My friend sent me an email the other day, “You have to download this book,” she said. “It’s about a Filipina who’s a house cleaner and it’s a hot read!” I had to laugh but since I was on the bus, it was the perfect time to read..better than spending time trolling my friends’ status updates on Facebook.
It was also World Book Day, so I thought I’d check it out. She pointed it out that it was on Wattpad. Good. I’ve got that site downloaded on my iPad and iPhone already. In case you don’t know about it (and how could you not?) it’s where many people self-publish their stories and anyone can read them for free. Even Margaret Atwood is on there. But back to this story.
I had downloaded it and by the time I reached my destination, I was already on the third chapter.
The Home of a Heart is written (in English and Tagalog) by Ninya Tippett, a Canadian-Filipina. She tells the story about a young woman who comes to this country to find work as a house keeper in hopes to earn income to support her family back home. The story is familiar for many of our friends and family. Those who leave home to take on jobs as caregivers or cleaners is not uncommon but, in this novel, it goes a few steps further…and it’s gaining popularity with over 10K readers and counting.
Synopsis: Diana Robles has dreams-ones she’d get to just as soon as those of her family have been realized. It took nearly three years of hard work in Canada to see her siblings through college and now, with the promise of a chance to finally live her own life, destiny beckons her to a large and lonely house for one last extra cleaning assignment before her long-overdue trip back home. Little by little, she not only cleans the home of a man who hardly has any time to enjoy the rewards of his long hours, she also begins an odd friendship with him that will make her reconsider the priorities she’d made a long time ago. But before Diana can decide what her heart really wants, she’s called home to the Philippines to hold up her family through an unexpected crisis. Amidst her loud but loving family, the traces of her old life and the calling of the new, Diana will find herself wondering where exactly the home of a heart is and whether she can find it-if it doesn’t find her first.
You can link to the full story here: www.wattpad.com
The story caught my attention, so I had to reach out to the author to find out more about this juicy story of finding love, family and self-publishing fame…
What made you decide to write this romance novel?
Ninya: Working abroad has always been a reality true to so many Filipinos. Whether we like it or not, it’s an opportunity that so many of us would like to have even if it means making the sacrifices it requires of us. I’ve always wanted to highlight that in a story somewhere and this gave me that chance.
Your inspiration for the characters?
Ninya:People I know—friends and family alike. So many of them are scattered all over the globe trying to make a living and also a life. David might be drawn a little bit from my husband who is Canadian. Much of his open-mindedness, his acceptance of Filipino values—a lot of them are based on my husband.
Is the story itself based on your experience, or someone else’s?
Ninya: It’s a mix. The circumstances that brought me to Canada weren’t work-related—more like heart-related. But the mental and emotional adjustment of having to leave your family and entire life behind was very much mine. I’m an only child with retired parents and I had to figure out how to keep having the means to help them out if necessary with me being halfway around the world. The experience though of taking a chance to find work in a foreign land, possibly even working jobs that you never thought you’d do, much of that is based on so many other people I know.
How long have you been in Canada and what were your first impressions?
Ninya: I moved here in 2008 and having never lived anywhere but the Philippines, I was excited. I grew up reading and watching TV shows and movies about North American pop culture—from the ice cream parlors to high school lockers to winter. Being a writer, it almost seemed like entering a book. But of course, I quickly learned that what you see on TV or books doesn’t necessarily equate to the big picture. I was young and still quite naïve at that time. I quickly learned that whatever I may have accomplished for myself back home in terms of education and career wouldn’t put me at the same level here and that I would pretty much have to start from scratch. There was no picking up from where I left off. It was very humbling but it matured me. The rose-colored glasses came off and I suddenly had a sharper picture of reality. But it made me stronger and wiser. I still hope for the best in life and I still have no regrets. There’s a broader, more liberal view of the world here, more access to opportunities, and definitely a better quality of life for the lower and middle classes compared to other countries. As long as one is willing to work hard, put in the time and heart required, one can make a good, happy life here.
I’ve heard you’ve written a few stories..are they all on Wattpad? What has being on this platform done for you?
Ninya: I have a few stories written and yes, they’re all on Wattpad. The platform has grown so much from when I first started and I’m amazed by what it has been able to do for its writers. But even before all this progress, Wattpad was already able to give me an audience on a scale I would’ve never imagined having access to before I started writing here. I used to pass around my stories in notebooks to people who wanted to read it. Here, the audience is from all over the globe, from all walks of life. And I’m happy that not only was it able to connect me to that many people, it’s also kept giving us plenty of opportunities to grow those connections with our readers and even further our careers. I feel like it’s given birth to a new generation of writers utilizing a very modern approach to writing that fits the demands of today’s readership.
Readers can interact with you on Wattpad as well, what’s have you learned?
Ninya: Yes, they can and they definitely do, especially when they read a story that really resonates with their own. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much some readers open up to me. To read what they struggled with and overcame, in some part due to my story, I’m always hit with the realization that what I might just enjoy writing on the side can make such a huge impact in someone’s life out there. That kind of responsibility intimidates me sometimes but for the most part, it validates just how important stories still are to people and as long as that difference is there, it’s worth writing them.
If there was a film made based on your novel, The Home of a Heart, who could you see as the leading man?
Ninya: Simon Baker. I can’t picture anyone else playing David.
Your family and friends have read the story, what are their reactions?
Ninya: I think some of them might be amused at reading my writing in Tagalog. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything that’s not in English. But in all seriousness, a lot of them understand where a lot of the heart in the story is coming from. I’d like to think there’s some pride in there, too. Not all people would appreciate the kind of importance Filipinos place on family but those who live by that value, those who know it will always be part of their lives would understand, and even be proud of it.
Congratulations Ninya! I’m looking forward to reading your other stories!!