Interview with author April Mae M. Berza

April Mae M. Berza , who also enjoys being called Shakespril, realized at a young age who her idol was, Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. She strives to follow in his footsteps. Her goal is to always aspire for succinct and minimalist poetry. Hoping to create a lasting positive impact on others through her opus, she is inspired by Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which triggered the revolution against the Spaniards.

She often writes collections of haiku’s and other three line poetry in a single day using prompts such as pictures, paintings, or sculpture as inspiration. As a bilingual author, ( Tagalog or Filipino as well as English) she has been editing and rewriting her poetry for a little more than a decade. Being too hard on herself, she states “My debut poetry collection is actually a mess. I know it is a fiasco. I just wrote it in haste. And I’ve included my worst poems in that collection. How I wish I did not release it at all. It got published last 2012 in Canada. It took me almost a year to complete it.” Her poetry is in-fact beautiful. I will post a sample at the end of this interview.

Recently she has changed genre’s to Young Adult Fantasy and Thriller. Shakerpril’s debut Tagalog novel is about “an avid fan who scrutinized the real identity of a bestselling Filipino writer. In the end, she realized that she has fallen in love with the writer even if she has not moved on with her first love yet. And that bestseller got jealous so he stayed away from her. In addition, he had to leave her because she might unveil his personality. The frustrated female protagonist realized that she has let go of her first love who is her longtime high school crush, and her last love who is the bestselling author.” This took her a year to complete. Shakerpril is working with a local copy-editor, who compares her work to Dan Brown. This project has been in the works for seven years.

Though she does not have a writing schedule, her favorite time of day is in the late evening/night. She has no writing rituals or procedures, but did mention she had bought a fountain pen she never uses because the ink is more valuable than the pen itself. Her inspiration comes from immersing herself in the world around her.

When asked about other interests, Shakerpril noted some of her favorite things to do outside of writing are playing jenga with her seven-year-old niece. She also volunteer in person and online, being passionate about teaching in her neighborhood, handing out snacks as she does it. With a heart of gold, she donate books to institutions like local high schools, hospital, and even to individual people.

As an incredible support system for Shakrepril, her father has bought all of her self-published works and allowed her to give them out, free of charge. He also accompanies her for every publication in Ani, the literary journal of the Cultural Center of the Philippine.

Shakeril’s biggest inspirations are Alfried Norwin C. Barbacena, Xi Zuq, and Egan G. Hesita. Truly inspired, she has written a poem for each. Her motivation to be a writer is a deep desire to serve others through her works and hopes to make a difference in her readers’ lives. Though only having written a few fiction books, her poetry is approximately 200 pieces with her favorite being a Tagalog epic LDR poem entitled “Ang Pagbabalik” or “The Return.”

In her candid answer to what her readers say in reviews, she reveals that the negative reviews appear to be disappointment in her fiction. Her positive reviews are a mix of fascination and love for the way she creates her versus. She appreciates all of the reviews, whether positive or negative, and shows class and style in her acceptance that not all readers enjoy the same thing. Her idea of a well written piece is dynamic and exponentially impacting the reader’s life as well as the writer’s. Though she has always wanted to be the next big Rizal, she had dreamed of being a teacher.

Of her inspirations to write, Egan was her first love. She had met him in high-school and to this day often dreams of him still. Of the poems she sent me in response to this interview, my favorite was the one she wrote for him, entitled Soneto Soltero. I appreciate Shakeril taking the time to contribute to my blog and accepting my offer to interview her. Below is the poem I appreciate the most.

“Imprisoning the alphabet inside my lips
Stills my mind from stealing your divinest image
To tranquilize my desire, my silent heart weeps
In oblivion, its prison cell is a sad cage;
Litanies of sshhh waking my ticking heartbeat,
Lulling already when the roaring thunder clapped
Like a dictator with feet pounding, on his seat,
Ordering, for lovers are servants not to stop,
Vainly trying to surrender to the whisper
Etherized on the ears to invent lexicons
Ere the simulacrum of words starts to slumber
Gently to shape meanings as the passion dawns;
As my heart is freed, silence is then locked inside
Now fear is hushed as I walk the aisle as your bride.”

I do hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as I did writing it.

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