Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Maan Gabriel Interview - After Perfect

Photo Content from Maan Gabriel

Maan Gabriel is a mom, wife, dreamer, writer, and advocate for women’s stories in literature. She earned her BA in communications from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and MPS in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University. She has lived in Manila, Brussels, Dakar, and Mexico City. During the day, she works in strategic communications. Maan, along with her husband and son, currently calls suburban Washington DC home. After Perfect is her first novel.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling connects us all. Every story told provides a portal to someone else’s life and because of this, storytelling links cultures, beliefs and hearts. This is very important to me. I’m not telling a story to highlight a single narrative; I tell it because it introduces a diverse world that perhaps can be totally separate from others, and in a small way this unifies us as human race. Storytelling helps us understand each other better.

At the same time, stories feed the soul. We often times seek tales that can provide a short escape from reality, or for pure entertainment, or simply to bask in joy and ecstasy. To get lost in a story is simply the best.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Gaining a community is the most rewarding experience for me. I found a tribe that speaks the language of my heart. I’m not just talking about readers – I’m also talking about supportive authors. Especially for a new author like me, this is gold.

There is also that aspect of learning that I find truly rewarding. I believe that learning should be a constant, a challenge that I should seek to be better. Learning from writers before me is truly a gift, a rewarding aspect of this trade.

And I’m not going to lie – when a reader connects deeply with my story, and find themselves reflecting on their own lives and find reason to be better, find positivity in my voice, this makes my heart sing. A true joy for my soul.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I love Korean dramas – and I think this fandom is growing. I even visited Seoul, Korea to fulfill my Kdrama dreams. I put all my fandom energy into writing my next novel about a struggling Filipino American publicist who accidentally meets an insanely famous South Korean actor. They spend twelve hours together where they talk about love, life and the freedom they both seek to fully live and not merely to survive. I’m so excited for this.

I’m also working on a historical fiction set in the Philippines during the Japanese American war. It has family secrets, curses that affect generations, and lots of drama.

Can you tell us when you started AFTER PERFECT, how that came about?
I worked on this book for over four years as a form of self-healing while I go through menopause in my late thirties. The sudden changes in my body rocked my mental and emotional state. After Perfect was my paranoia at its worst. I had to put my fears into paper to establish something tangible I can relate to. My marriage was solid but it was out of fear of losing the love of my life that drove me to write everything down. I wrote the what ifs, and at the same time outlined possible plan of action. I was not willing it to happen, I just thought it would be best if I can see myself through a tough time. My husband was not particularly happy that I was planning the demise of our beautiful marriage – but now that it’s a real book, he got over it. LOL.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
That love is multi-dimensional than we think. That we are only able to fully love others when we finally get to understand what it truly means to love ourselves.

The hope is to provide inspiration, an impact that could motivate people, especially women, to take action. That we have the power to reinvent ourselves. Evolution. It’s a beautiful privilege we have as humans.

Also, I want to introduce or re-introduce readers to Filipino American representation in fiction. There are more Filipino American authors now and I’m so excited about it.

What part of Gabby and Simon did you enjoy writing the most?
I never truly envisioned Simon as a villain in Gabby’s story. He, too, was going through some stuff of his own during the divorce. And so I enjoyed writing about their friendship outside of the marriage, I relished moments when they got to figure out what they were to each other, and I loved exploring the kind of love they were both willing to discover together in the end. To find love again within each other after a heartbreak was, for me, a magical phenomenon.

Did you learn anything from writing AFTER PERFECT and what was it?
Writing After Perfect was a big life lesson learned for me. The journey has not always been easy, but to get to the end was a dream. I learned that writing is both dedication and hard work. Imposter syndrome will hit you at any time and it’s our discipline and resolve that will get us through it. In fact, I was able to list a few hacks to get me through writer’s block and writer’s bad discipline. Once you understand how you are as a writer, I think it would be easier to manage, and sometimes manipulate, the process.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
This is tough. So many characters I want to have a crossover with – from romance, young adult, historical fiction, to fantasy. I probably want Gabby to meet women and girls in literature - from Evelyn Hugo, Katniss Everdeen to Bridget Jones - who inspired my generation to stand up and explore the fires within us for a chat and to exchange notes with.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I don’t think there is one specific event that defined my childhood, but I have memories of me any mom on shopping sprees. I grew up in the Philippines and we didn’t have neighborhood libraries back then, and I remember when my mom, who was fairly young when she had me, started taking me to bookstores instead of toy stores when I was barely three years. Those were my best memories of us together ever. I don’t know why, but it was like walking into a totally different world. I still feel this way about bookstores to this day. And this time, I take her.

I also have snippets of beautiful moments – dancing in the rain, mud and flood, roller skating on narrow pavements, playing outdoor games on a busy streets of Manila, chasing rainbows in my sleep.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Follow through a big dream, no matter how difficult, until the end. Success or fail, it’s important to live life trying. I believe that luck is the universe aligning in our favor after working our butts off.

Best date you've ever had?
My boyfriend and I went to North Carolina without a plan. We drove five hours from D.C., parked at a secluded beach, and slept under the stars. It was perfect. We’ve been married almost sixteen years now.

What was the first job you had?
My first job was as a segment producer/writer for a television show in the Philippines. I was twenty-two years old. It was hard work – from writing the segment, directing, editing, and finally airing – but, my goodness, that was an amazing experience.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Being a mother not only changed me, but also molded me into the person I am today. Motherhood is a choice and it’s not for everyone, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It provided me context about connecting our hearts with another human being, finally recognizing that everything is not just about me anymore, and for the first time in my life I became selfless. I learned to love with all of me that I was willing to give up anything, and everything, to make sure that my son is happy, safe and healthy.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I want to go back to the white sand beaches of Boracay in the Philippines, a small island in the Visayas region. It’s the most beautiful, peaceful place on earth – well, at least for me, and how I remember it from my youth. I used to cry a little every time I say goodbye to that island. It’s a slice of paradise on earth. It’s been more than fifteen years since I’ve been, and I think it’s time to start planning a visit soon.

First Heartbreak?
I was ghosted way before ghosting was a thing. I was young, stupid, angsty, entitled, and didn’t know how to love properly. I was not an easy girl to love. And well, I don’t think he was strong enough to love me either. Guess what? I lived.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I will always choose true love no matter the looming heart break. When you finally learn to truly love, it’s like a veil has been lifted from your face, and you can see things clearly, with better texture, depth, and color, and each movement is a joy to behold. You really can’t come back from that kind of happiness.

  • 1. Filipino American heroine
  • 2. Old friendships that can withstand the test of time and heartaches
  • 3. New friendships as guiding light
  • 4. Traditional Filipino culture highlighted in a mother-daughter relationship
  • 5. Filipino food!
  • 6. Independent bookstore to love
  • 7. Hot creative writing professor
  • 8. Discover New York City’s hidden gems
  • 9. Explore love through various dimensions
  • 10. Find inspiration
Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from AFTER PERFECT
“There is no darkness, if sunshine is I.”

In one of Gabby’s creative writing classes, the professor, Colt, gave them the word “sunshine” as a writing prompt. With it in mind and a time limit of an hour, the exercise was to present in writing what best described their present truth. Gabby’s classmates were able to write short stories, and poems, but Gabby only had this one line. It was a pivotal moment. It was when she finally realized that it was time to be her own light.

“How rare it is to be able to say you have loved with all your heart and with more than your soul. I say that with pride because not everyone is given that chance.”
This was a line said by Gabby’s boss, independent bookstore owner, Thomas, during one of Gabby’s lowest moments. It’s one of my favorite lines and Thomas is one of my favorite characters – in fact, he probably is my favorite. There was something about writing Thomas that inspired me – something about his age, and his wisdom, and his past and heartaches that gave me the fuel to write Gabby’s confidence and strength. I hope readers get to experience that feeling too with him in After Perfect.

Thirty-six-year-old Gabriella Stevens is living a quiet and content fairy tale as a devoted housewife to Simon—just as her traditional Filipino mother has always told her to do—when, after sixteen years of marriage and twenty years together, he tells he wants a divorce.

Simon has been Gabby’s everything since they were kids; without him, her world implodes. But as she navigates her way through the wreckage of the marriage she thought would last forever, she becomes determined to make a life on her own. With New York City as her backdrop, Gabby—single for the first time since she was a teenager—goes back to school, gets her first real job, and faces unfamiliar reality with determination.

Gabby’s life takes another turn when she falls in love with her mysterious but utterly beautiful creative writing professor, Colt. Being with Colt is exhilarating for her—something new, something exciting and beyond understanding. He is almost seven years her junior, and a literary genius. But he is also battling demons of his own: a tragic past that may have made him incapable of love.

Is Gabby destined for another heartbreak—or will her connection with Colt be what unbreaks her?

You can purchase After Perfect at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MAAN GABRIEL for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of After Perfect by Maan Gabriel.


  1. Not very often but once in a while there will be a movie that really gets to me.