Angel C. Aquino has been crafting stories in her head and on paper ever since she was a little girl. After she graduated from college, she pursued her passion for words by working in the publishing industry, and later became the managing editor of several magazines such as Candy, Runner’s World Philippines, and Good Housekeeping Philippines. Her short story, “The Bucket List” was published in the Summit Books anthology, Coming of Age.
Love At First Run is her first novel. Though this story is not based on her life, it’s inspired by some events that transpired in 2005, when she joined AMCI Mountaineering Club. She just wanted to climb mountains, but she didn’t know she had to run as part of the training! Since then, she has grown to love running, which relieves her stress and inspires her to come up with new story ideas. So far, she has finished one full marathon and several half marathons in the Philippines and abroad.
Today, she is a freelance writer, editor, and content creator based in Manila. She believes she can make her tiny corner of the world just a little bit brighter by writing stories filled with positivity, hope, and love.
What is your full name?
Angel C. Aquino
When is your birthday?
Japanese food, especially sushi and ramen. I love chocolate too!
Pilgrim’s Theme by Bukas Palad
Favorite TV show?
I watch a lot of shows, but I’m currently obsessing over Terrace House and Something in the Rain.
Favorite place to read and/or write?
I read in my bedroom. I usually write on my work desk at home, but I like writing in quiet coffee shops too.
The Harry Potter series. I’ve read all seven books at least three times already!
Who are you when you’re writing?
I’m a Goddess of Light. I want to give my readers a beam of hope, love, and positivity through my stories. (Trivia: “Goddess of Light” was actually the name of the very first blog I put up many, many years ago!)
Who are you when you’re not writing?
I’d like to think that I’m still the Goddess of Light and that I continue to be a positive force, not just through my words, but also through my actions.
Which do you prefer more?
I don’t necessarily prefer one over the other because there are a lot of things I love to do—I’m also a runner, a traveler, a wife, a daughter. But no matter what role I take on, I always have to be writing. Whether it’s a fictional story, a blog post, or a private journal entry, writing allows me to process my thoughts and feelings and helps me make sense of the world. The Goddess of Light can’t shine bright in the real world if she doesn’t write first.
What drives you to write more?
When I have an idea in my head that I can’t stop thinking about, I know I have to start writing it. Also, when a person or experience inspires me, it makes me want to write more.
How often do you experience writer’s block and what do you do to get out of it?
I usually experience writer’s block at the beginning of every story. Even when I already have an idea, it takes a while for my writing muscles to warm up. I’ve learned that the best way to beat writer’s block is to just sit down and write whatever you can, even if it sucks. Write every day, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Eventually, your writing muscles will get used to it and the words will flow easier.
Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your work?
Yes. Since I am also an editor, I can’t help but edit my work to death. I’ve had to learn to be a little more lenient during the writing process. I tell myself to write first and edit later.
Do you like making outlines when you write, or do you prefer to start from scratch and work your way from there?
I like making outlines. They’re very useful when I’m writing a novel. Even if I end up changing things as I go along, just having that structure and knowing my end goal motivates me to finish what I started. (Most of the stories I started writing on a whim with no real outline never got finished!)
If you could do both at the same speed, which would you prefer: Writing on paper or typing your words? Why?
Typing my words. It just makes editing neater and easier. I’m super OC and I hate having erasures, even on my planner or journal!
What is the best writing advice that you could share with us?
Be brave. Don’t be scared to share your story with others because the world needs your voice. No other author has the same experiences as you, and somebody out there will be able to appreciate and relate to what you have to say. As author Neil Gaiman once said, “Start telling the stories that only you can tell—because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you… but you are the only you.”
Of all the things that you’ve ever written (poems, essays, short stories, novels, etc.), which one is the most special to you?
My first novel, Love at First Run, is definitely the most special. I’ve written a lot of articles for magazines and websites, but they never really felt like my own thing. I always had to follow a brief and cater to their brand’s market. My novel is the first story I could truly call my own. Self-publishing made it even more special because I was able to dictate what I wanted to put on the cover and the inside pages.
ON HER BOOKS
What inspired the idea of your first book, Love at First Run?
The story was inspired by my own running experiences. Like my character Diana, I was not a natural-born runner. The only reason I started running was when I joined a mountaineering club. I only wanted to climb mountains—I didn’t know I had to run as part of the training program. Eventually though, I fell in love with running. And I met my husband, who became my forever running buddy, at that club!
What message would you like your readers to learn from that book?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and leave your comfort zone because amazing things will happen when you do. It’s definitely not going to be easy—because nothing worth achieving is ever easy—but you are stronger than you think You have what it takes to overcome obstacles and reach your goal.
Did your background in publishing influence or help your journey in self-publishing Love at First Run?
Most definitely! Since my book is for a relatively young audience, it helped that I had years of experience writing for and working with young people. Working in magazines also honed my skills when it came to editing and knowing what images would look good in print. My book editor, Ines Bautista-Yao, was also my former boss in Candy!
What are the similarities and differences in your experience as a writer for Candy and as an author of a #romanceclass book?
Writing for Candy was fun, but we usually had to stick to a set theme every month. There were only certain topics we could write about since the magazine catered to a very specific audience. With #romanceclass, I had more ownership of my work. Though the writing workshops do have a general theme we have to follow, there is more freedom to play around with it.
What is the greatest challenge that you have encountered in the publishing world and how did you overcome it?
As a self-published author, my biggest challenge is marketing. I sometimes feel shy about promoting my book, though I know it’s an essential part of the process. There are so many techniques I have yet to learn!
ON BOOK DISCRIMINATION
How would you define book discrimination?
I think book discrimination is about shunning or not being open to reading books outside your usual reading list.
How do you feel about it?
I have to admit that I’m sometimes guilty of this. For a long time, I only read traditionally published books that had a wide audience already. That’s why I’m grateful that through #romanceclass, I was able to discover great books that I never would have found if I didn’t go outside my “book comfort zone.”
What do you think is the cause of book discrimination?
Maybe some readers are afraid to try new authors or read books that their friends aren’t reading. That’s why it’s so important for us to promote diverse and indie-published books so that more people will discover them.
What would you do against it?
I’ll do as much as I can to promote indie authors that I love. At the same time, I’ll also try to read more books outside the mainstream.
Fill in the blanks with a book recommendation. More people should read ________ by ________ because ________.
More people should read #romanceclass books [contemporary romance in English written by Filipino authors] because they offer a unique view into Philippine life and culture. Plus, they’ve got all the feels, the hot girls and guys, and the happy endings!
Ms. Angel, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. From giving me a chance to read your book to participating in my blog event despite your busy schedule, I am truly grateful. ❤
Read my review for Love at First Run here.