Young author Marga Monserrate talks about her debut romance novel, writing tips, and next steps in publishing

Young author Marga Monserrate talks about her debut romance novel, writing tips, and next steps in publishing
by KB Meniado

When looking to find new stories to love, it’s always exciting to find a fresh voice. So every good time I get the opportunity to come across new authors, whether to read their work or work with them on their manuscript, I grab it as the experience often introduces a different kind of new perspective.

And that exactly is what Marga Monserrate, a newly published young author, brings. Taking on the love-triangle trope in her debut novel It Was A Pleasure To Be Yours, Arabella Brown, she shows her flair in not only storytelling but in depicting the highs and lows of first love. Here, she shares about her favorite scenes from her book, tips for aspiring authors, and what’s in store for her in the future.

Photo from the author
Marga Monserrate grew up in Sydney, Australia, but is now based in Manila, Philippines. Currently, she is finishing high school, and plans to take up business management as her course in university. Always a romantic, Marga would write love letters during class, which eventually led to her passion in writing romance. She finally published this book, which is a story that she holds close to her heart, accomplishing a dream that she has had for several years now. If you can’t find her biking, exercising or on the basketball court, you can find her snuggled up in bed, reading a romance novel, or watching a romcom. It Was A Pleasure To Be Yours, Arabella Brown is her debut novel.

Hi, Marga! Congratulations on your debut novel, and thank you for making time for Bookbed. Our first question is: Where do you get your ideas? 

A lot of my ideas come from my head, or some of the fun little daydreams I get throughout the day. To let you in on a little secret, a lot of my ideas are little spin-offs from experiences I faced in my past interactions with a lot of people. Some of my ideas are of experiences I dream of facing in the future. 

They’re not so little anymore now that one of them is now published! Tell us, when you’re writing your stories, do you outline or do you free-wheel it?

Whenever I write long stories like my novel, I like to create chapter outlines with all the events that will happen in that specific chapter. In doing so, I can see if the whole story flows from beginning to the end. There are some chapters that fall short, even with the chapter outlines, so when I do extend these chapters from my own mind back, aka. free-wheeling it. Sometimes, it’s good to swerve off your outlines. 

It often is truly a balance between the two, right? Speaking of balancing, what does your writing schedule look like, given you also have school stuff to juggle?

To be completely honest, I don’t have a schedule when it comes to writing. I feel that the best time to write a story that creates an emotional bridge between you and your readers is when you are in the mood to write. So, whenever I feel like writing, whether it be during class hours, or even when I’m on the road, I’ll just write away. I use my free time in my busy schedule as a student to write as well to maximize the day. 

Creating that connection with readers is important. Do you have beta readers that help you improve your stories?

I love reading my work to my very small support group (my dad, mom, sister, and three other friends). I like how honest they are with me, sharing what they truly think. A lot of the time, I would receive constructive criticism, which allows me to improve my work. This would help me see my work is impactful to the way I want it to be.

That’s a great foundation! Now about your novel, It Was A Pleasure To Be Yours, Arabella Brown, what would you say was your favorite scene to write, and why?

My favorite scene to write would have to be any scene that is light-hearted and full of kilig. Scenes like first dates, the proposal scene, and, of course, the wedding were the most enjoyable to write. When I write, I imagine the scenario playing in my head like a little movie, which makes it all the more enjoyable. 

On the opposite end, what was the hardest part in the process for you?

Sometimes, having other people read your work can spark waves of realization that there is always a way to improve your work. As I listened to the professional advice of my editor, there was a major plot point in my novel that I needed to rewrite. Even though I was super excited to include that part in my novel, I realized that it was important for me to change that aspect. The most challenging part was rewriting this plot twist in relation to the whole novel. 

Another hard part in the process was myself. As weird as it sounds, I too had doubts whether or not writing this book was going to be worth it. I had a difficult time listening to the discouraging comments, and people saying nasty things towards my writing. At the end, the only kalaban was myself, and this whole process taught me how to get over that. 

Way to go, Marga! There’s also always a reader for every book, anyway. Who did you write yours for?

I wrote this book for hopeless romantics, and young people with a broken heart. At the time I was writing this novel, I wasn’t at the best place with my love life, and this story taught me that love is endless. Maybe you feel like it is the end of the world after a breakup, however, that just means that there is a greater love out there for you, and that love enters your life in surprising ways. That’s what I hope my readers will feel like when they read my book. It’s not only a feel-good, kilig romance novel, but it can help my readers open their eyes and hearts when it comes to love. 

What is next for you?

I’m finishing up high school, so the next huge step for me would be moving to university. I plan to take up business management, and hopefully achieve my dreams in that next chapter of my life. As for my writing career, I do hope to publish more novels, as writing is a burning passion of mine. Hopefully I can join writing workshops, and clubs in college to strengthen my writing skills, and learn from professionals. 

EXTRA!

Favorite books?

  • The Selection series by Kierra Cass
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Dream collab?

I’d love to work with Colleen Hoover because I think her writing is impeccable, and so intelligent. I’d love to learn under her, and hopefully someday write half as good as her. Her stories are so moving, and I hope to write stories that will move my readers just like her stories have impacted me.

Tips for aspiring authors?

  • Never think your work is bad. You may doubt yourself in the writing process a little, but if you feel a tiny spark of hope in your work, then put it out there. You never know who you’ll inspire along the way. 
  • If you’re a young author, never ever wait until you’re older. Age should never be a limiting factor to achieving success. If you feel like you’re ready, take that step. 
  • This is usually a common saying, but write from the heart. Trust me when I say that readers feel every single emotion behind the words of your story, and if your heart’s not in writing, that connection won’t be possible. 

Must-haves for every writer?

  • The number one tool I think is important to any kind of reader is to be passionate with your writing. There are times when I would force myself to write, even if I don’t feel like it, and the outcome turned out to be something that isn’t my best work. 
  • Have a support group. Like I said before, a tight-knit support group will always be honest, which will act as a great tool in writing. 
  • Have a clear plan on what you want to write in your story. Although sometimes writing from your mind back creates bold and creative scenarios in your story, planning the exposition all the way to the resolution will aid you greatly with making a story flow properly. 

***

To the Brown’s, their family business is their first love. However, to Arabella Brown, her first love is Carter Nordom. 

Falling in love should be easy, but falling for her father’s worst enemy’s son, definitely was tough. Arabella and Carter were each other’s first loves. Despite their family issues, their love still prevailed as they would sneak glances at business galas, and run away to eat burgers in their secret spot. That is until Arabella’s father, Laurent, plans a life changing business move that leaves their love in shackles. Will Arabella have the courage to leave Carter in the past? Will Arabella ever find love again? Will Carter ever let her go, and give her the chance to fulfill her father’s wishes?

Buy a copy of the book via Instagram, Facebook, or margaisabellee@gmail.com.

☁️

The writer of this feature worked on the book as manuscript editor.

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