by Ines Bautista-Yao
Despite her quirky name and equally quirky family, 16-year-old Tempest Juan knows she’s ordinary. After reading a comment on Facebook which likened her to vanilla ice cream, Tempest decides she has to do something about it or be forever branded as plain, lukewarm, and well, vanilla. It doesn’t help that the comment was made by Paco Lorenzo, her cousin’s cute friend (no longer cute in her book!). When she happens upon a book of dares, she decides to attempt each one, no matter how hard. This is her personality at stake, after all. But somehow, Paco, the cause of all this, finds a way to be at every dare Tempest attempts, confusing her and forcing her to question what’s really going on inside her heart.
“The Queen of Philippine YA Romance has done her magic again! And maaan, I feel so freaking happy reading this I feel like my face is going to split in two!”
“The author highlights well the isolation, pressure, confusion, angst, and experiences by all teenage girls.”
“Plain Vanilla is so not plain, unless you mean plain delight! Well-written, well-scripted, good characters, fast pace, nice tension and as brightly coloured as the Philippines themselves, this is a very satisfying YA romance with an ethnic flavour – that is to say, tasty!”
CIR: What inspired this little love story?
BAUTISTA-YAO: I wrote an article for a tween magazine about going out of your comfort zone and that immediately gave me the idea for this story. I even got the ideas of the dares in the story from that same tween magazine — with permission from the editor in chief, of course!
CIR: What was your favorite part of writing this story?
BAUTISTA-YAO: I loved writing about the different dares that Tempest had to do because I could imagine doing the dares myself. I also loved writing about her crazy family because well, mine comes pretty close.
CIR: What was the hardest part of writing this story?
BAUTISTA-YAO: I think the hardest part was when I had to write the confrontation between Tempest and Cindy because I don’t like drama like that in my life. When I write, I try to feel what my characters are feeling — so that was a bit tough. I could feel the Tempest’s anger, frustration, and stress. At the same time, my tummy was also in knots and my heart was hammering. Who said writing was relaxing?!
CIR: Who is your favorite character and why?
BAUTISTA-YAO: I love Paco because he’s a sweetheart and a cutie pie, and I always fall a little bit in love with my love interests (doesn’t that come with the territory?). But I also love Margarita because of how free-spirited she is. She doesn’t care what people think but at the same time, she acknowledges that she needs Tempest to keep her grounded.
CIR: What message do you hope your readers take away from this book?
BAUTISTA-YAO: The message of this story is clear: to be yourself because that’s all you have to be for people to love you. I believe teens have a very hard time doing this or believing the truth in this, and this is why I wrote this story. But at the same time, if you want to do something different in your life, shake things up, go ahead because it’s fun and you might just fall in love in the process.