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Book Author Anne Marla Talks Love, Chasing Dreams, and More!

The 'Hey Stranger' author shares valuable insights from experience!

In a job interview, Anne Marla was asked where she saw herself in five years. “My answer was that I hope I have published a book by then,” she says.

Five years later, she didn’t just publish a book— she published two: the novella Hey Stranger (2020) and her collection of poetry, After Midnight Voices (2021). 

“I know I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have the courage to take that step and submit my work to a publisher,” says the writer, whose day job is managing a team of editors in a themed-vacation website.

“If you’re afraid of getting rejected, then you can also self-publish. There are so many ways to do it. Just don’t give up on your dream.” (Read: How BTS Inspired This Author to Write Best-Selling Fanfics)

The young author (who lives partly in the Philippines and partly in her husband’s native India) chats with My Pope Philippines about upcoming work, who would play Sam and Charles if Hey Stranger were made into a movie, and chasing dreams.

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Photo from Anne Marla Instagram

What are you working on now?

I am trying to write the sequel of Hey Stranger. I wasn’t planning on writing it, actually, but then a few weeks ago, I picked it up again and I liked how it was going so I went on with it. It still needs an ending but I kind of have the idea in mind. Hopefully, I can finish that soon!

To be honest, though, I have a lot of things in the pipeline. I am planning to publish a collection of short stories, a novel (once I finish it), and hopefully another poetry collection once I have enough poetry for it. (Read: 5 Podcasts by Empowered, Inspirational Filipinas)

You write in both prose and poetry. Which do you prefer and why?

I don’t think I actually have a preference. I write whichever I feel like writing, to be honest. I do write more poems than prose, though. I started writing them when I was in high school. Writing prose came in a bit later in my life.

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Dreams do come true: Anne Marla is the author of the collection of poetry, After Midnight Voices, and novella, Hey Stranger. (Photo courtesy of subject)

You also write about love. How has your perspective about it changed through the years?

I love writing about love mostly because I am a hopeless romantic. Before, my idea of love was just like in the movies or books. But I as grow older and now that I’m married, I feel like I’ve moved past that. Not entirely, though, but at least now, I understand what love is and how it should be in reality. (Read: 5 Books That Teach Kids the Complexities of Love)

Love is not all cheeky and sweet surprises. It takes a whole lot of effort and two people who really don’t want to give up on each other, no matter what.

If Hey Stranger were to be made into a movie, who would you want to play Sam and Charles?

For Charles, it’s very easy. It should be Alden Richards because he’s actually the inspiration behind that character. My mother is a huge fan of him so that’s where the story came from. (Read: Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Alden Richards’ religious collection!)

Sam was actually based on me haha. I find it easier to write when I can relate to the characters so I kind of added a few of my characteristics to Sam and her lines were something I would say in real life. I’d love for Kathryn Bernardo to play her. I am personally a fan of her. 

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The author writes when she’s inspired and can leave a story hanging “for months or even years. And then when I get hit by inspiration, I pick them up,” she says. (Photos courtesy of subject and Hello, Love, Goodbye/Star Cinema)

What is your advice to people who dream of writing?

Take that step and put it out there. I think that’s the most important part of it. Because you’ll never know how your dream will turn out unless you take that step. Submit that proposal to a publisher. If you get rejected, then just keep on submitting. Someone will eventually pick it up. (Read: Three female astronauts who’ll inspire you to go after your dreams)

I was lucky enough that my manuscript was picked up by the first publisher I submitted it to, and to Ukiyoto, I am forever grateful. They made my dream come true.

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