“A woman starts over after the end of her marriage in Gabriel’s debut contemporary romance novel . . . the author’s narrative voice is engaging, and readers will root for Gabby and Colt to find happiness. A sexy and often compelling love story . . . ”

Kirkus Reviews

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I remember this moment vividly.  I grew up and studied in the Philippines, and so English was not my first language.  But one day in class, my English teacher asked if anyone in the room wanted to be a writer someday.  I was not the best in class by any means, not even in the top ten, but I raised my hand.  Nervously at first, and when all heads turned to me, I raised my hand higher. Something clicked in me. I got excited. I was fourteen years old. Since then, I’ve been actively pushing to follow that dream. 

What is your book about?

AFTER PERFECT is a story of Gabby – a woman who’s been broken and yet found ways to rise above it all – slowly, faithfully, and lovingly without blaming anyone.  In her story, there is no villain. It was simply a matter of fate.  

It is also about family and friendships and love – and not necessarily the kinds that we understand.  In AFTER PERFECT , the concepts of family and friends are redefined and love has been showcased as multi-dimensional. 

What do you hope other people will take away from reading your book?

Inspiration. To find beauty after the storm, to appreciate love from a different angle, and to see ourselves as the center of a beautiful universe.

I want Gabby to be a reflection of every woman – may she be at her highest, but more importantly, during her lowest. This book aims to empower women to find that spark within that could inspire themselves, and ultimately, others. Gabby embodies everything I aim to be – her kindness, her forgiving heart, her love for family and friends, and most meaningfully, her love for self.  

Also, I want to be part of the evolution in creating a bigger space for diverse voices in the arts. The goal is here is to normalize Filipino American representation in mainstream literary fiction space. I hope readers will love our stories, too. 

How long did it take to write your book?

The actual writing ran for about four years, on and off.  When I started, there was no plan after “the end.” I was writing as a form of self-healing.  The initial idea, really, was to start journaling as I go through perimenopause in my late thirties. It was a difficult time for me as a woman, and I needed a creative outlet to vent my emotions. Then when I finished, I was faced with such a startling question:  Should I let other people into my heart? I did, and I’m glad. 

What was the biggest challenge in writing your book?

The biggest hurdle for me when I was writing AFTER PERFECT was imposter syndrome. I questioned myself at every step. What was my motive?  What was my end goal?  Did I actually believe I will get a book deal and get published? I edged toward failure because I doubted myself. But the interesting fact about this ordeal is that Gabby, my main character, helped me through it. 

Gabby and I grew together in this book.  When I started writing, she was the least character I know. I was able to easily develop everyone around her – her ex-husband, her friends, her parents – but I had a hard time creating her.  It was only when I opened to her, saw her challenges, made decisions with her, and saw life from her eyes that my perspective shifted. I am a writer and I should own it. I finally recognized the power of my creation and it gave me the freedom to take my story to the next level and eventually all the way ‘til the end. And now, here we are. 

What is your favorite book in the same genre as your work?

I love all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. In fact, I began toying with the idea of writing fiction after I read her book Maybe in Another Life. 

What’s next for you?

My second book, TWELVE HOURS IN MANHATTAN, is one of the finalists of STEP, She Writes Press and SparksPress Toward Equality in Publishing.  To be in this list of remarkable BIPOC authors is such an honor.  

TWELVE HOURS IN MANHATTAN is a story about two very different people, from two very distinct worlds, with the same need to alter their lives. They meet and spend twelve hours in Manhattan together – they talk about life, love and happiness, and the freedom they seek to fully exist and not merely survive.  It’s scheduled for a Spring 2023 release date. I’m so excited!  

How can our readers get a copy of your book?

AFTER PERFECT is now available to order wherever books are sold.  Make sure you check out Bookshop.org and get it from your favorite independent bookstore. 

What is the best way for our readers to connect with you?

One of the best things I gained from this amazing author journey is the community – from readers to writers and editors.  This community is all about support and love and encouragement.  They have empowered me to stay focused and to reach that final destination.  So, yes, I would love to connect with all readers and writers alike. 

Website:  www.maangabriel.com  

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