J.M. Gasilla Barrios can be introduced in many ways depending on who’s asking and what the person asking really wanted to know. She’s an only daughter in the family and the eldest at that. She’s that one kid in the family that is always being told to be a good example for her younger brother. Her life was not entirely all sunshine and rainbows since life seems to surprise us in more ways than one but it was not that bad either though you’ll know more of that as you read this article. J.M. lives with her parents in a small city called Naga City situated in the southern part of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Her biggest inspiration in writing is the city she lives in, to showcase all the hidden beauties within it through her writing as well as to provide a temporary solace a book can provide from escaping reality even just for a while. Something that provided her when she needed it the most.
J.M. Gasilla Barrios already published two books, the first one was titled “Neglected”, a dystopian fiction novel that took place after World War III, it talks about a world when the government and religion merged into one and a memory, distant and forgotten finally being reminisced to know what exactly is in the future. And the latest one is titled “Claiming Time”, a mystery novel about a guy waiting for the love of his life vanished into thin air, not knowing where she is. Until, he met a mysterious lady. Enthralled by her presence, he spent countless times with her only to realize that he’s the only one who can see her and no one else.
Growing up, I don’t really think much about being an author, to be honest. It came to me maybe a little later compared to other authors. I am the only daughter in the family and the eldest with only one sibling, my younger brother, Josiah Jethro whom I am super close with. I am also blessed with a very supportive and loving parents who always guide me and support me with everything that I wanted to do in life and I am very thankful for having them as parents. But, the idea of being an avid reader and writer came to me when I was looking for solace when I was being bullied in elementary school. I was a late bloomer and a bit overweight for my age so my bullies always called me ‘stupid’ or ‘foolish’ and add mean comments about my appearance. It was hard for a little girl to handle that much but for some unknown reason, I didn’t tell my parents about it, I don’t really want them to know for whatever reason and because of that, my academic performance slowly declines. It was then when I feel frustrated and hopeless that I resorted to reading to escape the reality for a while then writing to pour all my emotions on the paper and to create a world where I was not how I was back then. When my parents found out about the bullying, I was already going on my way on being a freshman in High School. They decided to transfer me to a local public school where my aunt worked as an English Teacher and in those three years of being there, my aunt tried to help me to develop my confidence and self-esteem which I am still thankful for it. She was also the first one to really discover my talent in writing through checking my essays and other pieces I was submitting as one of her students, and polished it by letting me join writing competitions in school. I came back to my old school (where I experienced being bullied) during my last year in high school to face the haunting thoughts I had and met great friends instead. I was able to close that chapter of my life and only used my nightmares as an inspiration to become better. It was then that I finally see myself and aspired to become a published author, with the help of my family, I was able to pull myself out of the dark corner I unconsciously crawled in when I was afraid and slowly became the person I am right now. . I also have best friends I met in the church we are attending and they are the people who still supports me through my journeys in life. Everything turned out great and even though it was a hard time for me, I can’t seem but to be glad that even though it was hard, I successfully went through it and became a better version of myself.
Neglected and Claiming Time represents the struggles of my life that I was able to conquer. I was writing Neglected when my grandmother was so close to died due to complications because of Diabetes. It was hard for me emotionally to go on with writing the novel but my grandma was one of the people who supported me for being a writer and she was also the first, one to give me the money to purchase the very first book I put into my book the collection so it was really hard for me and my mom. Claiming Time, on the other hand, tells a different tale because it was a representation of all the questions in my head finally being answered, a story dedicated to my High School friend that I am still close with until now and opportunities being offered after constantly praying and working for my dream of becoming a published author, I look at them as a reminder of all the challenges I faced in life and succeeded.
Writing means passion and comfort for me. It saved me from the nightmare of being bullied as a child and I can't see myself not writing and no being able to tell the stories I want to share the world. Books were my lifesaver and now, all I want is to provide a portal for all the people who wanted to escape reality even just for a while and I will continue doing so as long as I have stories to tell.
A bad time I experienced when being an author is suffering from a writer's block. It was horrible. I felt like I was being ignored by my characters or they blocked me or something so I don't have any idea what they are doing. It can go on for months and the longest writer's block I experienced lasted for two years, that's before I wrote Neglected. One of the best times I have while being an author is when I am finally putting on the last words for a book I was working on for a long time. It was such a relief and accomplishment though somewhat bittersweet since I know I cannot visit that place anymore.
The only thing I can say to all the aspiring authors out there is to trust the process. Trust their process of development when it comes to this craft, be passionate while writing the stories you wanted to tell, never lose hope no matter how discouraging the situation you might be in and always have faith. You will be published soon, you will be successful soon, trials and tribulations will pass. All you have to do is work hard and you'll find yourself one day, not long from now, in a different place, finally achieved what you want the most. It will never be easy, there will be a lot of struggles, frustrations, sadness, and tears but all of it will be worth it. Keep fighting, keep dreaming, and keep writing.