Hi, Zarah! I’m so happy to have you here at Cinderella Stories. Welcome to my blog and thank you for granting me this interview. First of all, congratulations on your new book, “Bumasa at Lumaya 2: A Sourcebook on Children’s Literature in the Philippines.”
1. Would you please tell us about your contribution in the book “Bumasa at Lumaya 2: A Sourcebook on Children’s Literature in the Philippines.” How long did you write this?
My contribution to BL2 is an article on setting up libraries and reading centers for young people. It took me two years to finish the piece. It’s the shortest piece in the collection but I labored in revising it. I think, if my memory serves me right, I wrote three articles. The first one was very academic and sounded like a paper meant to be presented at a conference for librarians. It received comments that, to this day, give me shudders. I tried my best to reframe my mindset. I removed myself from the article but I kept the comments of the editors to heart. Nasaktan ako, symepre. I had doubts on my capability to write a decent article. But my editors are, first and foremost, my friends in the industry. They always have the best intention at heart. It was then that I realize how lucky I am to have true friends in the industry. This is what I learned early on. Never compromise the quality of work over the personal. The ideals we aspire to achieve, the standards we envision to meet and the integrity we bring to our craft should be over and above our personal interests.
So I went back to the writing table.
My second article was epistolary. I used the persona of Pilar Perez, one of the Philippine’s prominent and influential librarians who championed children’s library services. In the letter, she gave tips to her nephew who is a new librarian and how he can serve children better.
It was rejected.
Because life happened, my final article was written sometime in 2014 with much coaching now, from Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz. I worked on the comments and followed through and it ended up as a DIY article. Very practical and easy to do.
Am I happy with what I wrote? No. Because, I just recently discovered a better way to approach the organization of library and reading centers. This came later on when one of the editors, Rayvi Sunico, engaged me in a convo over at Messenger with a friend who needs tips to organize a school library as she was a teacher with no library and information science background. It was Rayvi too, who pointed out that my tips were more appropriate for the BL2 collection. He encouraged me to go back to it and try sending it as an additional piece.
But, again, life happened.
I still hope that this “convo” piece will see the light of day. I have partially blogged about it. But putting it in a printed book is a different experience. Am I proud of what I wrote for BL2? Yes, to some extent.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I read Judy Blume and SE Hinton. There was something in them, especially on Blume, that made me dream to be one. Blume gave me hope. Hinton showed me possibilities. I was 14 years old then.
3. Why write children’s books?
It’s fun! It’s a lot of hard work too. You learn from your team: the publisher, the editor/project coordinator, and the illustrator.
4. What is one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned how little I know of the world of children. I learned to respect children more. I am always humbled to go through the process of creation. So every work or story I put out there must be carefully produced. Well thought out and lovingly crafted. But, book publishing can be messy.
5. What do you think makes a good story?
A good story speaks the truth of the reader – which changes from one reader to the next. A good story finds its place in the heart of both the young and the graying. A good story stands the test of time.
6. Do you have other works in progress?
Yes. I have two picture books in the works and laboring on two series for early readers.
7. Your tips for aspiring children’s book authors?
Find the stories that changed your life. A significant human experience. Tell it aloud first. Several times. Over and over. Then, write it.
We can talk about the messy part of workshopping a story and the steps into publishing later on. For now, write. Just write your story.
About Bumasa at Lumaya 2
“Twenty-one years after its first ever resource and reference book on children’s literature in the Philippines, the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) again offers readers a second look at where Philippine children’s literature is today: the huge strides it has taken and the many more fascinating destinations it has set its sights on.”
Contributors: Eugene Y. Evasco, Rene O. Villanueva (+), Neni Sta. Romana Cruz, Lara Saguisag, Christine S. Bellen, Ramon C. Sunico, Luis P. Gatmaitan, Mailin Paterno Locsin, Russell Molina, Carla Pacis, Augie Rivera, Zarah C. Gagatiga, Jomike Tejido, Beth Parrocha, Perpilili Vivienne Tiongson, Lin Acacio Flores, Ruben de Jesus, Liza Flores, Paolo Chikiamco, Ani Rosa Almario, Leonor Diaz, Dina Ocampo, & Felicitas Pado.
About the Author
Zarah blogs at https://lovealibrarian.blogspot.com
List of Works:
Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories by Dianne de Las Casas and Zarah C. Gagatiga, ABC CLIO/Libraries Unlimited, 2011
The archipelago nation of the Philippines is comprised of more than 7,100 islands on which over 170 dialects are spoken. This is not surprising given the many ethnic groups that have settled in the Philippines, each bringing traditions that have been assimilated by the Filipino people. One way to understand this varied nation is through its colorful folklore.
LOCAL PUBLICATIONS BY LAMPARA HOUSE
A Tale of Two Dreams: a parable from Mindoro (2013)
Illustrated by Bernadette Solina Wolf
Two childhood friends meet again after many years of being apart. One stayed on the island while the other had adventures in far away lands. They chose different paths but both discovered the meaning of home.
My Daddy! My One and Only! (2013)mybooks_2016
Illustrated by Jomike Tejido
A narrative in verse celebrating the joys and delights of fatherhood. Tejido’s clean and colorful illustrations extend and further develop the context of the narrative.
Dear Nanay (2014)
Illustrated by Liza Flores
A little girl writes a letter to her mother expressing how much she misses her every day. This is an homage to the OFWs and their families they left behind.
Big Sister (2015)
Illustrated by Ruben de Jesus
A little boy ponders on how much his big sister (Ate) means to her despite the many ways she annoys him.
Start Right Reading Series Kindergarten Level (2014)
Illustrated by Bernadette Solina Wold
A learning package with resources and teaching materials for Kindergarten students, teachers and parents. It has 12 story books with accompanying teachers’ manual and parents guide. Ideal for classroom use and homeschooling session.