Fil-Aus Pinay Rayana (Yana) Ysabel Soller has an enviable journey to becoming an author.  The nineteen- year- old relishes recalling that her Year 5 teacher told her parents  “Yana will become an author one day”.  And sure enough, ten years later Yana has produced  The Unofficial Squid Game Coloring Book.

Yana who loves living in Ropes Crossing in Sydney’s western area, could not believe her luck when she was contacted in October 2021 by a New York publishing company, Quarto Publishing Group through her etsy online store The Paper Quest, to do a Squid Game colouring book.  She was too delighted to grab the golden opportunity and produced  The Unofficial Squid Game Coloring Book.

The Squid Game which has taken the entertainment world by a storm and now has a huge following, is a South Korean survival television series which revolves around a contest where 456 players, all of whom are in deep financial debit take amazing risks and endanger their lives to play a series of deadly children’s game for the opportunity to win a W45.6 billion prize. The title has been based on a similarly named Korean’s children game.

The Australian Filipina caught up with Yana and it is our pleasure to share a Q&A conversation with her to gain an insight into her persona and her first published book.

*What achievements so far do you hold fondly in your heart?

My greatest achievements will always reflect my values and passions. 

That being said, the opportunity to illustrate for a New York publishing company, The Quarto Group, is one that fulfilled my childhood dream of publishing a book. It allowed me to pursue my passion for art in a professional way, and will always be an opportunity that I am grateful for. Similarly, pursuing Law and Commerce at the University of New South Wales has allowed me to explore my passion for ethics, marketing, and society more closely, as I believe business and justice are key features of any society. 

However, my most fond achievement would have to be maintaining my relationships with my loved ones, because my friends, boyfriend, and family are what makes these accomplishments worthwhile. Celebrating and being supported by the most important people in my life make me the proudest. 

*On the flip side, what big challenges (if any) have you faced and overcome?

My big challenges often involve hesitancy or fear, as I feel an internal drive to do everything I do perfectly. It has been a source of anxiety in my life, and prevented me from trying new things for a long time. This has slowly started to change as I matured and realised that taking risks and putting myself out there will only ever lead to growth.  

*What do you appreciate the most being of Filipino heritage?

To me, being Filipino doesn’t only mean my ethnicity, birthplace, or race; it means having a family and community who will always support me, and a rich culture that I fall in love with every day. The aspect of Filipino culture I appreciate the most is how we endlessly cheer for each other and the pride we have in our culture and traditions. There is definitely nothing more rewarding than representing our culture and talent on a larger platform.

*Are there any of your family members in the creative area?

While my extended family has many musicians and artists, my immediate family member who inspired me to pursue art is my dad. He did paintings as a hobby in college, and showed me his rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night that inspires me to draw to this day. Along with my dad’s art, my entire family loves music - we sing in the car to and from everywhere, and share music recommendations. 

 *If you could change anything you have done or experienced in the past, what would they be?

If I could change anything I’ve experienced, it would be the dependency of my self-worth on external validation or approval. In more ways than one, the questioning how “successful” or “beautiful” I am has hindered my happiness, confidence, and morale. It’s something I still struggle with from time to time, but learning to find self-worth intrinsically is, while difficult, much more sustainable and rewarding. 

*What else do you wish to achieve in life?

My main goal in life is to make myself and those around me happy. The way I can achieve this is through consistently pursuing my passions and dreams. In my professional career and education, I aim to work in marketing and social media management with small brands and to explore consumer and advertising law in the process. In terms of art, I aim to develop my own distinct style and brand, and to grow my audience. 

*What advice can you give young people like you who have passion to do something but maybe are hesitating?

Considering my challenges in perfectionism and fear, my advice to others who are passionate but hesitant would be to take the risk and put yourself out there - the worst that can happen is that you learn and grow through an outcome you didn’t necessarily want.

Growth by experience is inevitable, but the only way to experience anything that’s worth growth is to explore beyond your comfort zone. 

*Going back to the colouring book, if you are able to share, what are the arrangements for you to do the illustrations and what are other details about the book?

The colouring book I illustrated for is titled The Unofficial Squid Game Coloring Book, and was published by The Quarto Group. I had known about Squid Game and watched the series myself as soon as it came out! I knew it would be a huge hit, so by the time the company contacted me, I had already created Squid Game Posters for my store. 

I am set to receive a portion of net sales as well as having received payment for the illustrations and front cover. However, I am most excited for avid fans of the hit K-Drama Squid Game to enjoy colouring in my work.

It took me just over two hectic months to complete more than 60 illustrations and the front cover, which happened to coincide with my exam period for university. However, it was so satisfying making the final submission knowing I put in my best effort, and I’m excited for the release on the 5th of April in 2022. While it can currently be purchased for presale at the listed providers, it can be bought at Dymocks, Target, Amazon, QBD, Angus and Robertson, The Nile Australia, Barnes and Noble, and other book stores.

*Lastly, what is your definition of success?

My definition of success is simple - making myself proud. I believe your values and beliefs shape your perception of success, and mine happen to revolve around self-improvement and my personal relationships. Every passion or career I pursue is to challenge myself and to positively reflect my loved ones. When that is my goal, whether or not I accomplish a larger goal is irrelevant; when success isn’t a destination but rather a journey, you can never truly fail. 


Of Filipino-Spanish heritage, Yana was born in San Juan in the Metro Manila area, with her mother Flora originally being from Hagonoy, Bulacan in the northern part of the Philippines and her father Raymond from Manila.  The family moved to New Zealand when Yana was three years and then to Australia when she was ten years.  She is the proud older sister of her younger brother Franco, who’s 8 years younger than her and undoubtedly her biggest supporter and fan.  Despite having left the Philippines at such a young age, Yana admirably still speaks fluent Filipino/Tagalog.

Yana completed K-4 in New Zealand primary school and years 4-6 in Australia.  Her secondary level education was at the Penrith Selective High School.  She did an accelerated business studies course a year in advance and undertook her Society and Culture research project on Filipino beauty standards of immigrants vs Filipinos that resided in the Philippines.  She is currently studying study law and commerce at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and will be graduating in 2025.

Other interesting fact bits about Yana – she can sing and play guitar, ukulele, and piano which she turns to when she is not drawing.  She is also currently starting teaching herself to animate and learning German through Duolingo.  Her boyfriend lives in Canberra studying law and international relations at the Australian National University.  So, for now they are having a good LDR (long distance relationship) like many modern-day couples working on endeavours that are for their goals for the future.  


The Australian Filipina congratulates Yana on her achievements and wishes her more success in her future endeavours

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