Move over, ‘Twilight’: Best-selling author of teen novels makes surprise visit to ManilaBy Alyosha J. Robillos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Since finishing reading her first Judy Blume book, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” at the age of 12, all Alyson Noël wanted to be was a writer.
Now on her 20th title, Noël has become one of the most popular authors in contemporary Young Adult literature with a number of her best-selling novel-series recently bagging film rights through Summit Entertainment (now owned by Lionsgate), the same entertainment studio responsible for the “Twilight Saga” and “The Hunger Games.”
Demand rose for Noël’s novels. Film opportunities and the prospect of future published works came pouring in, along with an international book tour, which, at first, did not include the Philippines.
But through the efforts of Xandra Ramos Padilla, National Book Store purchasing director for books, Filipino fans had the delight of meeting and greeting the author last July 20 at Powerbooks in Greenbelt 4 for a public forum and book-signing session.
“Teens is a very big category for us and fortunately, it still a growing category, and we’d do whatever it’ll take to encourage reading among teens,” Padilla said.
For Noël, her love for reading led her to pursue her writing career, which included years of revising drafts, giving her characters their own pulses, and figuring out what she refers to as the ’Then what?’ of her stories.
“It was about a two-and-a-half-year process of learning the ropes, making every mistake in the book, getting rejected, and starting over again until I finally got my first book deal,” said Noël, who has remained with the same publisher since her first book, “Faking 19,” came out in 2005.
Like her inspiration Judy Blume, Noël’s works have become the well-loved light reads for this generation of young adults.
Although her earlier works such as “Saving Zoë” and “Art Geeks and Prom Queens” had their own following, it was her more recent fantasy-fiction works that took the teen literature scene by storm and hooked readers worldwide.
“The Immortals” series spotlighted the painstaking journey of normal girl-turned-psychic Ever Bloom into accepting the life she was ultimately meant to lead, which in her past lives, was what she would have considered impossible or unreal.
The series was the author’s personal way of dealing with the grief she was experiencing after having lost several loved ones and after finding out that her husband had cancer. At that time, Noël did not even know if she was going to show the first book of the series, “Evermore,” to anyone, let alone her publisher.
“Evermore was my eighth book and it was a surprise hit,” Noel said.
On the other hand, its sister series, “Riley Bloom,” is anchored on “The Immortals” and continues the adventure that Ever’s younger sibling, Riley, embarks on as she chooses to finally cross over to the afterlife.
Both series explore concepts of metaphysics and telepathy. They cover notions of reincarnation, the afterlife, and the soul’s journey as an immortal entity.
The latest series, “The Soul Seekers,” engages readers in the quests of Dare Santos, daughter of a famous Hollywood make-up artist who finds a different life outside the studio, and even beyond reality. It delves into the various aspects of Shamanism and Native American traditions.
All three bestsellers’ film rights have already been auctioned to the same film production outfit.
“I’d be really curious as to how somebody translates Summerland (in “The Immortals”)… what it would look like, or, the upper, lower, middle worlds in “The Soul Seekers” series,” said Noël, who wanted to empower readers through the stories she told and perhaps spark the life-altering interest in writing among young adults, just as Judy Blume had done for her.