STA talks to YA novel Chloe and the Kaishao Boys author Mae Coyiuto. She shares to us what inspired her to become a writer, her Kaishao experience, the lessons she learned from rejections, and many more.
STA: Please give us a background about yourself
Mae: I’m the author of the upcoming young adult rom-com novel, Chloe and the Kaishao Boys (releasing March 2023).
STA: What inspired you to become a writer?
Mae: I grew up in a family who loved stories. My mom was a literature major and I watched my sisters breeze through so many books a week. Having been raised in that culture, I think it was inevitable for me to fall in love with storytelling. As someone who has always been really shy too, writing felt like a safe space for me. If I have a hard time expressing something talking out loud, I usually find the words when I’m typing on my computer.
STA: What inspired you to write Chloe and the Kaishao Boys?
Mae: The first ever chapter I ever wrote for Chloe happened because I was trying to avoid a school assignment. In one of my classes, our teacher asked us to try writing out young adult fantasy. I have such high respect for fantasy writers who are able to create new worlds and characters beyond imagination––because I’m really not great at it. Instead, I wrote a chapter about a Chinese Filipino girl attending prom at a Catholic all-girls school set in Manila. Throughout my time in grad school, I kept hearing advice to try “writing what I know.” With this story, I really wanted to write a character that felt familiar to me and the people I grew up with.
STA: Have you ever been to a Kaishao? If yes, how was your experience like?
Mae: I have, but not in high school like Chloe. When my parents set me up in the past, they liked doing sort of “ambush” kaishaos. They would tell me to go to this lunch or dinner, and then I’d end up later sitting across a guy they wanted me to meet. Everyone I met was perfectly nice, but I think I’m a bit too awkward for those types of situations. When my parents found out the title of the book, they said, “Buti pala we set you up on kaishaos. You even got inspired!”
STA: What are the lessons that you learned after being rejected?
Mae: To pursue writing (or any creative field), I’ve learned that rejection is a constant part of the process. On the same day I turned in the very final version of Chloe and the Kaishao Boys, I also received a rejection for my next story idea. From all of this, I’ve found that listening to my gut and instinct is really important. When I get nos from editors, I take time to reflect if I still feel like the project is worth pursuing. That instinct is what kept me trying for what would eventually become Chloe.
ST : What is your advice to young women who experienced a lot of rejections who feel like giving up?
Mae: What has really kept me going is my support system. There are people in my life who I turn to every time I get a rejection, each time I feel doubtful or feel close to giving up. I guess my best advice is to find those people in your life––the ones who you can share your biggest fears with and feel no judgment.