by Inah Peralta
When a favorite romance author tweets about a new novel, you take heed and action. I know I did! Here, I talk to Ana Tejano about her upcoming book Win Meah Over, plus her writing process and favorite characters. Happy month of love and romance!
Ana Tejano has been in love with words and writing ever since she met Elizabeth Wakefield when she was in Grade 3. She’s been blogging for years and has contributed several non-fiction pieces in print and online publications using her other name, which isn’t really a secret identity. When she’s not writing romance, she works as a marketing communications manager for a payroll and HR company, extending the marketing things she learns at work back to her author life. She’s an active member of CFC Singles for Christ, lives in Metro Manila with several dogs and cats, and is always trying to catch up on sleep. And she loves peanut butter.
Hi, Ana! Thanks for being here today! I’ve long been a fan of your work, and I’m curious: What made you decide to venture into writing romance?
My romance journey started in 2006, when I decided I wanted to write that for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Or chick lit, really, because it was around that time that I started getting into the genre, and I loved how easy it was to read and how I see myself in the characters. I remember thinking, “We should have Filipino chick lit” so I started writing. What came from that was the (ugly) first version of Rain’s book. (Related: “Bookbed reviews: ‘Fall Like Rain’ by Ana Tejano”)
The shift to romance started when I joined the first batch of #romanceclass in 2013. I remember during one of the first meet-ups that I decided that Rain and Mark would have their Happy Ever After (I had an unknown ending in their first version), and it all picked up from there. When I started in 2006, I called it all fluffy reads, and in some way it still is because all the warm fuzzy kilig that makes romance books a joy to read, but now that I also write it, I realize how much work goes into the road to the characters’ HEA/HFN (Happy For Now) that it’s hardly fluff for the author. Still, this is a path I’m very happy to be on. All the feelings!
“Warm fuzzy kilig” is literally what #romanceclass brings! You’ve released three books so far (Fall Like Rain, Keep The Faith, You Could Be The One) and one short story for an anthology (Make My Wish Come True). Can you walk us a bit through your writing process?
Usually, there’s a plot bunny that comes in the most random times but I don’t really consider it as a real book idea until the characters make themselves known to me. Sometimes I pick a character from the universe I had created, sometimes they pick the story and I just let them be. But once I can already see/name the cast, I create an idea dump doc on Google where all the notes come in—character names, histories, quirks, bits and pieces of the plot that I want there, random lines of dialogue. I have a mobile version of it in the notes app in my phone because again, these lines come at the most random times and they go away if I don’t write them down.
I don’t start writing it immediately because there is a line that these stories have to follow. Of course, some of them are very disrespectful (I’m looking at you, Gabriel [from It’s A Match in You Could Be The One]) that sometimes I take a break from my current WIP to get a chapter or a scene out.
Then I outline, and here’s what I found out in the past years: I’m an obsessive outliner. I have versions of the outline on Excel, then in notebooks and sometimes they don’t even change much. I don’t really start writing until I have that opening scene, which changes so much as the writing goes on. I think the only piece that didn’t go through the many versions of an outline was Ruth and Ian’s short story (Fake It Till We Make It [You Could Be The One]) because I’ve had them in the back of my mind for so long that they feel like my own friends.
The writing is an entirely different process and it’s been different for all the books. Rain was written relatively fast because there was a class requirement, but I stopped in revising because of personal life things. I thought Faith would be easy, but what took time was the details of her work, but the Christmas story was easier because I knew what was happening (and I was already in love with Nico, haha). In You Could Be the One, Bottleneck (Gelo and Lara) took the longest to write because oh my gosh, how do I write YA again?
As for Meah [from the upcoming Win Meah Over]… she’s a monster. That’s all. Haha. But kidding aside, I’m still figuring out my pace but I’ve accepted that I’m a slow writer and I have to give myself time to sit, write, throw a tantrum then go back and write/run/crawl to The End. (Sorry to everyone who’s been waiting for too long!)
Is it harder to write for an anthology since it follows a central theme or is it just the same as writing a novel?
It depends! Having guidelines for a story makes it easy so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. The word count limits can be challenging but it also helps you focus on what’s essential in the story and keeps you from over thinking things. The timeline could be challenging because life happens and we’re not full-time authors, but you learn to be flexible, and writing with people makes for great motivation to meet a deadline.
From my experience, You Could Be the One was fun because it’s just me and it’s my favorite trope. Make My Wish Come True was a dream project and while we had a tight timeline so we could launch it before Christmas, I was fortunate enough to work with a great team of people to make it happen. 🙂
This is one favorite question I like to ask authors: What’s one word to describe your main characters?
Ha, this was harder than I thought it would be.
- Rain – Loyal (She’s the kind who will stand by you no matter what after she warms up to you.)
- Mark – Patient (Because how long did he wait for Rain again?)
- Faith – Resilient (More than a job requirement for her.)
- Nico – Favorite (Maybe I’m a little bit biased, haha.)
Win Meah Over:
- Meah – Brave (Maybe a little cheesy, but she is my bravest girl. 🙂 )
- Joseph – Complicated (Ha, that’s all I’m going to say about him right now.)
Compliiicated! Speaking of which, what shall readers look forward to in Meah’s book?
That the first draft is finally done! Meah’s book is a lot of firsts—first enemies to lovers, first third person alternating POV… and more, but I’ll stop here so I won’t spoil it. There’s also a concert tour, some dogs, a past fling, a proposal, and learning that one is always capable and worthy of love. And also a lot of familiar characters from previous (and future!) books because this is where I jump off from Rain, Faith and Meah’s world to the next group of friends.
I hope to share this with you guys soon, so I better start the editing. I’m also a little in love with Joseph but don’t tell Nico, okay? 😉