Brigitte Bautista's Favorite Reads

Written by: Carla De Guzman/Monday, Jul 09, 2018 02:16 AM

June may be over but we don’t mind celebrating love in all forms all year round. Bestselling Filipina author Brij Bautista, whose book, “Don’t Tell My Mother,” an F/F romance, debuted in Philippine bookstores and became an instant hit. It was quite possibly the first lesbian novel to make it into the mainstream Philippine publication scene. Brij talks about her journey as an author and the books that inspired and encouraged her to write her own novel.

 

A post shared by Brij Bautista (@brijbautista) on

What is your day job? What got you on the path to writing?

I work as a software engineer, chained to a desk, busting out code on the daily. I started writing at a very young age. I copied quotes off posters, wrote captions on photos, and created stories about anything, really. As I grew up, I kind of caught on that this was something I really loved to do. I was on the school paper in high school. I stopped for a bit when I was in college, crawling my way to an engineering degree, but got back to it after I graduated.

I saw a Facebook post about the Anvil #SparkNA writing workshop and told myself what the hell, let’s give this a go. So, I did. And, luckily, they took a chance on the manuscript I submitted and published “Don’t Tell My Mother.”  

As the bestselling author of “Don’t Tell My Mother,” your book broke ground in the local romance scene for LGBT+.

Don’t Tell My Mother is pretty much about growing up queer in a conservatively Christian environment. Sam, the main character is at that tipping point where she’s followed her mother’s footsteps all her life, but is now starting to question the way she was raised and the person she was becoming.

What was your inspiration for the story?

For this novel, I took inspiration from my Catholic school upbringing. I’ve always wanted to write about that experience – the color, the humor, the strangeness, the confusion – but I didn’t think it was fair to poke fun at it for the sake of poking fun. So, it took until the Anvil workshop, mentored by the awesome Mina V. Esguerra of #romanceclass, for all of it to come together.

 

How did the positive response to your book make you feel?

The positive response to the book warms the heart, for sure. More than that, it makes me hopeful that the space for queer narratives, especially about women, would continue to expand. Twitter has served as a gateway for me; I love being on Twitter and learning from the daily conversations and threads there. Every time I see someone reading “Don’t Tell My Mother” or repping F/F novels on their feed, I get really excited. It inspires me to expand that space, whether it be by creating my own stories or supporting authors who are.

What challenges do you encounter as an LGBT+ author and how are you overcoming them?

Representation and visibility are still the biggest challenges. The LGBT+ community is terribly underrepresented in local TV, music, literature. What compounds the challenge is that the little representation we do get mostly play on harmful stereotypes: the lesbian turning to women because she’s had abusive relationships with men. Predatory gay men. Using bisexuality as a plot twist, and cause for a relationship to crumble. Drawing trans characters as deceptive, duplicitous individuals. Queer people don’t get a happy ending in these stories; in the worst of them, they die in the end. Perpetuating these stereotypes is dangerous, especially when the public depends on these narratives to form a picture of the LGBT+ community.

That’s why using our stories to subvert these stereotypes is important. Creating and supporting the representation we want to see is crucial. Just this year, I had the opportunity to contribute to an F/F, M/M, nonbinary/F anthology for #romanceclass, a writing community of Filipino authors and readers of romance. Ten contemporary romance stories, all with happy endings. For me, that anthology was such a breakthrough; a breath of fresh air, and something to be hopeful about. 

Who are the LGBT+ authors you look up to the most and why?

Jeanette Winterson, author of “Powerbook” and “Written on the Body,” comes to mind. I love how she writes so simply – no big words or anything – but can hit you so deeply and evoke all the feelings.

I’ve also followed Sarah Waters’s works after reading her period romance, “Tipping The Velvet.” That book was an absolute adventure, and the way she writes transports you into that place and time in London, even if you haven’t been there. I love it when authors make you feel like that.

Twitter has also introduced me to authors like M. Hollis, Rebekah Weatherspoon, and Shakira Sison. Every day comes with new recommendations. I try to soak up and read as much as I can. I’m reading more F/F romance now, thanks to Twitter, haha.

What are your top 5 LGBT+ romance reads that you can recommend to others who will be reading LGBT+ romance for the first time?

Start Here anthology by #romanceclass authors

                                                    
 

This anthology is unapologetically queer, happy endings guaranteed. It’s all Filipino characters, moving in different settings, taking on different roles. Whatever your jam is – meeting a cute guy in a K-Pop concert, having a steamy first encounter in a sex club or falling in love with someone in your past – there’s a story in here for you.

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

                                                          
 

In Treasure, shy baby butch Alexis meets Treasure, the stripper from her sister’s bachelorette party, and then finds out that they share a class in university. I loved the positive portrayal of sex workers in this novel; Trisha Hamilton/Treasure was built as a strong, empowered woman who worked her way to college. You don’t get that a lot in the local scene; sex workers are almost often villainized and stigmatized in most narratives. So, this one was a welcome break.

The differences between Alexis and Trisha play off so well that you just can’t help but root for them until the end, despite all the difficulties. This also has a hint of family drama in it, especially on Alexis’s side of things. And, the sex here is Off. The. Hook.

Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

If you’re looking for a period novel with a lesbian romance, these two are for you. These are my favorite Sarah Waters novels, because the main characters are compelling enough for you to keep reading. They’re headstrong and stubborn, street-smart but then they make bad judgments that leave them in compromising situations.

                                                        

In “Tipping the Velvet,” you’ve got Nan Astley, an oyster girl who leaves home to follow a theater actress-slash-male-impersonator she fell in love with. That starts her off on an adventure through the streets of London, where she discovers herself and owns her sexuality.

                                                        

In “Fingersmith,” you’ve got Sue Trinder, a pickpocket who poses as a maid to perform a scam on Maud Lilly, a wealthy heiress. The job gets complicated when feelings and treachery and double-crossing get involved. But, oh my gosh, the dialogue at the end of this one are still one of my favorite endings ever.

A&B by J.C. Lillis

                                                         

This enemies-to-lovers story between two rivals in an American Idol-ish competition is such a fun read. I loved how Barrie, the main character, starts off as antagonistic – she literally wrote a whole musical out of her envy and bitterness toward Ava, the love interest – and then, the layers to her character are fleshed out as the story progresses. Also, the dialogue in this one is fueled by wit, humor, and unresolved sexual tension.

Such nice additions to our TBR pile! Want to connect with Brigitte? @ her on Twitter. Happy reading!

About Carla De Guzman
Carla de Guzman is the author of self-published books Cities, Marry Me Charlotte B! and We Go Together. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family by day. By night, she’s writer and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk. Follow her on Instagram (@somemidnights) for more!
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