17 October 2015

Featured Author: Tara Frejas

Hi everyone! I'm making up for skipping a ton of posts by featuring two authors every month until December (#ambitious). But really, it's fun getting to know more about all these Filipino authors!

So this week, we're featuring author Tara Frejas, author of Paper Planes Back Home and The Forget You Brew (#StrangeLit).

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CPS: Tell us about the first story you ever wrote.

TF: I wish you could hear me laugh as I read this first question, but not because the first story I ever wrote was hilarious. If memory serves me right, I was nine when I wrote it, and it wasn’t even straight-up prose or anything badass like that. We had a school requirement wherein we had to turn in comic strips, and because the only thing I could draw rather decently back then was Snoopy, I created comic strips of a dog that looked just like him. And the story was about a dog that baked . . . pies, I think. I don’t remember the premise now, just that he was a baker dog.

CPS: What’s your writing process like?

TF: Not sure I have an actual writing process because I usually start really, really small, like with a sentence or paragraph, or lines of dialogue. Sometimes I start with a chapter and see how that flows before I move on to the next, and the next. Before signing up for #SparkNA, I have never seriously outlined any of the previous fics I wrote, except for when I’m in the middle of writing it and I realize I need to sort out character or event timelines. So yeah, the process usually varies for me.
With Paper Planes Back Home, for example, I started by writing a chapter and then sending it off to a friend who took a look at it and said it was promising. I took her cue and continued writing it until I challenged myself to finish it in time for a Wattys thing last year. It took me around 6 months to finish the entire thing. #SparkNA was outlined, but I did veer away from that when I got to the middle, and my outline for #StrangeLit was completely scrapped when I started writing it.
The thing which is constant, however, would be me looking at photos or watching videos of my character pegs. Research, I say, haha. It helps me figure out how they would react to certain things, how they would move or how their voices would sound like when speaking. Some of those details don’t appear in the stories, but they help motivate me anyhow. Also, listening to music is an absolute must.

CPS: When and where do you write? Do you have a set schedule for writing?

TF: I can write almost everywhere when inspiration strikes, or when a deadline is looming, but I do most of my writing at home. As for schedules, no. I’m very bad at schedules, which was why I signed up for Mina’s workshops. I wanted to discipline myself enough to be able to sit down at a fixed time and just write something, because I am a serial procrastinator who usually juggles way too many things. So far, I’ve successfully finished two workshops, but at the moment I’m resting from fic writing to support other authors (blog tours, etc.) and market my finished work (yay, #StrangeLit!).

CPS: Tell us a little about the books you’ve published so far.

TF: Paper Planes Back Home is a novel where two people—Skylar and Gianna—meet in some sort of limbo while their physical bodies are lying in hospital beds. In the beginning, we meet Gianna, who’s just being “initiated” into this entire realm where paper planes are currency for how much you are being thought of by the people who love you. As the story goes on, we learn from Skylar that you could actually craft a ride out of the paper planes so you could get out of that limbo and go back home. Meanwhile, we are also introduced to two other characters, Aaron and Anna, who become instrumental in getting those paper planes up there for Skylar and Gianna to use in their journey.
For #StrangeLit, I wrote The “Forget You” Brew, which tells the story of Kyle and Allison who stumble upon Nowheretown—essentially a “town of requirement” in that it finds you when you’re in desperate need of something. The thing is, Kyle and Allison are in love with each other but they’re idiots, haha. They’ve been good friends for years, so there’s that thing about getting scared of rejection and having the Friendship Over flag getting waved and all. Eventually, Allison walks into this cafe where you’re supposedly going to get served what you need, and she gets an afforgeto, which will basically wipe out all memories and feelings she has for Kyle. But of course, Kyle doesn’t want that, and of course he finds out after Allison drinks it . . . so he goes on a quest to retrieve her memories of him.

CPS: What are the last five books you’ve read? How did you like them?

TF: I have an all-Filipino lineup! The last five I’ve read are Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera, Songs of Our Breakup by Jay Tria, The Year We Became Invincible by Mae Coyiuto, Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano, and another one of Agay’s, Once Upon a Player. I’ve already blogged my reviews (more of spazz accounts, actually) about the first four, but in general, I really could say that I loved them for All The Feels they made me feel. I am so looking forward to reading more Filipino-authored books because I apparently missed out on a lot these past several years.

CPS: What do you eat/drink/listen to while you write?

TF: Copious amounts of coffee are a must. I already have caffeine immunity, I think, because I can sleep fine even after having it. But that doesn’t stop me from consuming it while I write; I just need coffee to function. As for food, I don’t have a go-to food item . . . I just usually grab what I can from the fridge or the cupboard, or sometimes when I feel like it, I buy certain things like Jalapeno Cheetos (fave!) or hopia or ramen. Depends on what I’m craving, if I am, but coffee usually does the trick.
Sometimes I listen to just one song when I write. You know, that one song that sums up what your characters are feeling, like you can imagine that song playing in the background while the scene you’re writing plays in your head? Yep, I do that. I loop one song and listen to it over and over again until I’m done with a scene (or chapter). I remember looping Marianas Trench’s Beside You and F.T. Island’s Severely a lot while I was writing my #SparkNA novel, haha.

CPS: Of all the characters you’ve written so far, who’s your favorite and why?

TF: Oh why must you make my life difficult? ☹
If I really must choose, I’d go with Filipina Legaspi. She’s my #SparkNA heroine who works as a roadie for a Korean pop-rock band called East Genesis Project. Fi is my favorite because she’s dedicated to her work, but she’s not all about the money—she really does care about her band as though they were her family, and she loves her job not because of its perks but because she feels like she helps inspire people. She has a good heart, and I like that about her, even if it gets her into trouble sometimes.
A runner up would be Anna from Paper Planes Back Home because she’s just a precious, precious soul. ☺

CPS: What story are you working on right now?

TF: Oh god, plenty. I haven’t really started writing them, but I am outlining several things bit by bit. There’s a #SparkNA sequel in the works, and there’s a #StrangeLit spinoff I’d like to finish before our three-month bundle contract with Buqo is finished. Apart from that, my #TalesFromTheMetro stories are begging to be continued, and at the same time I’m doing research for another possible novel that involves theatre people.
I know I should be working on them the soonest, but I’m dallying and I hate myself for it. I will get there soon enough, I promise! ^_^

CPS: Tell us about your latest release.

TF: My latest work is, as I’ve mentioned, The “Forget You” Brew which is part of the #StrangeLit Killer Seasons bundle. It’s available only via Buqo for now, at least up until the end of December, I think.
Little trivia about The “Forget You” Brew: I started formulating the story around bunnies, because in early March, my sister bought a bunny from the street market near us and we fell in love with him. And while the direction of the story didn’t focus much on bunnies, I might do that with the spinoff I’m planning, which should be out by January. Wish me luck!

CPS: Any writing goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?

TF: There are several, actually, but having my books on shelves at local bookstores would be on top of the list and I’m trying to get there eventually . . . hopefully by next year? I’m crossing my fingers, haha. And I would definitely be working hard to get more stories written, finished and published, maybe have one produced as a stage production—that’s a nakakakilig dream of mine. I also want to work with an artist who could translate my work into art because I would love to have a story book version of some of my stories, like Paper Planes Back Home.
But yeah, basically my goal is to write a lot more stories so I could experiment with them in terms of style, so I could also determine the aspects I’m good at and the ones I need improvement in. Finally, this is not a writing goal, but I would love to be of service to the writing community in any way possible. Getting to know Mina and the other Filipino writers through the workshops opened a lot of opportunities and prospects for me, and as excited as I am for my own growth as an author, I am also very excited to be able to eventually pay it forward.

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Thanks very much for your time, Tara! Hoping to read more from you soon!

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Check out these books by Tara Frejas!

Paper Planes Back Home - Amazon, Smashwords, Buqo
#StrangeLit: Killer Seasons - Buqo

Connect with Tara Frejas!

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P.S. I'm reviewing Tara's The Forget You Brew next week, so be sure to check that out ;-)

P. P. S. If you want to read #romanceclassbooks in print, check out our box at UniqubePH (3F University Mall in front of DLSU Taft)!!! Lots of freebies (including a free ebook!) with every purchase!!!

Photo from Mina V. Esguerra

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