NOBODY knows the average Filipino quite like Ricky Lee.
For his first novel, the award-winning scriptwriter has opted to deal with the most universal of all themes: love. Lee, who knows the Filipino reader and audience like the back of his hand, says that the book is a sure winner with its theme, because almost everybody likes falling in love.
The novel illustrates the construction, manifestation, and mystery of love. Using a formula he himself devised, Lee reveals that four out of five people who fall in love eventually get broken-hearted. Which explains the novel?s full title: ?Para Kay B (O Kung Paano Dinevastate ng Pag-ibig ang 4 out of 5 sa Atin).?
It?s surprising that for all the years he has been writing scripts and the numerous awards he has received, Lee has not really done the one thing he has always wanted. ?The call of scriptwriting is very strong,? he says. He had to go on hiatus to fulfill his first love?writing prose fiction. ?It?s something that is not expected of me,? says Lee, who has always loved novels and recalls growing up in Camarines Sur surrounded by books. Finding a chance to write one, he immersed himself in every aspect of writing the now much-talked about ?Para Kay B.?
?Para Kay B? is the first novel to be released among the three drafts that Lee has been simultaneously working on these past three years. Two other novels are in the works--one is a satire, while the other deals on politics. His first novel similarly touches on issues of the day, mainly oppression and labor rights.
But why write three novels at the same time, people might ask, when just the prospect of writing one major work is in itself intimidating? Lee shrugs: ?Because as a person I easily get bored. Even while reading books, I would read different titles at the same time. When I do that, I am regenerated.?
The first-time novelist says he?s found inspiration for his characters and plots in the people around him, the students and ordinary individuals he meets every day. He also held focus discussion groups to check out what people are thinking these days, especially on love. ?I wanted to hear their voices and capture their stories,? he explains. ?But in the end, I did it my way.?
This being his first outing as a novelist, Lee asked at least 15 readers to give him feedback on the drafts of the book. ?I wanted to capture the voices of readers for whom this book is intended,? he says.
Published by Lee?s The Writers Studio and distributed by Anvil Publishing, ?Para Kay B? consists of five stories whose plots and characters are interconnected. The author describes the novel as complex but not lacking in entertainment value, and should prove once more how Lee loves to challenge his readers. The ending, both gripping and amusing, gives them something to think about, he says cryptically.
Lee is most proud of how he has managed to make the novel much easier to read. The language is conversational and colloquial, what people hear and use these days: Taglish with a flare of street, gay and kolehiyala lingo. The situations are all too familiar but remain fresh and exciting.
The award-winning writer of such memorable films as ?Himala? and ?Moral? remains self-effacing amid the accolades he received during his novel?s recent book launch at the UP Bahay ng Alumni. ?I want to try new things,? he says. ?I want to feel that I still don?t know everything. I want to keep going and learning. The moment a writer starts believing that he?s already the best, that?s the end.?
At the same time, Lee admits that he really wanted a big launch to create a buzz, not for personal gain but because ?I want Filipinos to know that there is something they can read and enjoy.?
More than fulfilling a personal dream, Lee says he chose to write a novel to encourage Filipinos to read more local authors. ?Filipiniana remains just a section in most bookstores and libraries,? he notes sadly.
Lee also knows that despite his best intentions, there will always be critics who might not like his novel at all. ?The reviews are all biased, whether positive or negative,? he explains, ?but as much as I care about the critics, I try not to care about what they say. What?s important is that I?m able to do what I want to do.?
Although Lee defines a best-seller as based on popularity more than receipts, he volunteers that proceeds from the sale of his novel will benefit The Philippine Writers Studio, a newly established foundation that will help writers in their creative, financial, and health-related needs.
Aside from helping out creative writers, Lee looks forward to touching the ordinary Filipino reader with his novel. ?My dream is to see my book read by everyone, whether they?re in the MRT, the park, hospitals, wherever,? he says, ?I would very much like it if someone comes up to me and says, ?My life changed because of ?Para Kay B.??