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How 'Kingdom Hearts' Inspired Onneechan To Create The 'Emerald' Series
This top Pop Fiction books author says: “Writing should be, in the first place, a way to self-express.”

Onnechan is a master world-builder and mystery writer, and she applies this knowledge to creating characters and stories that stick to a reader for a long time. In this author Q&A, the Scarlet author talks about love, movies, books, storytelling and the writer’s life.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the author of the Special Section series and the Emerald series. I'm also the co-author of The Ceyla Chronicles: Helios Murders. I started writing on Wattpad when I was in high school where almost everyone in school was addicted to e-books. I’m also the kind of person who believes in the existence of aliens, mermaids, multiverse dimensions, and other supernatural creatures.

When you’re not writing, what do you do?

When I’m not writing and when I’m not at work, I spend most of my time online—either playing online games, watching something on Netflix, laughing at someone’s Youtube vlog, or simply enjoying a good read in Wattpad.

What do you look for in a romantic partner?

I want the kind of connection where even if we don’t think alike and even if we don’t always agree on everything, we still “get” each other. Someone who gives enough assurance for me to forget my insecurities. Someone I can be comfortable with—comfortable enough for me to call him home.

What are your favorite books, movies, or TV shows?

Every holiday season, I have this tradition of doing a movie marathon. It’s either I watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies, all eight Harry Potter movies, every single movie in the Marvel cinematic universe (in chronological order), or all of the Jurassic Park movies. I think it’s safe to say that those are my favorite movies. When it comes to TV shows, my current favorite is The Haunting of Hill House. It’s so well-directed, the actors and actresses are great, and the story itself messed with my mind.

Who are your fave authors, writers, or storytellers?

I love all of Nicholas Sparks’ works. His writing kind of stayed in my heart, to the point that I made it a habit to re-read at least one of his works every year. I also like John Green. He always creates fun and unique characters. For fantasy and adventure books, I like Rick Riordan.

Where do you get ideas/inspirations for your stories?

Most of the time, I get inspired while listening to music. Music helps me create certain scenarios or characters, which slowly turn into story plots. For example, a scene in Scarlet was formed while I was listening to Kodaline’s song called “All I Want.”

What’s the most important writing advice that you’ve ever been given?

That writing should be, in the first place, a way to self-express.

What kind of writer are you? Are you a plotter/outliner writer or a pantser/discovery writer? Why?

I think I’m a little bit of both. I always start with making outlines for the story, making timelines and notes, but then I kind of change the direction of the story based on what I feel is right. There are times that I already planned what to write for a certain chapter, but when I’m in front of the computer, I just let my imaginations do its thing.

Are there stories/ideas that you’ve always wanted to write about?

I’ve always wanted to write a story that connects with a reader on a level where it stays with them for a long time. I want to write something that they can relate to. Since last year, I’ve had the desire to write about a group of misfits trying to figure out life after college. I just hope I finally have the courage to actually start writing it. Haha!

How do you write—and finish—stories, even if you have a full-time job?

Getting inspired always helps in writing. I always make sure to have time to watch movies or read books just so I could fuel myself with ideas. Reading helps writers to self-improve. The only tip I can give is to always make time doing what you love, even if you have a full-time job.

Is there any scene or character or chapter that you regret writing and including in this story? Which one and why?

Honestly, I wish I gave the villain of the story a longer storyline. I want to justify his actions and make the readers understand why he did what he did. If I could, I would love to write a prequel about the antagonist.

Are there scenes or characters or story lines that were based on real life? How much of those were used in the writing of this story?

I incorporated most of my favorite things in the world of the Emerald series: field of flowers, glistening lakes, the twinkle of fireflies at night, the colors of the sunset, the warmth of a hug, and the connection you form with friends.

What was the most difficult thing or scene or character to write in this story? Which was the easiest?

Writing the fight scenes was such a headache for me! I’m just so bad at describing the epic battle scene that I created in my head. The easiest was creating the world itself.

Which did you make first when you were writing the Emerald series? The world-building, plot, or characters? Why?

I started with the world-building first. The whole story started with the concept of the world that I created. I was playing a game called Kingdom Hearts, and I suddenly thought of creating a story where it takes place in a world where every fantasy creature or character exists. After that, I started creating the plot and the characters.

Is the setting important for the overall creation of your stories especially for the Emerald series? Why?

Yes! The setting created the whole mood of the story. For example, if I wanted a heartfelt scene for the characters, the setting should be in a quiet place to set the mood. I wanted the world to be completely different from reality, and it’s the overall concept of the Emerald series.

Is there an unexplored part in the world of Emerald and Scarlet that you would like to explore further in future stories?

I would like to explore other kingdoms. The Emerald series is mostly focused on the Middle Kingdom. I want to create separate stories about the Ice Wizards of the North, the Vampires of the South, the Elves of the East, and the Bird Shifters of the West. I want to show the difference of the world they live in and the unique abilities of their race.

Do you believe in love at first sight in love stories?

Honestly, I don’t. What I believe in is attraction at first sight. Interest and love just naturally follows next.

What’s the difference between love stories and romantic stories?

I think romance stories often focused on the romantic relationship of the leads. It is the plot and the point of the story. I feel like most romance stories guarantee a happy ending. On the other hand, love stories don’t only focus on romantic love. It can showcase other things at stake besides love, and the leads may or may not end up with each other in the end.

What is love?

I read this quote somewhere: “Love is the condition wherein the happiness of another is essential to your own (Robert A. Heinlein).” I’ve always liked that definition because love is doing something for that person not because you choose to or because you want to, but because it is impossible for you to do anything else. It is staying up late because you know they’re not home yet. Love is giving them your favorite food because you know they love it too. Love is when you listen to a song, and it instantly reminds you of them. Love is seeing the imperfections and accepting them anyway.

Can friends become lovers? Why?

Yes, they can. I actually prefer being friends first before becoming lovers. In friendship, you find common ground. You get to know someone first. You’re already comfortable with the company, and you already have memories together. I believe there will always be a point where you will have to choose: Do I want to stay as a close friend or do I want to get out of the friend zone?

How do you get over a lost love?

Allow yourself to be sad. There’s nothing wrong with crying and showing weakness. Suppressed feelings hurt us more. You have to accept the fact that you cannot control everything. You can’t just force things to happen. What you can control is yourself. Distract yourself. Do something you love, watch funny videos, go to places you’ve always wanted to visit, talk to your friends, eat good food, and look for the things that make you laugh. At the end of the day, do not blame yourself.

Emerald, Scarlet, Special Section 1, Special Section 2, and The Ceyla Chronicles: Helios Murders are available on Shopee, Lazada, and the Summit Books Shop in e-book for P165 and print book format for P199.

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Want to find out more about Onneechan's books? Read our book descriptions below!

Scarlet

In Scarlet’s story, she is a regular girl destined to save a magical world, and living a fairy tale life—saving a princess from her deceptive captor, trespassing into a friendly bear’s home for food, and convincing a man-beast to give up his most precious possession—is just another once-upon-a-time in the kingdom. Magsisimula na naman ang digmaan sa pagitan ng Dark and Light Kingdoms, at dahil sa propesiyang nagdudugtong sa kapalaran niya kay Clyde, ang prinsipe ng Middle Kingdom, mapipilitan si Scarlet na pumili ng kakampi. Pero may ibang sikreto rin ang bumabalot sa pagkatao niya. At sa kwento ni Scarlet, the real enemy is the last person she expects.

Emerald

In Emerald's story, she is the princess whisked away on her 18th birthday to a new and magical world where living the fairy tale life—helping a mermaid princess, kissing a frog prince, and defeating a gorgon with snakes for hair—is just another once-upon-a-time in the kingdom. Kailangan nang kalimutan ng prinsesa ang dating buhay niya bilang regular na batang babae sa real world, lalo na’t magsisimula na ang kanyang sariling fairy tale bilang susunod na reyna ng kanyang kaharian. At sa kwento ni Emerald, the princess needs no prince to get her happily-ever-after, but Matt, her knight-in-shining-armor, might just be enough.

Ceyla Chronicles: Helios Murders

Just a few hours’ drive from Orlando and you will find yourself in Helios, a land of magic and lore, where a plethora of extraordinary races flourish, and where mystery is always afoot. And who better to guide you in this enchanting otherworld than our resident detective and supernatural expert, Ceyla Ward. Witness as she battles the elements, stands in the line of fire between warring clans, and stops ancients from spreading their evil blood magic across the realm. She’s a green-eyed, bedaggered blonde who moonlights as a paranormal soldier-seer, but at the end of the day, we realize that the real enigma is the one of herself. Through the smoking barrels of her double derringer, watch as she fights her way to uncover the greatest mystery of them all – her own past.

Special Section 1

When Rhianne Cortes transferred to the prestigious Hillton University, she was surprised to be a part of the Special Section, ang klase kung saan pinagsama-sama ang lahat ng pinakagwapo, pinakamaganda, pinakamatalino, at pinakamayamang estudyante ng paaralan nila. But she soon learns that behind her new classmates’ angelic faces is a demonic secret, one that can lead to her death. Habang isa-isang namamatay ang mga kaklase at kaibigan niya, Rhianne must find the truth behind the lies, deception and betrayals… before the killer finds her.

Special Section 2

More than a year after the brutal deaths of their teacher and classmates, Rhianne Cortes and her friends, Maxwell, Alexander and Louisse, thought that they have finally moved on from their horrifying past. Pero, nagbago ang lahat nang biglang nawala si Rhianne at isa-isang namatay ang mga taong nakapaligid sa kanila. As the group struggles to find Rhianne, stop the killings, and escape death once more, they discover strange things about the person they thought they knew. Is an old killer back to take revenge? Or are they facing a new enemy—an enemy pretending to be a friend?

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