Sunday, February 12, 2012

Interview with Gina Ardito

Today, I have the pleasure of introducting Gina Ardito, one of Avalon's authors. She gives us a fresh insight as to how she keeps her series fresh and exciting. Many thanks, Gina.

How long have you been writing, and what inspired you to become a writer?
Officially, I’ve been writing fifteen years. Unofficially I started writing at the age of six (when I won my first writing competition). So that’s sixteen years ago.
Then I grew up and real life got in the way. I’d always talked
about writing a book one day but didn’t ever commit to it—until I was pregnant
with my son and too sick to continue working my full-time job. My husband
brought me home an old computer from his office and told me, “Write the book or
shut up about it.” I wrote the book. And then another. And then another. My son
was born in February 1997 and my first book was published with Avalon Books ten
years later. In hindsight, my husband probably wishes I had “shut up about it.”

What genre do you write, and why did you choose this particular genre?

I write romance for any number of reasons. I really do prefer a story with a happy
ending. What I love most about romance is that there’s no limit to the stories
I can create. I can use any time period (past, present or future), any locale
(on Earth or in an alternative world), and my characters can come together in
pursuit of a serial killer, a precious jewel, or even the perfect cup of
coffee. I can write historical romance, paranormal romance, futuristic romance,
romantic suspense, romantic comedy, series romance or any combination. As long as my hero and heroine fall in lovewhile seeking their goal, my imagination is never fenced in. That’s a lot of

Why did you choose to write a series rather than a single title novel?

While Iwas writing Book I, Nobody’s Darling, I realized how much of my heroine, April’s, conflict was tied up in her relationship with her sisters. Clearly, the Raine girls still had some
unfinished business between them. It was only natural for me to want to pursue
the sibling dynamic so that all three of my sisters could learn to love each
other as well as the new men in their lives. Lucky for me, I pitched the series
(when only the first book was written) to the Avalon editor and she loved the
idea. She bought all three based on the first three chapters of Book I and a brief
rundown of the other two books in the series.

What is the secret to writing a series? How do you keep the
plots fresh, and how do you avoid overlapping information from one book’s
content to the next title?

If there’s a secret, I haven’t figured it out yet. (And I’m currently working on
my third series!) Since each of my stories in my series centers on a different
character, I’m able to treat each book as a separate entity. I also create
unique characters for every story, whether it’s someone who appears on one page
or throughout several books. In this way, my characters don’t become
cookie-cutter so their plot lines don’t mirror each other. For example, my
Raine girls: April, Brooklyn, and Summer all have very different personalities
and different conflicts. April, the high school dropout, never felt as if she
was as successful as her sisters. Brooklyn was a sports superstar who’s been
traumatized by the press and gone into hiding. Summer thought she lived the
perfect life until the day it all fell apart.

I do overlap a little; there have to be some common threads between the stories in a
series. For example, Summer’s marriage is already showing cracks in Nobody’s Darling, starts crumbling in Nobody’s Business, but completely implodes
at the beginning of Nobody’s Perfect.

Do you incorporate some of yourself into your characters, e.g. personality traits, likes or dislikes?

Yes. But it’s not just me that winds up on the page. Everyone I know inspires me in some
way. Funny bits of dialogue, a character quirk, and whole scenes have been
lifted from my personal life. There’s actually a scene in Nobody’s Darling where April tells Jeff about the first time she brought a boyfriend home to meet her parents. What happens to April is exactly what happened to me when I brought my first boyfriend home to meet my parents.
Putting my own history on the page is cathartic, but it also helps me figure
out where my story will go since the path has already been walked by someone

If you had to change genres, which would you choose and why?

I love to read thrillers, particularly stories with a peculiar twist. Characters like Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles, Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter, and even Hannibal Lecter all fascinate me. I would love to try my hand at writing one, but I can’t keep a secret so I’m afraid I’d give away the ending within the first twenty pages.

What research techniques do you use? How do you incorporate the information into your novels to keep it from sounding like a repeated list of facts?

Since I write both historical and contemporary romance, I have different ways of
researching each. My contemporary stories rely on a lot of hands-on research.
For Nobody’s Business, I corresponded with students and instructors of Ski-Hab style programs, and for Nobody’s Perfect, I consulted a bridal salon and wedding planner to get the details just right.

When I’m writing historicals, I do some research online, but still rely heavily on non-fiction
books for fact-checking. If I’m lucky enough to find a local historian (which has happened), I interview him/her extensively. Making sure I incorporate the information naturally is another reason why I don’t primarily use the Internet for research. It’s too easy to cut and paste, or to
incorporate too much information. By jotting down notes by hand, I’m forced to be more concise and more focused on just the pertinent details. And then I have to incorporate them into my story in my own voice.

What hinders your writing? (Distractions? Noise? Other?)

Believe it or not, silence drives me bonkers. I honed my writing skills when my son was
still in diapers, with Nickelodeon and PBS in the background, so I have to have
some kind of noise around me when I write. Whether it’s music (I love to choose
a “soundtrack” for a book and write exclusively to a playlist I’ve created) or
the television, I need background activity to do my best work.

What do you have in the works?

I’m currently working on a new series—a bit bigger and broader than the
Nobodys—that will revolve around a fictional beach resort town on the South
Fork of Long Island. There’ll be lots of fun characters, at different junctures
of life, all seeking their particular version of Happily Ever After.

Tell us about your newest Avalon book – Nobody’s Perfect.

Nobody’s Perfect is the third installment of my Nobody series. To outsiders, Summer Raine has a perfect life. But inside her perfect home, her perfect marriage has fallen apart.
Still, she never expected to have her husband's infidelity aired on Cliff
Hanger's nationally syndicated radio show. Once she's tossed the cheater out,
she hopes to start her own business as a wedding planner. Funds, however, are
in short supply. Lucky for Summer, her sister April hires her to work at
Rainey-Day-Wife until she can get back on her feet again. But...Summer? A

Craig Hartmann spends his work days as Cliff Hanger, shock jock, but in real life, he's a quiet, divorced father of three trying to hang onto his family and his sanity. What he needs is someone who'll help him find the perfect balance. When he seeks an expert at Rainey-Day-Wife, he's
stunned to find himself face to face with the woman whose life he ruined in a
radio stunt gone awry.

Juggling sports practices, temper tantrums, and trips to the emergency room while planning the celebrity wedding of her sister's dreams, Summer discovers that the "perfect" life is one where nothing ever goes as planned. But this hunky deejay, his three rambunctious children,
and all the chaos they engender just might be a perfect fit for Summer.

Thank you, Gina. It's been great fun getting to know you. For Valentine's Day, if you're looking for a gift to give to that 'special' someone, consider giving a book. "Nobody's Perfect" is available.


Sheila Claydon said...

As you know, I'm already one of your biggest fans Gina, so I enjoyed learning more about how and why you write.

I loved Nobody's Darling and I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.

Gina/Katherine said...

Thanks, Sheila! I can't wait to dig into Accident Prone. It's on my soon to be read list.

Rebecca L. Boschee said...

Great interview, Gina! Love the answer about why you like writing romance. (:

Sandy Cody said...

Gina, I love the way you incorporate bits of a previous book into the newest entry of a series. It's kind of like going to the next house on the block and getting to know the next door neighbor.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

It was so much fun interviewing Gina and reading her answers. She is a delightful person. And a special thanks to her for allowing me to plague her with questions about forming an RWA chapter.

Gina/Katherine said...

Thanks, Rebecca. I'm guessing you feel the same way about why you write romance?

Gina/Katherine said...

That's a great analogy! I'm already learning about the next door neighbors for my new series. Such fun people. :-)

Gina/Katherine said...

No special thanks required. I'm a born 'helper.' And for some people who *really* know me, your comment is going to make them laugh out loud. (But that's a story for another time.)

Carolyn Hughey said...

Always a great interviewee, my Gina's a fun writer on so many levels, and her descriptions are so well done, she draws you right in and you're in the moment as that character. She always makes me laugh whether it's the written word or some off the wall comment she makes in person. Can you tell she's one of my all-around favorite people?

Jayne Ormerod... said...

Concur with other commenters, Gina is a delightful person as well as a talented writer. I'd lost track when the next "Nobody's" book was to be released. I'm off to my library right now to get on the waiting list! Thanks Gina and Loretta!

Beate Boeker said...

Your novel sounds like so much fun, Gina! Thank you for the great interview.

Gina/Katherine said...

Thanks Carolyn, Jayne and Beate! You ladies make me feel so loved. :-)

jen shields said...

Just recieved my copy of the first book in the series. Can't wait to start reading. I'm so tired of reading textbooks, bring on the romance!