by KB Meniado
In November 2017, #romanceclass launched Flair, an imprint dedicated to bringing 🔥 steamy 🔥 contemporary romance written in English by Filipino authors. The first release was You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria, about a younger man and older woman (noona, if we may) falling in lust—then in love, with beautiful Seoul in autumn as its backdrop.
September this year sees the beginning of #romanceclassFlicker—a fresher, younger imprint aimed at readers and lovers of young adult literature. The first release is Heartstruck by Angeli E. Dumatol, a story about learning how to grow comfortable in one own’s skin and cultivating good relationships. The added ✨ in this story, and every one that will come after, is that it carries a very Filipino thing: Arnis, the country’s national sport.
Seventeen-year-old Alexa Zamora looks as if she’s always been the beautiful and graceful center of attention. If you knew her in grade school though, you’d remember a sad little girl, who had lost her parents, and spent most of her time on the martial art arnis—a rough sport, not something girls were supposed to like. If you knew her then, you might have ostracized her for it.
She learned from this mistake, and has done her best to hide all traces of her sport and skill in a new school, and now she’s New Hope Academy’s It Girl. But transfer student Theo Guevarra, who happens to be her old arnis buddy and first love, arrives and makes her question the life she’s been living. How long can she keep up appearances, before it all falls apart? Read reviews: Goodreads / Get a copy: Amazon
Now I’ve read this one, enjoyed it and can probably talk for hours of what I think about it. It’s bittersweet, new and nostalgic at the same time, and best of all, substantially relatable. I’d happily recommend it to those going through the pangs of growing up, because it sheds a lot of light of what it means to be just you and to be accepting and happy with that, at least for the time being.
Before you go and click on that Buy Now button, let me share this conversation between me and the author herself. Enjoy!
Angeli E. Dumatol is a physician by profession and when she’s not in the clinics, she can be found writing stories, reading books, or getting lost in a daydream. Angeli has been writing since the age of six and completed her first novel at the age of twelve. It is her ultimate wish to be able to use both medicine and literature in making a difference in people’s lives. She currently lives in Quezon City with her ever supportive family.
Hi, Angeli! Thank you for making time for this. Congratulations on Hearstruck—seven years in the making (since the idea popped into your head), and it’s finally here. I hope it’s everything you imagined it to be—a dream-come-true—and for that, I’m happy and proud of you! 🙂
My first question is: In this story, Alexa lives her high school life wearing a mask. This is something that’s happening to more people than we realize or care to admit. Has this ever happened to you on a personal level? How do you think it affected the way you approached this story, and ultimately, how you ~grew up?
“Because no matter how hard I try to understand, I can’t. I can’t understand why you’re so intent on living a lie.”
Yes, it has! I think everyone will face that kind of struggle at one point in their life: wanting so much to belong and to not be alone, wondering if they are good enough, worthy enough, to gain acceptance, and resorting to concealing parts of their true selves out of the fear of getting rejected. I’m certainly no exception to this. At first, wearing a mask feels like having a safety net, but at what cost? You trade the chance at true happiness for that false sense of comfort and security. Learning to love and accept yourself isn’t something easy, and trusting other people to be able to love and accept you is a whole new story of its own. But when you finally gain the courage to do it? The effect on your life is priceless. I wrote Heartstruck with these thoughts in mind, wanting to show young readers that you don’t have to wear a mask to fit in. We all have our place in the world, and we’ll only be able to find it if we stay true to who we really are.
Maintaining meaningful relationships is a top priority no matter what age you are, and this is evident in the way Alexa values keeping her tight circle of high school friends. What do you think constitutes a good, healthy friendship?
A good, healthy friendship is one that is rooted in mutual trust, respect and support. It means having someone who accepts you wholeheartedly, both the good and the bad. It means having someone who you can count on to celebrate your victories with you, and at the same time, have your back when you’re down. But it also means being this someone to that other person. Friendships, much like other healthy relationships, can only work when there are two!
‘Being this someone to that other person’… may I ask – do you have a Theo Guevarra in your life? *wink* If yes, how much has that person ~influenced who you are today?
“All I know is here’s a guy who’s always been so supportive of me, who doesn’t care if I’m the perfect, graceful, and beautiful It Girl or the tough-as-they-come Arnis Girl.”
Hahaha! Sadly, I don’t have a Theo Guevarra in my life right now. (Theo, where you at?) But I have been blessed with Michelles, Kates and Sarahs. Having friends like them has made such a positive impact in how I live my life, ultimately making me a more resilient and kind person, no matter what life throws my way. One of them gave me words I continue to live by up to this day:
“You don’t have to be the Best. You just have to be the best version of yourself.”
In your Author’s Note, you mentioned that you took Arnis as a P.E. class. Was that an active choice or… (we all know how signing up for P.E. classes can be difficult!)? Did you have fun, and do you have photos to share—because you know PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN? :))
During that semester, my block mates and I had a hard time getting a P.E. class that would fit in our schedule, so we decided to try requesting for one together as a block. We were granted an Arnis class, and even though I know close to nothing about it, I decided to just go for it. At least, I’ll be able to stick with my block mates!
The class was okay—way better than what I expected. I learned a lot, and even had fun. But I did realize early on that I had absolutely no ounce of talent for the sport. Haha! We’d have drills, and I’d keep losing hold of the sticks. I’m one of the students who always has to get the teacher to correct her grip. We’d also have pair exercises, and there was one time when I accidentally hit my partner on the head! I was so scared I seriously hurt her. Thankfully, no real harm was done.
I tried looking for pictures, but I couldn’t find any more!
Well, if you were to ask me to unearth my photos, I’d say the same so I’ll let that slide! Final question: if Heartstruck was a sorbetes flavor (this plays a huge part in Alex and Theo’s relationship), what would it be and why? Queso and tsokolate of course not included in the options!
Hardest question! Haha! If Heartstruck was a sorbetes flavor, it would probably be strawberry because it’s super sweet, yet juicy at the same time. *wink* ☁️