Sometimes I get requests from students to answer questions or give comments, usually for a paper or a report they're doing. This is a recent Q&A I did with Hannah of DLSU, for her thesis. Sharing my answers here!
-How is the demand for the genre (chick lit and modern fiction) here in the Philippines at present?
There is a great demand for contemporary romance (teen romance, new adult, adult) and probably in unprecedented numbers. The chick lit category however, if you're to define it as the books about twenty-something women living in the city, is not the top genre right now, and is probably taking a backseat to broader romance stories.
-What is it about modern fiction that makes it really popular nowadays?
For lack of a better term, "the feels." The most popular stories right now are the ones that people readily gush about, emotionally. (From The Fault in Our Stars to She's Dating the Gangster.)
-Do you think modern fiction/popular fiction has other value aside from being an escapist read or for entertainment? What is the value of modern fiction?
It's probably something that won't be appreciated until much later, but I see popular or modern fiction as snapshots of our time. If a story is at all authentic, and it becomes well-loved, it's probably going to be a good indicator of how we felt that year, how mature our thoughts were, what we liked and loved. As an author I try to sneak in more than the usual in my books, even though they're meant to be light reads. I've introduced psych concepts, myths, career advice even. But it's all in context and it should all still be fun.
-How different is the modern fiction from the West to its local counterpart?
When the characters are teens, "Western" stories are a bit out of reach. They usually involve driving, going to prom, having sex, various situations that seem very adult to teens here. However as the characters get older, there are more similarities. College, first-job, "new adult" stories tend to be more relatable now.
-How many imprints/genres do you currently have in your line-up?
I've written young adult (teen audience) and new adult (18 and older). However I've decided to focus on the older readers, and tell more stories that feature them.
-Would you entertain the idea of having a “Bro Lit” (“Dick Lit”- guy centered texts) counterpart for Chick Lit? What kinds of stories do you think this hybrid-genre will contain?
I guess the authors and publishers behind this would have to know who they're writing for. Is it "guy lit" for girls to read? So girls can get a peek into their thoughts? Is it guy lit written for guys, with the intention of getting them in touch with their feelings? What makes it different from guys just writing in general? This hybrid could work if it knows what its goals are.
-What is your view on the influx of modern fiction now and the evolution of Wattpad where everyone and anyone can be an author?
There are criticisms of it that I've heard before, but they've also been said about self-publishing, commercial romance, chick lit... It's essentially people looking down at the new kid on the block. I think people should be encouraged by it. Encouraged to read, and write, and publish. What this proves is that the population of readers wasn't as small as we thought.