Yes friends, we have awesome Gina Ardito visiting us. Gina please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m multi-published (thirteen books and counting!) in contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance. Although I started out with a small NY publisher, I’ve since launched into indie publishing and find a lot of freedom in being able to release a book when I’m ready, control the cover art, and have all the info about sales, etc. at my fingertips. I also run a freelance editing business for fiction writers: Excellence in Editing. I live on Long Island (NY) with my husband of 26+ years, our two kids, their assorted friends who find the Ardito kitchen the best place in the world to hang out, a bionic dog, and two cats who allow us to pay them homage on a regular basis. Last year, the International Women’s Leadership Association named me as a Woman of Outstanding Leadership in the field of Publishing—an honor that I’m very proud of!
Gina I know that you have worked hard for that recognition. How did you decide to enter the world of writing?
I’d always wanted to write and collected spiral notebooks with dozens of unfinished stories ever since I was in junior high school. When I was pregnant with my son (sixteen years ago!), I was confined to home for the last trimester due to complications. That was when my husband brought home our first desktop computer, hooked it up and said, “Either write the damn book or shut up about it.” I wrote the damn book and never looked back.
What does your family think of your writing?
Would you believe me if I said they’ve never read any of my books? They’ve read scenes or helped me brainstorm, but (as painful as this is to admit), I am the only real recreational reader in my family. My husband reads complicated legal and financial documents as a huge part of his job so reading for pleasure is a concept that escapes him. My daughter just got a Kindle for Christmas (for her college textbooks) and has recently discovered how easy it is to download a book she’s “always wanted to read” and dig in. There’s hope for her. My son...he’s sixteen. Even if he did read, he wouldn’t admit it and definitely NOT romance novels! In public, they’re all proud of me and they boast about my many published books. Just don’t ask them to describe any of those books in detail.
Where do you get your ideas?
I often wonder what people who don’t write have in their heads at any given moment. My husband claims my brain is like an attic in an old house, cluttered with stuff no one else cares about. I find inspiration everywhere: my dreams, people I meet, conversations I overhear (I’m a notorious snoop). I can make up a story about the guy in the car next to me in a traffic jam or the woman behind me on line at the DMV. Everything is fodder.
Can you tell us a little about your book?
Eternally Yours is the legendary book of my heart and explores the concept of love after death. What happens to love when we die? And how do the scars of our time on Earth affect us in the Afterlife? It’s weighty subject matter, and yet, the story itself is fun and insightful. After one too many disappointments in her life, Jodie Devlin commits suicide. Rather than this being the end of her problems, it turns out to be the beginning. Since she died before her scheduled time, she’ll have to become an employee in the Afterlife until a new life path can be arranged for her. She becomes a bounty hunter, retrieving ghosts who’ve lingered on Earth. Each spirit comes from a different time and place with a unique backstory that resonates with Jodie. By helping them come to terms with their deaths, she comes to terms with her own choices. Too bad she’s been paired with Luc Asante, a bitter man whose wife pulled him off life support too early. Jodie is as soft as he is tough, as naive as he is cynical, and as impulsive as he is methodical. If they weren’t already dead, working together would probably kill them.
Wow Gina this story sounds awesome! Very creative writing. What is your writing process?
I write like a crack addict. Whenever I can sneak in a word, a sentence, a scene, I write. I get up in the morning and write. On my break and lunch hour at my day job, I write. I come home and before I start dinner, I write. I have notebooks all over my house (along with dozens of pens), a laptop, a netbook, and the memo section of my iPod all prepped and ready to write when I’m fired up. I keep a print out of my most recently written scene tucked in my purse at all times for traffic jams, doctors’ appointments, and any other downtime. I edit as I go along so when I type The End, I have a fairly pristine manuscript, ready to be reviewed by my private editor and my beta readers.
Well that sounds like me, lol. I work on my stories all of my spare time. What was the hardest part for you when working on your book?
For Eternally Yours, it was The End. I don’t ever plot a story and for this one in particular, I needed my hero and heroine to make the ultimate sacrifice for love. Since they’re already dead, that left out a lot of possibilities. Eventually, I revisited the pain that had brought each of them to the Afterlife and made them face that pain head-on.
What influenced or inspired you to write? I’ve always loved stories. I grew up in a household where there were more kids than money so books were our main entertainment. I had a library card from the day I could print my name. My parents had a collection of Readers’ Digest Condensed Books in their bedroom and I would choose a volume to read every month. By the time I was ten, I had devoured stories like The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Women, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Wuthering Heights. At the age of thirteen, I discovered my older sister’s stash of romance novels and fell in love with the genre. I decided I wanted to someday write my own stories of dashing heroes and plucky heroines. After that, I was constantly plotting, researching, and starting chapters for my eventual novel. It took me twenty years from dreaming to actually sitting at that desktop computer when I was eight months pregnant.
Was there a scene that you didn’t add or you removed in your finished work?
In the opening chapter, my heroine, Jodie, commits suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, downed with a bottle of vodka, and immersing herself in a filled bathtub. Her self-termination is the vehicle that transports her to the Afterlife and is crucial to propelling the story forward. Editors and agents repeatedly rejected the manuscript because they hated the whole idea of a heroine’s suicide. In its original form, I described every step of her death in detail, but in deference to my readers’ sensitivity, I eventually cut the scene so now the reader sees her sinking into the tub and immediately waking up in the Afterlife.
It sounds like a great way to start the story Gina. This story sounds truly unique. Do you have a favorite character (from your book)? Why?
I actually fell in love with a secondary character, Sean Martino. This happens to me a lot. My main characters are vividly displayed on the page, their flaws as well as their virtues under high intensity lighting. After a while, those flaws begin to annoy me—especially when they keep letting those flaws get in the way of their happily ever after! But my secondary characters always seem to primarily show their best sides: their humor, their clever wit, their joie de vivre. I sometimes fall so hard for them, I wind up writing a sequel that features them. Then I autopsy them on the page with their flaws as well as their virtues, and the love affair ends. Eventually, Sean will get his own story. Until then, he’s perfect just the way he is.
Do you already know what to write next? Can you tell us?
I’m currently working on a new series (The Calendar Girls) that takes place in a small resort town on the east end of Long Island. Two books are already complete: Duet in September and Reunion in October. I’m currently at work on the third, Homecoming in November. In this particular series, each book features two heroines at crossroads in their lives. Homecoming features Terri, a recovering alcoholic who’s returning to her hometown after completing a stint in a rehab facility, and Jayne, a veterinarian who has run to this seaside town to avoid the media after a public tragedy in her private life.
Where can we find more information about you and your books?
The best place to find up-to-date info is my website: www.ginaardito.com, but you can also follow me on Facebook (GinaArdito) and Twitter (@GinaArdito).
Do you have any last words?
Don’t just dare to dream; dare to do.
I totally agree with that Gina. I even wrote a poem this week on dreams. Thank you for visiting and sharing. I hope that you visit us soon to share your next books.
Fun Questions ~
I love weekends because?
I get to sleep until 8 am. Seriously. And when I get up, I get to spend hours writing, instead of little windows of time. (Housework is always lowest on my to-do list.)
I hate ignorance.
I want to buy a vacation home for my hubster with my first huge royalty check.
My favorite song is Clarity by Zedd right now (this changes routinely.)
My favorite precious stone is an opal, which I can’t own because legend says it’s bad luck for anyone who wasn’t born in October. Sadly, I’m an August babe.
I want to travel to Paris for the romance, history, and food. What more could anyone want out of life? Besides, I’ve already been to London (a place where I swear I lived in a past life!)
I want to meet people from all walks of life. I’m not big on fame or religious icons, but I love having conversations with strangers. Not just “Do you believe how crowded this place is?” conversations—genuine discussions. I’m the person you probably dread sitting next to on a plane because I’ll start talking to you and get your whole life story during the flight. A few months ago, I attended a conference in a large hotel in NY. During a break, I sat in the coffee shop and a woman asked to share my table with me because the place was packed. Turned out, she was there for an interview for a job with the U.N. How cool is that? We talked all through our lunch. I left with info for a possible character in the future, she left with a new author to check out. Win/win.
I want to invite all of my writing friends to dinner. Thanks to the Internet, I have friends around the world. Some I only see at conferences. Many others, I’ve only spoken to online. If I could, I would host an enormous dinner party and invite all of these special people to a get-together where we could chat about our characters, our plot lines, the struggle to find enough writing time, and all the other issues non-writers don’t realize are crucial to our daily lives.
My dream is to reach the stage where I can make enough money at writing to give up the day job.
My favorite book is as random as my favorite song. There’s no such thing as an eternal favorite book. The more I read, the more I fall in love with. The best book I read this past year was probably Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, which turns the Robin Hood/Will Scarlet legend on its head. I’m also a sucker for J.D. Robb’s In Death series and all of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, and I can read those over and over again. And if you’re asking about my own books? Eternally Yours. But ask me again next year and I’ll have a whole new crop of favorites.