Denny’s story

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COVER-PHOTOHow young, a teenaged fiction writer has gotten her generation to read books again

Once there was a girl, who at the age of 13 began writing stories on anything she could get her hands on. Be it in spiral notebooks or on school pad papers, she was always eager to share the scribbles of her vivid imaginings with friends and classmates, who in turn, would pass them on to other teenaged readers.

One day, technology churned out the Internet, and allowed Little Miss Writer to post her stories and fan fictions (i.e. stories made by fans of a certain movie or byproducts of pop culture) online via community forums and sites, granting her a larger readership.

Soon enough, her stories became a hit with no less than 12 million reads on the online fiction blogsite Wattpad, and today she is a duly published fiction writer, with one of her paperbacks all set for a movie adaptation.

Known only by her username HaveYouSeenThisGirL when her stories went viral on the World Wide Web, The Sunday Times Magazine happily met the 19-year-old bestselling author of Diary ng Panget, whose life story is also one for the books.


A writer’s passion
Just call her “Denny.” And when the bright-eyed young lady sat down for this interview, she had just finished a very successful book signing session at National Bookstore in TriNoma, Quezon City. She flew into Manila to meet her fans on this special day and took a short break from her studies in Italy where she attends Scuola Superiore I.P.C. Strocchi, a technical institute high school.

Denny candidly told The Sunday Times Magazine that she never expected to be published since she only wrote stories as a hobby.

“I didn’t have lots of readers at first. I started with one to three read

The 19-year-old, bestselling author of Diary ng Panget, Denny a.k.a “HaveYouSeenThisGirL”

The 19-year-old, bestselling author of Diary ng Panget, Denny a.k.a “HaveYouSeenThisGirL”

ers, and I was already happy with that,” the humble young lady laughed. “I don’t know when people started noticing my stories but I’m overwhelmed by their support. From less than 10 readers, I suddenly had more than 100,000 readers!”

Her large fan base, she emphasized, did not grow overnight. In fact, she even encountered “difficult fans” on the Internet, ergo a lot of heartache.

“I’d receive lots of demands from my readers telling me to update my stories as soon as possible. It’s flattering and annoying at the same time—flattering because I know they’re demanding for an update because they really liked the story and they’re just excited; but it’s also annoying when they ask me to update my story a minute after I posted the story.

“I love writing but it’s not my life. I have school and other things to attend to and it is really annoying when they demand an update like I’m their slave. There was even a time I hated writing, I was always pressured by those demands and for me— it felt like it wasn’t the same thing anymore.

All lined up to meet their idol

All lined up to meet their idol

“I wanted to quit because I missed the times I could write without stress or anything. I missed those times when I wrote to kill my boredom, and not to write because someone is demanding me to write.”

Despite these bumps along the way, Denny decided to ignore her critics and embrace her passion all over again. She resumed her writing for herself.

“Ginusto ko man mag-quit, hindi ko talaga kinayang iwan ang pagsusulat, I love writing just like how I love eating. That is why I took a short pause from writing to breathe because those demands were actually suffocating me. After that short pause, I decided to ignore all the demands and to start writing again for myself.

My readers are actually my inspiration. Every time they tell me they liked my story and I made them smile through my stories, I feel so happy and inspired to write again.”

Bestseller
Back in Italy, Denny may come across as any regular student taking up Graphic Advertising in her fourth year. But little do her classmates know that back home, she has a 130-page novel that is loaded with Pinoy humor, which topped National Bookstores’ bestselling Filipiniana titles within a week’s release. At one point, every branch of the country’s biggest bookstore chain had ran out of stocks of what is now a serialized novel, with fans lining up to reserve and reorder copies. The same demand can also be said from her Filipino fans overseas.

Written in a colloquial combination of Filipino and English, the first Diary ng Panget came out in May, with the second book quickly following in June, and a third installment just out this week. A fourth book is due for release at the 34th Manila International Bookfair, which will run from September 11 to 15.

Diary ng Panget’s heroine is Reah “Eya” Rodriguez, a regular, poor and “ugly” but intelligent girl who becomes a scholar at Willford Academy, a school for the rich and famous. To make ends meet, she finds work as the personal maid of Cross Sandford, the most popular—and arrogant—guy in school. In the most comical and unexpected twist of events, the unlikely pair become friends and eventually fall in love, as Eya writes in her diary.

According to Rico dela Cruz, sales circulation supervisor of PsiCom Publishing Inc., the Diary ng Panget books 1, 2 and 3 have sold 140,000 copies nationwide as of August 2013. The company’s president Arnel Gabriel, proudly added, that the title is officially PsiCom’s top-selling book to date, surpassing the sales of another PsiCom title, Ramon Bautista’s Bakit Di Ka Crush ng Crush Mo, which was just adapted into film by Star Cinema.

Very soon, the publishing firm also announced that paperback copies of Denny’s two-part series on Wattpad, Voiceless, will be printed, as well as the title She Died, which, which will be out as a manga adaptation.

With her huge fan base, Wattpad has officially named Denny “Wattpad Ambassador to the Philippines” as well.

Rom-com gals
While Denny has given the contemporary and experimental romance-comedy genre of fiction in the country a huge boost, she is happy to note that there are other young writers who are also churning successful novels in the field.

Bianca Bernardino, writer of the best-selling She’s Dating the Gangster, has also contributed to the sudden and heightened demand for local teen lit novelties.

Interviewed by The Sunday Times Magazine on a separate occasion, the author confessed she was not even a voracious reader before she started to write.

“Honestly, I never liked to read! I just started reading because of the Twilight Saga [by American novelist Stephanie Meyer]” said Bianca, a.k.a. SGWannabe on the Internet.

“But suddenly, everything just fell into place, and I started throwing ‘what’ ifs’ about a story with a friend, and ended up writing She’s Dating the Gangster.”

The book follows the story of Athena Dizon who transfers to a new high school and finds herself pretending to be the girlfriend campus bad boy and “gangster” Kenji delos Reyes. Kenji forces her into the situation to make his ex-girlfriend, whose name is also Athena, jealous. As they go about the plan, the two develop strong feelings for each other, but with a love story that has a bittersweet ending.

Bianca’s Taglish title was first posted in Summit Publishing’s teen Candy magazine’s online creative section in 2006. From there, a reader copied and posted the story on Wattpad, which immediately garnered hundreds of reads and votes from the online community. Eventually, the story was edited and translated in pure English, and published by Summit Books in March.

Besides Denny and Bianca, other teen lit books that are getting the youth to hold on to something other than their cell phones and tablets include: Alesana Marie’s Talk Back and You’re Dead and Aril Daine’s Sadistic Lover, both released under PsiCom Publishing; and Alyloony’s full novel, Operation: Break the Cassanova’s Heart, which will be published sometime this month under Summit Books.

Movies and beyond
Diary ng Panget fans who trooped to Denny’s book signing were thrilled to find out that Viva Films has already bought the rights to the title and will release a Valentine’s movie adaptation in February 2014.

The announcement was made by no less than the film company’s head honcho, Vic del Rosario, who told The Sunday Times Magazine that they are already in the process of writing the screenplay, as well deciding on the cast and director.

Asked what makes such books click in this day and age of technology, PsiCom president Arnel Gabriel believes it all starts with a good title.

“Diary ng Panget is a very catchy title so it immediately earned such a huge number of hits,” he elaborated. More importantly, he said the story is very contemporary and entertaining, thus enabling its young readers to relate and to laugh along with the plot.

“Usually, teens today would just busy themselves on their computer and with their gadgets, but now we are proud that they are going back to reading books because of the works of equally young writers,” Gabriel added.

As for PsiCom Publishing’s newest star—the teen generation’s new rom-com heroine—Denny has yet to wrap her head around her unexpected success in the world of publishing.

“I now really want writing to be my profession,” she mused. “My goal before was to publish a book but with PsiCom doing that, I haven’t set a new goal yet.” Pausing briefly, she said again, “Maybe to write I story someday that I could call a masterpiece.”

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25 Comments

  1. meh. Her writing is bad and yes I’ve read it. It’s like those cheap romance pocketbooks maids read on afternoons—and the self-insert stuff on fanfiction.net.

    not surprised with its demograph tho on why it’s selling well.

  2. Nadeth Buenbrazo on

    Ate denny wla n poh bang book ng DNP????
    d ko po sya tapos eii… ilab DNP……
    gustong gusto ko talaga sya matapos????

  3. i’m so proud that she’s my batch mate even though we’re not that close because she’s on science section, Denny, keep on doing right things and inspire more teens. sobrang idol kita, at sana madami ka pang story na gawin kasi sobrang love ko yung mga stories mo at syempre ikaw, hehehe :)

  4. OMG ! I’m speechless .. what an article :) I’m so very proud of ate denny it takes time for me to absorb what i read, i cant explain what i feel now its just my heart beat faster and faster. diary ng panget is one of the story i’ve never been forgoten till i die it makes me inspired to continue what i’ve started and be who I’am. I Solute you ate denny for inspiring us (your solid fans in the earth:D) you deserve what you got now congratulations :) god bless you <3

  5. I really like Ate denny’s stories. Nabasa ko na lahat ng stories nya before pa ma-publish ang DNP, Voiceless and She Died. As a reader, masasabi kong lahat yun, maganda. :) I idolize her.

  6. Grabe ang gling lang tlg ni Ate Denny ikaw na po ! hindi ako magsasawang basahin lahat ng storya nya sana nga lahat maisapelikula eh grabe ang gaganda at inspirational lang kasi, 2 years na akong reader sa wattpad at madami na rin akong nabasang story na kahit hindi na ako magreview okay lang basta matapos ko lang ung binabasa ko. Nakakaadik lang kasi ung mga story sa Wattpad kasi nangyayari siya sa totoong buhay at the same time makakarelate karin kasi kaedaran mo lang rin ung gumawa ng story sana lang maapreciate natin ang ginagawa nila at huwag nating ikahiya na pilipino tayo at mahal na mahal natin ang storya nila at ipinagmamalaki natin sila :)))) <3

  7. Denny’s life is very inspirational. I’ve read all of her stories in Wattpad and its worth it. It gives life lessons and talks about relationships. I’m a big fan of her. I hope she’d never stop writing stories where people can relate themselves in to. Truly, she’s an excellent writer even at an early age :) <3

  8. Femalyn Lagmay on

    I really like your stories!!!
    hehe, i want to read all of them! thanks for giving lessons . and you really inspire me.. that’s all.. really love it! more powerzz:)

  9. Wow, just Wow. Congrats to Ate Denny. This is such a big article for you. And a very inspiring article for other writers out there. I’m a beginner writer and a silent reader at the same time. And I can say you deserve all achievements you have right now. Cause in every story you’ve made, there’s a lot of people who supports and love not only your work but also you Ate Denny. Godbless :)

  10. As a fan,I must say that this book has full of Roller-Coaster fun and taught us most valuable lesson that,”True Beauty is found within”.And Ate Denny has a great passion on writing this story.I salute you and congratulations for a job well-done. :D

  11. This is really an inspiring article and the people involved in this.
    I really love Reading like “I can’t let a day pass without having read a book”
    I admire this writers and all I can say is, we are at the same age but they have gone far, such an inspiration :)

  12. julia marie gallardo on

    Masaya ko para sayo Ate Denny!! ^____^ akalain mo yun. Yung istoryang laging pinauulit ulit kong basahin at yung Author na gustong gusto kong maging katulad. sikat naaaaa! ^o^ hayy, Galingan mo pa :D nandito lang kaming mga supporters mo! :*

  13. inspiring article :D, it m0tivates me to continue writing.. Congratumalicious!!! I LOVE yöu to the both of ü.. Im a big fan of yöu guyz! :)

  14. This is such a great article about the new teen generation nowadays. The descriptions about it are really appropriate and accurate for those who can relate. Love it.

  15. Kristine Bartolome on

    This article made me want to go back to the story I am writing.. Just like ate Denny, I somehow wanted to stop writing but because of this article, I found the will to continue what I have started. <3

  16. Wow! Ito na yun eh! Congrats po talaga Ate Denny. You really deserve it! Pati na din po yung ibang mga namentiong authors. Super congratulations po sa inyo! And salamat po sa paginspire sa amin sa pagsusulat. ♥ God bless po sa inyo! :*

  17. so excited for the film adaptation! i hope they pick the perfect artists for Eya and Cross’s role!!! I’m so happy for Denny!

  18. Wow, this is a great and inspiring article. I’ve been writing ever since in Wattpad, and it’s true that you can’t garner hundreds of thousand reads in just a night. She really deserves what she has right now, and I hope that she’ll continue to inspire other Filipino Wattpad buddings to pursue and endeavor to strike for the best.

  19. This article about the the young writers of today, namely Ate Denny and Ate Bianca are really inspiring. They started on nothing but ended into a very big something. More power to the both of them. :) More stories and blessing to come. Thanks for inspiring me also. I’m a big fan of you. :)

  20. As a fan of denny, I say that she is one of the best authors of my generation because her book(Diary ng Panget) is one of the first paperback books that got me excited to read in 10 years.(And to know that the author is just a year younger than me was incredible!)

  21. Angelica Agonos on

    I can’t help but cry while I’m reading this. There is only no such word to describe how happy I am for Ate Denny. She has come this far and I know that she deserves all of these blessings. One thing’s for sure is that we will never ever leave her side from now on. No matter what happens, us supporters will continue up support her. We love her so much.