Tag Archives: National Book Store

art + music by Ica Rivera

Jasmine Warga has an affinity for the struggles of young women

The author is attuned with teenage complexity in ‘Here We Are Now’

Jasmine Warga is a proud first generation American and self-professed music lover. Her experiences in dealing with anxiety disorder, the death of a close friend, and teaching sixth-grade Science led to the creation of My Heart and Other Black Holes (2015). Her debut novel tells the story of Aysel, a 16-year-old Physics nerd who plots her own death with her suicide partner, Roman. “I was working on the book as an aftermath of being in a raw state of grief. There are a lot of questions that we don’t always ask: what it means to live, what it means to die, and the difference between happiness and meaningfulness. This was a way of processing my own grief and feelings about those questions,” she shares.

After the success of her debut novel came the pressure to write a worthy follow-up. “I’d freak out because I wanted to write a totally different book, while freaking out that my readers weren’t going to like it precisely because it was different,” she says. But eventually, she was able to silence these doubts. “In one of my interviews, I had to talk about the five albums that I loved to listen to as a teenager. That’s when it clicked for me that I should write about music.”

Here We Are Now is about Taliah, a musician who gets to meet her indie rockstar father, Julian, after 16 years of estrangement. While this premise is completely different from her debut novel, Warga showcases how her distinct style and voice can seep through any story. Warga’s love for music reveals itself through her protagonists. “I’m constantly in awe of music because it’s something I could never do, so my love for it finds its way into my books,” she explains.

She’s also drawn to writing about complicated family relations. “I’m interested in how we interact with the people we didn’t choose to be in our lives—how you can love them so unconditionally, while on the other hand, also be so disappointed in them.”

Above all, Warga does not hesitate to ask the big questions and incorporate mature themes in her stories, such as the imminence of death. “The fact that Taliah’s grandfather is dying spurs her father, Julian, to stop wasting time not getting to know his daughter. There are lots of times where people watch someone they love die, and it changes them,” she says. “I think it was Kafka who said, “The end is the point of it all,” and I couldn’t agree more—that death brings meaning to our lives”

Just like in My Heart and Other Black Holes, Warga tells the story from the perspective of teenage girl. “In Aysel, she transforms from being hopeless to hopeful. In Taliah, we see how she learns to accept herself. A big part of the book is learning to love the different versions of yourself as well as learning to love the different versions of others.”

Her next book will be about the coming-of-age of a young woman who’s forced to move from Syria to the USA. “As a first-generation child, I think I’ll always go back to writing about girls wrestling with their identity. Young women are one of the most vulnerable sects of the population, so I want to write books that empower them,” she says.

HERE WE ARE NOW AND JASMINE WARGA’S OTHER TITLES ARE AVAILABLE IN NATIONAL BOOK STORE. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT NATIONALBOOKSTORE.COM, OR CALL 888-8627. JASMINE WARGA IS ON INSTAGRAM AT @JASSIELINA.
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Ica Rivera
Ica thinks acc**nt*ng and f*n*nc* are bad words. She'd rather talk about music, films, or literally anything else.
art + music by Ica Rivera

A Quick Chat with Jennifer E. Smith

Despite publishing nine successful novels, this YA author shares that she never imagined making it big

“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but I never could have imagined it,” says Jennifer E. Smith. With nine published books, an international readership, and an upcoming event in Cebu and Manila this weekend, it’s clear that she’s living the life she never thought she would. Unsurprisingly, it is her realistic mindset combined with her genuine love for writing that made her a success.

“When I was 10, I won a short story contest in school. Since then, I never stopped writing, and always knew I’d write no matter what,” she adds. We caught up with the Young Adult novelist and learned about her latest book, Windfall.

You’ve been writing since you were a kid, but what led you to getting your book published?
I wrote a couple of the books in the years right after college that did not get published. I was crushed about them, then I just picked myself up, dusted myself off and started again. I look back now, and I can’t believe that after my first book got rejected, I just opened up a blank word document and wrote another 400 pages, with no encouragement. Discouragement, even. Then, after that second book was rejected, I just did it again. I mean, thank you, younger me, for doing that. It was a crazy thing to do, but eventually, my third book, The Comeback Season, was published.

You met massive commercial success with your third book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. What changed after publishing your first two books?
My first two books—though I was proud of them—weren’t connecting to the audience, so I took a year off writing. I was hearing about what publishers wanted, but none of them were things I wanted to write. I started writing what I wanted to write. It was simply an idea that popped in my head that I loved. That’s what made the difference—what I thought was the quiet book of my heart that I wasn’t sure anyone would love ended up being my most successful book.

Where did you find the drive to keep on writing?
I look back, and it would be a Sunday afternoon and my friends are hungover on the couch, and then I’d just go in my room and write. Where did I draw that kind of confidence to know that all those hours I was putting in was going lead to something? It could have easily not have, but I wrote and wrote. The heartbeat underneath all of that was the love of it. It has to be first and foremost, something you’d do no matter what—it always was for me. I’m just really lucky that it did end up culminating into the career I have, but I would have kept writing either way.

I noticed that you’re always drawn to themes of fleeting and unlikely romances.
Even when I set out to write something completely different, I find myself coming back to ideas about fate and I like to play around with what ifs, like what if you missed your flight by four minutes ended up meeting someone special because of this? It’s not likely, but it happens. I actually receive so many emails from readers who met their significant others on the plane.

 

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Tell us about Windfall.
It’s about Alice, who has been in love with Teddy, her best friend, for years. On his 18th birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke, but he ends up winning $140 million. In contrast, Alice is someone who won the worst lottery possible in life, being orphaned when she was little. Teddy’s win leads her to ask: Are you always destined to be waiting for the other shoe to drop? Does the world owe us anything, or are these events completely random?

How does Teddy winning the lottery affect their relationship?
They were on the brink on something happening the night before, but when they wake up, everything is different. Teddy, as you might expect from a wayward 18-year-old, went a little crazy with the money. It changes him, and it’s about them finding their way back to each other.

You’ve published a lot of books already. What did you set out to accomplish with Windfall?
In my previous books, you find these themes on fate that I’m always drawn too. This one’s longer, deeper, more emotional, and bigger in scope, which was all intentional. It’s less of the fantasy, which you get at the beginning of the book, and more about the reality behind seemingly fantastic events, like winning a lottery.

CATCH JENNIFER E. SMITH ALONG WITH AUTHOR JASMINE WARGA AT THEIR BOOK SIGNING ON NOVEMBER 11 AT THE GALLERY, AYALA CENTER CEBU, AND NOVEMBER 12, 2PM AT THE SAMSUNG HALL AT SM AURA PREMIER. WINDFALL IS AVAILABLE AT NATIONAL BOOK STORE BRANCHES NATIONWIDE. JENNIFER E. SMITH IS ON INSTAGRAM AT @JENNIFERESMITH
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Ica Rivera
Ica thinks acc**nt*ng and f*n*nc* are bad words. She'd rather talk about music, films, or literally anything else.
art + music by Sam Potenciano

Art in the Fort

National Book Store’s Art Bar is the creative haven we’ve been waiting for.

Currently on its soft opening with a formal launch slated for next month, Art Bar in Serendra has already been turning more than a few heads. art bar 4IMG_2806-2Sitting in the center of the open space that previously housed Powerbooks, this sun-drenched creative haven is just the first in a planned series of National Book Store concept stores that are set to open shop in 2017.art bar 2art bar 1This two-story specialty store is a dream come true for art aficionados of every skill level. From its first floor, which houses everything from artsy coffee-table books and once-hard-to-find inks and pens, to its roomy second level dedicated to easels and other paint-related materials, Art Bar is, as National Book Store Managing Director Xandra Ramos puts it, a place that “has everything you need to exercise your creativity and elevate your artistry.” She goes on to add that, “Whatever medium your art takes, we have something for you.”IMG_2884art bar 5As if flooding your senses with every conceivable art supply known to man wasn’t enough, Art Bar also paired up with Toby’s Estate to provide an al fresco dining area where you can soak in the ambiance over a hot cup of Single Origin coffee.IMG_2830art bar 3

Produced and styled by Sam Potenciano
Photos by Ralph Mendoza

ART BAR IS LOCATED AT 1F SERENDRA, MCKINLEY PARKWAY, BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY. FOLLOW THEM ON INSTAGRAM AT @ARTBARPH.
Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano
Sam is the digital editor of L’Officiel Manila. Formerly the founding editor of The Neighborhood and the editor-in-chief of Candy magazine, she is also a columnist for The Philippine Star's Young Star section. Follow her on Instagram at @sampotenciano.