Angeli E. Dumatol has always believed in the healing power of stories and smiles, so she tries to do her part in filling the world with both through her writing. Life has taught her about two types of bravery: being brave enough to stay and being brave enough to leave. She hopes to continue living life with courage and to inspire others to do the same. Her YA novella, HEARTSTRUCK, is a story about friendship and being true to one’s self, and features the Filipino martial art of arnis.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novella, Heartstruck? What made you want to tell this story?
Angeli E. Dumatol: This book is actually a product of #romanceclassYA, in which we were challenged to write about a Filipino thing we haven’t seen in a YA novel before. Knowing the importance of good and proper representation, I eagerly took on the task. For Heartstruck, I took inspiration from the arnis class I had for P.E. back in college. I admittedly took the class just to fill up a spot in my schedule and to stick with my block mates, but I ended up really enjoying and appreciating the sport, despite not having much talent for it! At the end of it all, I ended up with a novella that celebrated young love and love for one’s self, all in the background of the national sport and martial art of the Philippines.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
AED: Through my stories, I want readers to be able to gain hope and courage to continue growing and becoming their best selves through whatever challenges life brings upon them. I’ve always believed that stories have the ability to heal, and I continue writing with the thought that one day, my words will be that dose of warmth and comfort that somebody needed.
V: What was the hardest scene of Heartstruck to write?
AED: All of the scenes that featured the characters doing arnis were quite challenging to write, in that I had to find a way to accurately describe the movements while at the same time, avoid sounding dull and mechanical. To choreograph certain scenes, I also had to do a lot of research: watching a lot of videos, reading about arnis rules and guidelines, looking into competitions, and interviewing practicing arnisadors. I am very happy with how the scenes turned out in the book though, especially the part where Alexa and Theo have their anyo showdown.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
AED: That your words have power and that your stories are valid, no matter what anybody else may say. That if you continue doing your best, learning from all the things you go through in life, you’ll be able to find your people, and they will support you and love your work. Never be afraid to try. Never be afraid to dream.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
- My laptop—I’m a Word kind of girl.
- My writing playlist that consists of classical music and instrumental versions of my favorite songs (right now, it’s full of BTS piano!)
- A hard copy of my outline, annotated with lots of notes
- A handy tickler notepad for when I’m out, so I can easily jot down ideas that come
- Pen of Choice: Pilot Acroball (always has been since med school days)
- Lots of breaks for stretching and sanity