Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Gina Ardito


"Fall in love with your laugh."


That’s the first thing I saw when I went to Gina Ardito’s website. I was hooked; I had to know more about this writer. I read on and wasn’t disappointed. Gina combines what she believes are life’s two most important qualities, love and laughter, in her books. When she’s not writing, she loves and laughs in Long Island with her husband, two children, a bionic dog and two cats. Sounds like my kind of a person. There's more: not only is Gina good-natured, she’s generous. Leave a comment here and you might be one of two lucky readers to win an autographed copy of her latest book, Nobody's Darling. Now, let’s hear from Gina herself.


SANDY CODY: Tell us about Nobody’s Darling.


GINA ARDITO: I came up with the idea for Nobody’s Darling after a family ski trip a few years ago. When we arrived home, spring had truly sprung in our neighborhood. So my husband and kids immediately took off on a long bike ride to our local Italian ice shop while I unloaded the car then headed to the kennel to pick up our dog. I brought the dog home, gave her a bath, and then unpacked the suitcases and started putting things away. That’s when it struck me: I need a wife. My heroine in Nobody’s Darling, April Raine, runs Rainey-Day-Wife, a parenting services organization that offers families the gift of extra time by taking care of all those little details that pile up. Dr. Jefferson Prentiss, a television psychologist known as Dr. Jeff, believes April’s business actually hurts families by putting their basic needs in the hands of profit-seeking strangers. So the two agree to spend a month in a "Big Brother" style cabin in the mountains in an updated battle of the sexes for the benefit of a daytime talk show. When the dust settles, who will win? The mom or the doc? Or will love prevail?

SANDY: What do you personally like best about this novel?


GINA: This is actually the first in a three-book series. Three sisters who’ve never really been close find new love, which opens them up to personal growth, bringing them to a better understanding of each other. Each sister became special to me as I discovered who they were and what made them tick. I can honestly say writing the stories of the Raine girls brought me to a better understanding of myself.


SANDY: Do you use personal experiences in your books?

GINA: Boy, do I! April Raine and her sisters, Brooklyn and Summer, are actually based on an old family joke. My maiden name is Rean and my dad always used to say he should have named my sisters and me, "Subma," "Aquama," and "Lista." There are several scenes in Nobody’s Darling that are taken directly from incidents with my husband, most notably the tuna scene which happened almost exactly the way I describe it.

SANDY: Tell us about your previous Avalon books.


GINA: I have two other books with Avalon: The Bonds of Matri-money came out in 2007. I describe it as "Survivor meets The Newlywed Game…with handcuffs." A Run for the Money was published in 2009 and is the story of two strangers who must participate in a scavenger hunt in order to inherit a great treasure.


SANDY: What other projects are in the works?


GINA: Book II of the Nobody series, Nobody’s Business, will release in August of this year and I’m currently halfway through Book III, Nobody’s Perfect, which is scheduled for release in December. It’s a busy year for me! I’m toying with the idea of a possible fourth book, Nobody’s Fool, but that’s still in the thinking stages with nothing concrete planned just yet.


SANDY: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer.


GINA: I was six years old and my first grade teacher made me "director" of the class play. Unfortunately, she chose a romance style where the hero had to kiss the heroine at the end. No six-year-old boy wanted that starring role. When I complained to my teacher, she told me as the director, it was up to me to figure out how to make it work. I rewrote the play, added a dragon who kills the hero at the end. Suddenly I had boys eager to play the part just to die onstage. I then won an award for my slogan for Safety Awareness Week and another for the play I wrote for Dental Health Week. Tasting success that early made me realize this was what I wanted to do.


SANDY: What part of writing do you find most satisfying?


GINA: Honestly? All of it. I love creating new characters and a new story line. I love plotting what to do to those characters and writing them out of whatever I’ve thrown them into. I love The End. I love seeing every new cover, and holding my book in my hands. I love meeting and talking to readers or helping new writers find their way.


SANDY: What part do you find most difficult?


GINA: It depends on the story. Sometimes getting started is the hardest for me. Sometimes, it’s keeping the tension taut in those middle pages. And because I don’t really plot in advance, I often struggle with ways to get my characters out of the mess they’ve made. But somehow, it all works out at the end and then I’m back to satisfied.


SANDY: What comes first for you? Characters? Story? Setting?


GINA: I usually start with a character or a one-line plot. Like the "I need a wife" bit. When I originally began that story, all I knew was my character’s name and the type of business she ran. It was only after I got deeper into the storyline that I realized that April needed to repair her relationship with her sisters in order to truly be happy.


SANDY: Where do you find inspiration?


GINA: Everywhere. I’m a people watcher by nature. When I’m stuck in traffic, I’ll glance at the cars around me and create stories about where they’re going, where they’ve been, what they’re thinking. I’ve created stories based on dreams or conversations I’ve overheard. One of my historical novels (written under my pen name, Katherine Brandon) came about because my husband’s boss asked me what kind of hero and heroine he and his wife would be. I wrote a contemporary with another publisher, A Little Slice of Heaven, because my local pizza guys complained no one ever wrote a romance that took place in a pizzeria. I promised I would and delivered on that promise.


SANDY: What other authors do you especially admire?


GINA: I admire the work ethic of Nora Roberts, the heroes written by Suzanne Brockmann, the humor of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the prose of Shelby Reed, the characterization of Barbara Freethy and the world building of Katherine Allred. I read a variety of genres and love to discover a new writer to add to my automatic buy list. Most recently, I met Virginia Kantra at a conference, liked her personally and picked up the first book in her latest series. I was wowed by her voice and her imagination. I just ordered the rest of the available books and can’t wait to dive in.


SANDY; What do you do when you're not writing?


GINA: Sleep. And read.


SANDY: Do you have a schedule for writing or do you squeeze it in when you can?


GINA: I write whenever I can, which, lucky, for me, is often. I work part time and hit the gym 4-5 times a week, but even when I can’t physically write, I’m thinking about my next scene, my next chapter, my next story. When I don’t write, I blog about writing, teach courses about writing (online and at conferences), and talk writing with my chaptermates at Dunes & Dreams Romance Writers, the chapter of Romance Writers of America that I co-founded.


SANDY: What refreshes you creatively?


GINA: Water. When I’m blocked, I take a bath or shower or head to the shore with my laptop. Something about water rejuvenates my creative spark.


SANDY: Any secret goals or dreams?


GINA: I don’t think it’s much of a secret. I want to keep writing and publishing until they pry the laptop from my rigor mortised fingers.


SANDY: Thanks so much, Gina, for taking time to share your thoughts with us. And to Avalon Author readers: If you want to learn more about Gina, you can go to one of her websites: http://www.ginaardito.com/ or http://www.katherinebrandon.com/ Don’t forget – if you leave a comment here, you might win an autographed copy of Nobody’s Darling.    

43 comments:

Emma Leigh said...

Nobody's Darling sounds wonderful. Definitely has been put on my "To Read" list. I love finding new authors to read. Gina sounds like she writes a lot like me, from life experiences.

I.J. Parnham said...

That cover and title made me start singing Move Over, Darling. Was the mention of Day in the name of the company a tribute?

Maggie Van Well said...

I loved The Bonds of Matri-Money and A Little Slice of Heaven, so you can imagine I can't wait to read the "Darling" series. Thanks for the awesome interview :)

Carolyn Hughey said...

What a great interview! I've known for a long time that Gina's got what it takes to be successful. And I have the good fortune of being Gina's critique partner on her current manuscript "Nobody's Business"and I love her writing, her wit, and her humor.

After critiquing her work I find myself laughing long after I've finished the chapter. There are so many 'Lucy' moments in her writing, you don't want it to stop. I haven't read her other work yet but I'm looking to read all of her stories!

Jennifer Labelle said...

Great interview, Gina. Nobody's Darling sounds very intriguing!

Sandy Cody said...

I laughed just reading over her answers. Now I can't wait to read one of the books.

ReneeRearden said...

Gina,

Great interview. I LOVE the blurb. Made me wish t.v. had a real reality show like Nobody's Darling. And I'm soooo getting The Bonds of Matri-money. I'm a huge Survivor fan and I grew up watching The Newlywed Game. By combining those two AND throwing in handcuffs...I'm sold! =D

I can't wait to read Nobody's Darling.

ReneeRearden(at)yahoo(dot)com

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Loved the interview. Your family must think you're a hoot to live with. And your books sound delightful.

Ginger Duran said...

Terrific interview! I love the premise of the story--can't wait to read Gina's stories.

Emma Leigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Gina,
Looking forward to your "Nobody" series , looks to be very entertaining.
EMB
emb4s@hotmail.com

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi I.J. "Day" was just a play on saving for a rainy day. No secret message or special significance.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hey, Carolyn! (Did you all know she's my Bling Girl?) Would you believe in high school my best friend and I were known as Lucy and Ethel? Yeah... you probably *would* believe that. But would you believe *I* was Ethel? No lie.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Thanks, Sandy! And thanks for inviting me to do this interview. I couldn't have done it without you.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hey, Loretta.
I'm not sure my family finds me quite as entertaining. I'm a writer, remember? Which means I obsess about fictional people, fictional places, and fictional situations on a regular basis. In fact, my kids are only thrilled with me when they need someone to edit their reports and essays. The hubster? After 25 years of "wedded bliss" he *tolerates* my idiosyncracies because I know where all the bank accounts are. LOL!

Carolyn Brown said...

Great interview! Sounds like you are living the dream!

Jennifer Mathis said...

Awesome interview and the book sounds fab.
Meandi09@yahoo.com

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

(At Carolyn Brown): Ooh! I've arrived. A comment from "Lady Avalon!" (If you don't know Carolyn Brown, you're missing out an uber-talented lady, folks.)

I'm definitely doing my best to live that dream!

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi EMB.
Thanks for stopping by!

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Thanks Ginger! Nice to see you here.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Thanks, Renee! Definitely pick up a copy of The Bonds of Matri-money. I promise you a fun read!

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Thanks, Jennifer.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hey Maggie! I'm reserving a copy for you at tonight's Book Club Bash.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi Emma.
I definitely do write from real life (with fantasy abs for all my characters!) Thanks for stopping by.

Jerri said...

I think I got to see bits and pieces of this story. I loved it!

Danielle Monsch said...

Great interview Gina! Your love for writing certainly comes through, and it's awesome you have found success with it!

Tuere Morton said...

Awesome interview!! I especially loved the part about you directing a play when you were 6-years-old. It's astounding to think about the influences in our lives responsible for what we turn out to be. Can't wait to read 'Nobody's Darling' :)

desitheblonde said...

wow first your hair is gorgeous i like how authors can do the family and then can get into the book i m beta reader and would like to read it

desitheblonde said...

i posted it in the face book page and twitter if you are there hit me up

desitheblonde said...

i love the way you were able to do the people and the book together and not worry about the family worried i face book it and then twitter it

Anonymous said...

I am so very honored to be included on your list! And in such AMAZING COMPANY! You made my day, Ms. Ardito--and by the way, the feeling is mutual!

Shelby Reed

Elisabeth Rose said...

Loved your Dad's other names for you :) I put family members and friends in my books too, mostly just their names in a reference rather than as characters. A friend said she nearly fell out of bed with surprise when she discovered herself in my first book. LOL

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Jerri!
Yeah, I think you probably did see this in its infancy stages.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi Dani (who also has a new book out this week!) I always tell my kids the secret to happiness is "Do what you love; love what you do." I'm living proof.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

And congrats to Tuere who sat with me on her very first authors' panel tonight. I often wonder if that teacher is still around because I'd love to tell her what a profound effect she had on my life.

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Desi, thanks for the hair comment. :-) I love writing series because I usually find so much more I want to say about secondary characters!

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi Elisabeth!
I'm usually pretty careful when basing characters on real people to avoid actual names. For example, I'm writing characters right now that are based on my son and his cousin, and while I've used the same initials (so I can keep them separate), and many of their antics, the names are not theirs. Safer that way! (And yes, I've assured them the statute of limitations has run out on anything they tell me they've done that I didn't previously know about.)

Anonymous said...

Gina, enjoyed the interview. I look forward to reading your work.
Giovanna

Jayne Ormerod said...

I'm a huge fan of romantic comedy since I discovered Harlequin Duets last decade (which also happens to be last century...) I'm so glad to see Avalon Books keeping that trend alive. Nobody's Darling sounds like a fabulous read! ~ Jayne

PS...does your husband know he stars in a scene? Mine would die of embarassment if I admitted to that. He doesn't yet realize that he and my son are my inspiration for my comedic cozy adventures!

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi Jayne!
My poor husband. He thinks he inspires *all* my hero's scenes. (I don't have the heart to tell him I'm picturing Johnny Depp, George Clooney, or Brad Pitt 90% of the time.)

Peggy said...

The three sisters theme is amusing to me. I'm sandwiched between two generations of three sisters, but I have none. I've always wanted a sister. My mom and her sisters enjoy each other so much, especially since they're old now. My three daughters are always doing things together and have such a good time. I miss out on everything. :(

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hooray! Shelby Reed heard I admire her. :-)

Gina Ardito/Katherine Brandon said...

Hi Peggy.
Trust me; having sisters isn't always fabulous. But it does give me fodder for stories. LOL