Interview with Gina Ciocca!

Interview with Gina Ciocca!


The Serious Interview Questions:

What made you want to become an author?

I have wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. I was a quiet, shy kid who always had her nose in a book growing up. I loved the escape that books offered, the way I could feel like I’d been on an adventure without ever leaving my chair. I’ve wanted to create that feeling with my own stories since second grade. Luckily my skill has improved since then… I hope!

Tell us about your current work in progress

It’s very strange to me that LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE is no longer a work in progress. I just handed in my final changes and now that’s it – it’s about to become a real book. *breathes into a paper bag*

The story I’m currently working on is another YA contemporary, about a girl who becomes an unwitting teenage spy of sorts while trying to help out an old friend – and finds herself falling for said friend’s boyfriend. I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing it, and it contains what I think might be my favorite of all the kissing scenes I’ve written.

What do you do to cure writer’s block?

There are two kinds of writer’s block, in my opinion: one where the words just won’t come, no matter what, and another where you’re writing the whole time, but think all of it is horrendous. For the latter, I’m a strong advocate of “Let Your Suck Flow,” which I talked about here:

And for the former, I’ve learned not to beat myself up for taking a break. Sometimes a little distance from a project is the best thing you can do for it. I take lots of long walks, listen to music that inspires me, and cut back on social media. Usually, it’s not long before the words (or the suck) start to flow again.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a little bit of both. When I have a new idea, I’ll write a fake query letter to get the main plot points down. But I’ve learned not to bother writing outlines, because I never stick to them. I always have a general idea of where I want a story to go, but how I get there involves a lot of “what if” trial and error and a lot of curveballs. And I kind of like it that way.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I write around the same time every day, but only because it’s when my son naps!

What is your favorite book? Favorite book to movie adaptation? Least favorite?

I have so many books that I love. Some of my all-time favorites are: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand, and The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater.

My favorite book-to-movie adaptation has to be GONE WITH THE WIND. I saw the movie long before I ever read the book, and I fell in love with it. Vivien Leigh is so beautiful, and no prom dress could ever top those poofy creations she wore. And Rhett…Rhett Butler is the most badass of them all.

As far as least favorite, I’ve heard there’s a FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC movie or two floating around out there, but I refuse to see them. The story has so many different levels of twisted, creepy emotion that, in my mind, it’s one of those books that no movie could ever possibly get right. 

Tell us about your journey to publication. What was it like?

It definitely wasn’t easy. I was an English major in college, but then I graduated and did nothing pertaining to my degree. It wasn’t until I’d been working an office job for 8 years that I realized I needed to get back in touch with my creative side. I wrote my first novel in 2009, but it was doomed from the start – the mc was a college junior, New Adult was not yet a thing, and it was about a dead girl in a time when “paranormal” was a four-letter word (read: post-Twilight era). Also, it was kind of a train wreck.  

I queried that novel to an unsurprisingly lukewarm response. Meanwhile, I’d been writing LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE. When I queried it, the responses started off unimpressive. Then I revised my letter, and entered Brenda Drake’s Pitch Madness with a great pitch that one of my CP’s helped me write (and by that, I mean she wrote it for me). That contest ended up garnering me two offers of agent representation.

Still, as we know, the journey doesn’t end there. LYM was on sub for a year, and came very close to selling twice. It wasn’t until my editor moved houses and came back for my manuscript like some kind of blond, bespectacled knight in shining armor that it finally found a home at Simon Pulse. I talk more about it here:

What is the best piece of writing advice you NEVER followed?

Because I’m always bemoaning what a slow drafter I am, a lot of people have told me I should try NaNo. I know they’re thinking it would be a great way to challenge myself to write faster, but there’s no way I can write the 2K-ish words a day required to “win.” I’d be setting myself up for failure and disappointment. So, for my own sanity, I’ve learned to be okay with my pokeyness and ignore Twitter in November. Mostly. 

What is your favorite genre to write? Why?

I’m all about Young Adult Contemporary romance. Being a teenager is magical and miserable and wonderful and awful, all at the same time. Everything is a big deal. The friendships and relationships you form (and sometimes lose) leave lasting marks. I love capturing that in a story.

Tell us about LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE!

LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE is the story of Kelsey and David, who become friends the summer before their freshman year. The story alternates between events in the past that led to their friendship eventually falling apart, and the unexpected way they come together again in the present – as more than friends, even though they both try to fight it. Here’s the official blurb:

Is there anything that electric chemistry can’t overcome? The past may be gone, but love has a way of holding on in this romantic debut novel told in alternating Before and After chapters.

The summer before freshman year, Kelsey and David became inseparable best friends—until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke and everything around her crumbled, including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decide to move away, she can’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. But David’s not quite ready to be left.

Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town. Old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never let him go. And maybe she never wants to…

The Random Questions:

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate, without question, always.

Dinos or dragons

For my son, dinos. For me… fairies and unicorns, please?

What psychic power would you want?

I used to wish for the ability to read people’s minds. But the older I get, the more I think there are some things I’m just better off not knowing.

Favorite Disney Character?

Maleficent. She scared the pants off me as a kid, but now I totally respect her for it.

Dream Vacation?

I NEED to go to Italy. It’s been on my Bucket List since I found out what Bucket List was.

Tomatoes: Fruit or veggie?

I’m totally going with veggie because I just can’t fathom that they’re related to watermelon or strawberries.

Morning person or night owl?

I am totally useless before 8 a.m. It’s highly inadvisable to speak to me before that hour.

Favorite Book Ever?

No way can I pick just one! But see question #6 for some of my top contenders!

Favorite Movie Ever?

I have four: Gone With the Wind, The Sandlot, Grease, and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. No, I’m not kidding about that last one. It’s like it was tailored to my sense of humor.

Music Earworm of the Moment?

Style by Taylor Swift. I can’t get in my car without hearing it. Which is fine, because I love her.


About the Author


Author of LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE (Simon Pulse, 2015) Respecter of the Fluff. Lover of love. I am represented by John M. Cusick at Greenhouse Literary.

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