Mae Coyiuto is a Chinese-Filipino writer, born and raised in the Philippines. She is a second-year MFA Creative writing student concentrating in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She loves writing about Asian teens with artsy passions and wishes she gets to work with books for the rest of her life.
1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
I think my favorite villain is still Tom Riddle/Voldemort. When I read his backstory in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I realized that evil people aren’t simply born evil. It was the first time I realized that villains get origin stories too.
My favorite protagonist is probably Daniel Bae from Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is also a Star. He’s a Korean American teenager who struggles between his parents’ wish for him to become a doctor and his own passion for poetry. He’s probably one of my favorite boys in YA literature. I mean, he spends the book trying to convince a girl he just met that they’re meant to be. I think his character really nailed the reality of balancing two cultures and living as a second-generation immigrant.
2. When did you know you were a writer?
During my junior year of high school, three of my best friends told me to write a love story. In between classes (and sometimes during class), I would jot down more and more of this story on a blue notebook. It was some cheesy story that starred a guy in a leather jacket named Nathaniel, and I loved writing it. I was nervous about my friends reading it, but I was so thrilled when they became invested and kept asking me what would happen next. I guess this was the moment I knew writing was something I really loved doing.
3. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a YA story that’s set in a society where people are marked whether they’re destined for a soulmate or not. It stars two teenagers who find out they don’t get soulmates. I’m not sure where it’s heading, but it’s supposed to be happier than it sounds.
4. How has your writing process changed over the years?
I think (hope) that I’ve gotten more disciplined over the years. Before, I would only write whenever I felt inspired. Now I realize if I keep waiting for that moment to come, it would take me ten years to finish anything. I also used to be so pressured about how authors write and have routines, then I went to a Patrick Ness signing where he said, “I can’t tell you how to write. I can only tell you how I write.” Since then, I realized there’s no one way to write and I’ve been learning what works for me.
5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.