The YA Misfits are hosting a Halloween bloghop and I am soooo excited to host the fabulous Gina Ciocca AKA @GMC511. Not only is Gina an awesome YA contemporary romance writer represented by the awesome John Cusick, but also founder of Respect The Fluff. So without further adieu...
VALERIE: Tell us a little about how you were signed with John Cusick. Were you signed from the slushpile or a contest or conference?
GINA: First, thank you for hosting me Valerie! I wound up with John through a combination of contest and slushpile. I entered my contemporary romance, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE, in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Madness contest, and he bid on my entry, but another agent ultimately “won” the manuscript. I queried John and referenced the contest, and he requested the manuscript the next day. Three weeks later, he and another Pitch Madness agent offered rep on it. After talking to both of them, I knew I wanted to work with John.
VALERIE: Does it feel different writing as an agented writer than it did before when you weren't signed?
GINA: Yes! I may be imagining it (probably not), but I feel like I’m under a lot more pressure. Not just to write, which is terrifying in itself because I’m a terribly slow drafter and have to work around my full-time job, but to outdo myself with each new idea.
VALERIE: You are a huge advocate for Respect The Fluff. Can you tell me a bit about what that is and how you started it?
GINA: Respect the Fluff blossomed from mine and some of my fellow Misfits total indignation over comments rooted in Romance Hateration. And yes, I made that name up. People tend to dismiss romance as having no intellectual value, or as somehow less challenging to write, but I disagree. Romance is about capturing and conjuring emotion, and it takes a lot of skill to do that right. Not to mention there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading or writing a book just because it makes you feel good. Which is why we rock our Respect The Fluff t-shirts with pride!
VALERIE: Since you just wrote a YA psychological thriller, which strayed from your contemporary romance roots. Were there any real differences between the two genres? Was it more challenging to write something out of your comfort zone?
GINA: SHADOW PARK was definitely a challenge compared to LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE. SP started off as a something totally different and I morphed it into a psychological thriller. I’d never written one before, and I was terrified that my greenness would be evident on every page. When it came down to it, though, SP is still about a boy and a girl and the way their relationship develops – just with a few twists.
VALERIE: Now that you've written spooky and romance, do you have a favorite genre? Do you foresee yourself writing more if it?
GINA: I’m working on another contemporary romance right now, but I admit, I fell in love with writing psychological thrillers. The idea for another one hit me like a Mack truck the other day. I am SUPER excited to get started on it!
VALERIE: With Halloween upon us, what scares you the most?
GINA: Everything! LOL. No, really. I am a worrier. Writing-wise, my biggest fear is letting people down. I don’t want to just write books that sell, I want to write books that people fall in love with. I’m always afraid of falling short of my goals.
VALERIE: And of course, what type of candy are you passing out this year to Trick-or-Treaters? Or what are you dressing up as this year?
GINA: Confession: I have not bought a costume or a single bag of candy this year. With all this Hurricane Sandy hubbub, my procrastination might have worked in my favor! But my favorite candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut M & M’s. Yummy.
VALERIE: Aaand who is your favorite villain of all time?
GINA: My favorite literary villain is Severus Snape from Harry Potter – probably because there turned out to be a lot we didn’t know about him that cast a whole different light on his despicableness. I also love Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Everything from her voice to her cane to that creepy blackbird who did her bidding was morbid perfection.