers’ reactions. Some of my books were first published there before I self-published them. I interact with them, get inspired and learn from them, too.
My most favorite in my author process is coming up with unique twists and turns that can make my story more interesting to readers. My least favorite is outlining. It’s because most times, not everything comes to me all at once, and my outline consistently changes, branching out to separate individual story ideas—and my WIPs just keep stacking up!
What’s the hardest part about self-publishing? Any good moments you also want to share to encourage others who want to do the same?
The hardest part is marketing the book, and getting people to take a chance at you and buy it.
And the loveliest part? Nothing beats the sense of achievement that you have written your own version of a story, and you took the courage to publish it. It may not be a bestseller in terms of sales, recognition or popularity, but when you were able to accomplish something against all odds and despite your own doubts and fears, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. Priceless.
And congratulations on everything! Now, here’s something a little fun: Should any of your books get adapted into a film/TV show, which do you think will it be and why? Who would you choose to be cast as the main characters?
If it were up to me, all my books! Kidding aside, I think many will agree that this crazy, cruel world we live in badly needs a romcom from time to time. My first book, a romantic action comedy, The Gangster and The Socialite (with a new edition now titled Escape to Love; available here) is an enemy-to-lovers trope with a mixture of comedy and action. For local actors, I’d choose Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza to play the leading roles. For international actors, Zac Efron and Lily Collins.
Chroma Hearts, on the other hand, will make people believe in the power of true love and the strength of the human spirit to rise above the ashes of a shattered life. To play the leading roles, for me, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, hands down. ☁️