Gina Ardito is the award-winning international author of more than twenty romances; a legendary singer in private, confined spaces (her car, the shower, her office cubicle); and a killer of houseplants. She hosts fun, informative workshops for writers around the country. In 2012, Gina was named a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s Leadership Association.
To her everlasting shame, despite all her accomplishments, she’ll never be more famous than her dog, who starred in commercials for 2015’s Puppy Bowl. A native of Long Island, New York, she lives with her husband, two children, the aforementioned famous dog, and two cat overlords.
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(8) Free kindleeBook,
Eternally Yours (The Afterlife Series Book 1)by Gina ArditoPublish: Jun 26, 2012Series: The Afterlife SeriesParanormal Romance
(6) $4.99 kindleeBook,
Even Now (Osprey Cove Pets Book 1)by Gina ArditoPublish: Aug 30, 2018Series: Osprey Cove Pets SeriesContemporary Romance
Lightning in a Bottleby Gina ArditoPublish: Mar 01, 2019Contemporary Romance
Memories in December (Calendar Girls Book 4)by Gina ArditoPublish: Nov 07, 2019Contemporary Romance
I was born in a small Long Island town called Copiague (pronounced KO-peg) and lived there until I got married. These days, my husband and I live with our family in another Long Island town: Stony Brook. We’ll be here until we retire and then it’s off to a different state. We haven’t decided where yet but we have a few options on the table.What first got you into writing? Do you remember the first instance in which you discovered that books and literature had power?
I was six years old when I wrote my first story for Dental Health Week at school. The class performed it as a play, I directed it, and I won a prize! I think I peaked there. LOL! The first book that resonated as powerful with me was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, I was probably six or seven when I read it and the idea of running away to live in a big museum where I could spend all day learning and solve mysteries at night enthralled me.What is it about the contemporary romance genre that resonates with you? Have you ever dabbled with other genres like fantasy or historical romance?
I love when my characters tackle problems readers can truly relate to. My main characters have been recovering alcoholics, a victim of spousal abuse, a veteran with PTSD, an amputee, a caretaker for a family member with dementia, and one is questioning the strength of her marriage when she suffers a massive heart attack. In my upcoming release, I have a heroine who is a recovering bulimic. I love to challenge my characters to rise up from adversity. I’ve written several paranormal and historical romances, as well. The historicals are currently unavailable since I’ve reclaimed the rights from the publisher and plan to update and re-release them in the coming year. While the majority of my books are contemporary, it’s the story that calls to me, not the time frame or world.What did you learn while writing The Afterlife Series? What are some ways you think you've grown as a writer in all these years?
The Afterlife Series is unique, not just in my list of written books, but in its subject matter. My main characters have all committed suicide while on Earth. The three stories in the series revolve around what drove my characters to that tragic end and what they learn about themselves on the “other side.” I did a lot of research into the belief systems of various cultures around the world to create my Afterlife. Shortly after I wrote the first book in the series, Eternally Yours, a beloved family member committed suicide. There was no warning, no signs he was troubled at all. Writing in that world and allowing my characters to find peace after death provided me with a hopeful ending for my relative. Several readers who loved suicide victims have written to tell me the books provided them with that same hope. With each book I write, I can see the growth in my world view, in my prose, and in the subjects I tackle. I’ve learned to go with my gut when the story requires it. Eternally Yours was the book no editor or agent would take on because my heroine commits suicide on page one. They all wanted her to die from some nobler action, but I knew the story hinged on her being completely broken and self-destructive when she landed in the Afterlife. Otherwise, there was no real story arc. I was right.What was the best award winning moment and why? Which is your personal favorite book from the books that you have written so far?
There is no best. I’m always stunned when something I write resonates with readers. It’s what I strive for, but I never really expect it to happen. When it does, whether it’s an award, a really touching review, or the occasional email from a reader that says my story touched them in some way, I’m thrilled and honored – every time. My personal favorite book (don’t tell the others!) is Eternally Yours. I love the characters, the world I created for them, and the storyline. When I finished it, I sat back and said, “If I never write another word, I’m satisfied I’ve left the world with this book.” I still feel that way.You cannot sleep without background noise so the television's on all night. How do your children and husband adjust with it? Do you treat them with cookies?
My kids are exactly like me when it comes to their sleeping habits. I think, for them, it probably started when they were infants. I’d get up for those midnight feedings, bring them into the living room, and turn the TV on. Now, they can’t sleep without it either. My poor husband has learned to deal with it. It’s been 32 years now. Most nights, he turns the television off once I’m in deep sleep – usually around 2 or 3 in the morning. Lately, though, I wake up in the morning and it’s still on, so he’s either finally given in, or he’s sleeping deeper than I am.What felt like receiving the 2015 Winner - Best Contemporary Romance - NJRW's Golden Leaf Awards for "Reunion in October"? What or who inspired the character of Francesca?
To be honest, it was a disappointment in one way. Allow me to explain. What makes the NJRW contest so much fun is Anne Walradt, a chapter member who reads brief scenes from all the finalists’ stories at the Awards Ceremony each year. She’s brilliant at it! The first year I attended the conference and heard her read the finalists’ scenes, it became a dream of mine to hear her read one of mine. In 2015, I accepted an invitation to speak at the Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle, which was scheduled for the same weekend as the NJ Conference. I was actually presenting my workshop in Seattle when the awards ceremony was taking place on the other side of the country in NJ. I only found out I won when I returned to my hotel room afterwards, and my cell phone was blowing up with congratulations messages. Luckily, I attended the NJRW conference the following year and made Anne do a command performance by reading the same scene just for me. She loved the dialogue so much, she bought the book right then and there. Francesca, like all my characters, is loosely based on several people I know with a little bit of me mixed in. The trick to writing using people you know is not revealing so much personality that whoever inspired the character recognizes him/herself in the fictional version. Let’s just leave it at that.
Ha! Ariana is a ten-year-old girl so that’s a trick question. Here’s the trick answer: every character I write has something of me in him/her – including Ariana and Terri. That little girl is a hopeless romantic who sees the good in everyone. When I was a kid, my mother used to say I should write romance books because I lived in a pretty, pink world where everyone was nice and lived happily ever after. She meant it as an insult, but I prefer my world of happily ever afters to a life of negativity. So does Ariana.What does the title "A Run for the Money" tell us about the book? How did you come up with it?
A Run for the Money was originally titled Two for the Money, but my editor thought it sounded too much like an Olsen twins movie. I wanted to keep the “money” aspect, since my first book for the publisher also had “money” in the title. We spitballed a bit, and I think she finally came up with “A Run” as a better option. The basic plot is exactly what the title suggests: two virtual strangers attempting to win a scavenger hunt to gain their inheritance. But the story itself (like all my stories) is so much more. My hero has trouble connecting with his teenage son, and my heroine’s relationship with her mother is bitter and soul-sucking.Your goal is to connect with your readers. How do you try to reach out to them?
I stay in touch through Facebook, Twitter, and to a lesser degree, Instagram. I don’t take many pictures – almost never of myself – and though I’ve tried a thousand ways (and even asked my kids for help) I can’t seem to link my Instagram account to the other two, so it suffers from a bit of neglect. Since the pics I post on Facebook/Twitter (which are linked) don’t automatically forward to IG, it requires me to repeat the same info to share there. I also love booksignings and conferences. I will travel just about anywhere to meet my readers face-to-face – especially if I can drive to an event and spend the night before heading home again. There is nothing like a few hours with readers, followed by room service in a hotel to make me feel like I’m on vacation.What are some of your hobbies? Name one of your favorite songs from jingles from television, crazy stuff you used to listen to on Dr. Demento, Broadway and movie soundtracks.
I’m a nerd of the first order. I love word games like Scrabble or crossword puzzles. When my kids were younger and we’d go out to dinner, they’d team up with my husband to try to stump me at Hangman while we waited for our food. They never did. I’m pretty good at figuring out what letters belong together to create words. I love spending time with my dog, Zoe the Wonder Pup, taking walks and snuggling on the couch. I don’t have a favorite television jingle, but I can sing (in their entirety) songs that appeared on single episodes of shows like The Flintstones, Charlie’s Angels, The Honeymooners, The Odd Couple, and so on. Dr. Demento is where Weird Al Yankovic got his start. I think his first hit was “Another One Rides the Bus,” to Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, which had this great chorus: “And another gets on, and another gets on. Another one rides the bus. Hey! He’s gonna sit by you! Another one rides the bus.” Rumor has it he recorded the song in the men’s room of his college dorm and sent it in for giggles. The rest is history. I have several songs by Tom Lehrer on my iPhone playlist: The Masochism Tango and Poisoning Pigeons in the Park are two. And Barnes & Barnes’s iconic Fish Heads is a must-have for me. My current favorite movie soundtrack is The Greatest Showman. You can’t help but feel inspired! My current favorite Broadway soundtrack is Hamilton, but I’m waiting for the release of the soundtrack of the most recent play I saw on Broadway, Getting the Band Back Together. That will be fun to own. Some of the odder Broadway soundtracks I have come from Heathers, Legally Blonde, and The Full Monty. I’m not big on the classics: Les Mis, Phantom, etc. Give me the quirky stuff.You consider shopping and dining out excellent therapy for anything wrong in your life? Where do you go for shopping most often?
Years ago, when my husband and I were first married, I was a Spiegel catalog girl. The beauty about Spiegel at the time was you’d call an 800 number to place your order. So whenever my husband did something to tick me off, I’d call Spiegel. And after I ordered whatever caught my eye in the catalog, the operator would begin her usual spiel. “Would you like to hear about the special sale of the day?” and it was always some kind of silk blouse or V-neck sweater, or jeans available in eight colors. I’d say, “Yes, please!” and order at least two of whatever the sale item was. My husband would know how angry I was based on the size of the box that appeared on our doorstep a few days later. Nowadays, I owe half my monthly salary to Amazon; the other half to Macy’s.One thing you wish you knew when you were a teenager? What inspired you to finally start eating salads about ten years ago?
I wish I’d known what most teenagers don’t believe: that life would get better. I had an unhappy adolescence. I often went to bed at night, praying I wouldn’t wake up. But those years were such a small part of my life when you consider it as a time span. And in many ways, they shaped me into who I am now. I’ve learned to be grateful I survived. I finally started eating salads (with lots of dressing) because I realized my kids were probably the only kids in the neighborhood who had never tasted lettuce—and they were teenagers at the time! I wanted them to have better eating habits and had to lead by example. (But I’d still rather have a cookie!)What are some goals you wish to achieve through your career of being an author? Do you wish to be more famous than your dog, who starred in commercials for 2015’s Puppy Bowl?
Fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ll let Zoe the Wonder Pup have all the accolades. I swear, she knows she’s a celebrity. I take her for walks, and she turns on the charm for strangers until they notice her and remark about how cute she is. Then she walks away with this distinctive jaunt in her step, her tail wagging. Her day is made. My main goal as an author is (always) to expand my audience. I believe I write great stories that will make you laugh, make you sigh a little, and maybe, make you think. I don’t write for fame, or for fortune, but because I want to entertain as many people as I can reach. Sometimes, writing is like screaming into a void. You wonder if anyone’s listening on the other side. Want to make me ecstatic? Tell me you read my book and ask me about a scene or character you loved.
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