Thursday, August 6, 2020

Author's Friday | A REMINDER TO MOVE FORWARD by Mina V. Esguerra

MINA V. ESGUERRA is author and publisher of romance novels. She founded the #RomanceClass community of Filipino authors of romance in English and the readers of the books. Also, an agent representing media adaptation rights for selected #RomanceClass titles. Visit and for more about these books and projects.

My latest romance book, released in July 2020, is also my 25th book. As a self-publisher, I usually get to control my writing schedule, as well as my publishing release date. I get to make the decisions on all of that for all of my books, and I wanted to make my 25th book’s release special.

Then 2020 happened, and not only did I move all of my deadlines, but I also started to question whether to release a book at all. Why put out a new book during a pandemic? Didn’t people have other things to worry about? Who would be reading romance at this time?

While wondering about all of that, I put publishing on hold and instead devoted some time to other things (not my book). At the beginning of quarantine, I watched Crash Landing On You, a Korean romance drama. Every week, I participated happily in my writing community’s watch parties of classic and current Pinoy romantic comedies. I was spending four hours just doing the weekly grocery run because of long lines and used that time to listen to romance audiobooks. These became things I looked forward to, and not just time fillers. I became aware of how there were more layers of feelings now, because I wasn’t just enjoying the story on its own, but was also reflecting on a time that I wished I could see again. You know, pre-pandemic. This makes some people sad, but for some reason I was hopeful. I enjoyed seeing better days, and good people finding love.

Doing that, I found the answer to my questions and concerns about releasing a book this time, this year. Yes, there was definitely going to be an audience for a new romance, because I had voraciously consumed so much of it for comfort. Yes, it might have to be a new set of readers, and some may be reading it with a layer of sadness. But the important thing was to make sure the book was out there, and ready when its readers are.

SO FORWARD is about former figure skater Colin, who is now secretly taking his MBA and is about to defend his final paper, about providing more funding to the Philippine national teams representing winter sports. It’s a paper that’s strong on principle but weak on business, so his thesis adviser gets some help for him, in the form of future CEO/MBA prof/former hockey player Lexa. When I was writing it (pre-pandemic), I was exploring what we consider defaults not just in the romance genre but in life in the Philippines. The theme of this book had always been about questioning what we accepted as the default, and if we could expand our definition of it to include more ways to be. And let people thrive even if they aren’t exactly as we expect. Colin is also my first bisexual main character, and though the book’s plot has nothing to do with it, it naturally fits the theme of seeing the value in people and what they do. Our romance-writing community in the Philippines is diverse and we have many groups writing romance of all kinds, but we’re also at the point where many are writing romance as a response to real life, real injustice, and how love can be found—and sustained—despite all this.

The reason why I wrote the book remains relevant—maybe that was enough reason to release it, even if this particular time is so different and many things are uncertain. I’ve since said this to other authors also worried about their books right now. We had a reason to write it then, and the book may still entertain/comfort/help someone now. Maybe more than ever.

*So Forward is available worldwide in digital and paperback on Amazon and other retailers. To order the print edition in the Philippines, go to this form:


*August Romance


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