Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Author of the Month: Darrel Manuel Marco

Telling stories! Reading aloud! Doing what he loves!
The blog's Author of the Month is Darrel Marco. He is a librarian, storyteller, reading advocate and an adventure-seeker. He goes around the country to tell stories and spread the love of reading. He also has presented papers about libraries and children's literature in Finland and Japan. A lover of life, long adventures and literacy!

The three books in the Bulilit Books series are his first books to be published by the Nutrition Council of the Philippines Publishing Corporation (NCPPC). I am proud to have worked with him on this project. I wouldn't be surprised if one day, we get to see more books from Darrel!

1. Describe the experience of writing your first books

I have been told a million times that it is hard to write children's books. 'Children's stories are more challenging because you have to think of the appropriate language!' 'You always have to consider the contexts of your readers, especially if they're children, it's hard to write stories with sensitive topics.' Thru writing Bulilit Books, my first-ever books soon to be published and read by many, it is true. Writing children's books, or any book, or writing in general are never a walk in the park.

When I was invited to become one of the writers for Bulilit Books, I immediately threw in my blue chip and shouted "I'M IN!" without considering the odds. After all, I have big trust in my writing team, who mostly have experience in writing children's stories (both have won writing awards). Joining a writing team proved to have advantages -- two heads are better than one (!!!) -- and that much of brilliant grey matters give birth to a lot of ideas. Now this is where collaboration, teamwork, and compromise come into play. I appreciate the open communication between our team -- from the storyboards, to the illustrator's studies, revisions back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, and I learned to love Google docs, where we got to collaborate and share ideas.

Darrel in his element: sun, sand and sea!
My favorite part in the whole process got to be the Kid Test. I am not new to the world of children's literature as I have been a librarian and storyteller for a time now, but during this part of the writing process, I took a step back and used my writer's point-of-view. It was a big realization for me that the kids are very critical of what they hear and what they read. They are also very particular with details up to the smallest dot and a misplaced pot. Kids can really tell and they tell it to you bluntly, point-blank without batting an eyelash, nary a smile. Alongside these comments from the kids are the feedback and reviews from the many focus group discussions we have conducted with the teachers and other stakeholders. Indeed, it was a walk in the park. THE. JURASSIC. PARK. But all of those deemed to be very helpful in all our revisions and notes for future projects. After all, it is when we make mistakes that we truly learn [thru feedback, mentoring and constructive criticism, of course.]

As a storyteller, I am used to telling stories from books made by different writers. This time I believe as a writer, it is my stories that will tell who I am.

2. Where do you draw inspiration in writing stories?

It is always the innocent look in a kid's eyes whenever they hear me tell stories that continues to inspire me to tell and eventually write my own stories. Stories are magic. It's the ooohs and aaaahs, the laughter and sadness, the excitement in a kid's eyes that tell me -- Yeah! Push! Go Go Go Para sa Bayan! It is also our vision to inspire more Filipinos, children and adults alike, to read and love reading, and eventually, to write their own stories. Each of us has a story to tell, and these stories can conjure magic. Magic that can teach us compassion, empathy, and love (always!)

 Bulilit Books 2017
3. What are you most excited about the Bulilit Books?

How our kid partners from the Kid Test will react when we show them the before and after of the books. Plus the fact that it will be read and told in Hiligaynon and Cebuano! How exciting!

4. Five books that inspired you to become a writer

I'll make this short:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - I was Bod, lost and did not know where to belong until I found a family.
The Percy Jackson series! by Rick Riordan - I would love to write a Filipino version of this
Oh The Places You'll Go! (or everything) by Dr. Seuss - play with words! The Filipino language has a lot!
Love you forever by Robert Munsch - heartwarming and heart-wrenching
Sandosenang Sapatos / Papel de Liha - books where Filipino traits are being highlighted

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