Sunday, July 17, 2016

Interview with #HeistClub Facilitator Mina V. Esguerra

*This is the full transcript of the author interview, parts of which came out in in an article in Manila Bulletin titled Criminal Minds last July 11, 2016.

Romance queen Mina V. Esguerra initiated an online class; but instead of all the usual feels, she went on a different route, and set out to stir trouble.

Esguerra author of Young Adult (Interim Goddess of Love) and contemporary romance novels (Fairy Tale Fail, The Harder We Fall) helmed an online writing class where sixteen crime stories where produced.

Why crime? Why did you choose this genre?
I enjoyed reading it, and have dabbled in writing it. I'm not alone in this and apparently many authors were up for it, but were maybe overwhelmed by the research and procedure aspect of crime fiction. So I tried to provide a basic set of resources for the authors, that would make it easier to start writing their stories.

Mina V. Esguerra

You yourself is a mentor, but was it hard to get insights from other mentors (FH Batacan, Jennifer Hiller, etc)? How so? 
It wasn't difficult reaching out to established authors Jennifer Hillier and FH Batacan. I knew people who knew them and worked with them, and once they found out about the class they were happy to share their advice.

Do you think that there is a market here in the Philippines for crime? 
I think if we can watch Hollywood movies about it, and read foreign crime fiction books, then there will be an audience for the kind of crime fiction that #HeistClub authors wrote.

When comparing readership to your online (romance, YA, etc) books, how does the Philippine market fare?
What are the top countries which hou sell the most? Anyone already on Amazon is probably already paying for ebooks, and that's why it's been easier for years to just market to Amazon's audience which is primarily international. But the Philippine market is still substantial, in terms of sheer number of readers. When a free story can get thousands (or over 100,000!) downloads and reads just within our country, and then the challenge becomes producing something that a percentage of them will be willing to pay for.

Was it hard to encourage writers to join and finish their stories? What were the challenges? Over 30 authors signed up for #HeistClub and about half of them completed stories. That's an awesome enough turnout and finishing rate, but a romance class for example will get 100 interested authors. I guess it's so far been a genre that many authors think is difficult to start with, so they don't. I hope the story of the #HeistClub class makes it seem a little more accessible.

How do you think can we get the Philippine market to read crime (and even romance for that matter)? 
Write good books and get them in the hands of people who already like reading them, or were curious to begin with. I'm not for converting the uninterested--this was done for fun and we welcome readers who approach the process of reading and discovering new books with the same spirit of fun and joy.

What other genres will you be exploring? 
I'm not sure yet if we should do more genres or just do a batch 2 of the classes we already tried!

Other things that you would like to share.
Anyone interested in reading the books should go buy the ebook anthologies on If you buy from Amazon, you can also support the authors there. Here's a list of what's available:

For more about #HeistClub:

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