Today’s spotlight captured author Gina Azzi sneaking another bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream from freezer. If mint chocolate chip leads to young adult romance, one wonders what a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s “Karamel Sutra” would bring to the table! Without further ado, here’s…Gina!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi everyone! My name is Gina Azzi and I’ve been self-publishing for a little over a year now. So far, I’ve written three books – one Young Adult and two New Adult. I’ve always been a bookworm – losing myself in stories since I first learned to read. As I grew older, that love spilled over into writing. After several years of living abroad, I’m happy to be back in North America. A Jersey girl at heart, I now live in Canada with my husband and daughter. Mint chocolate chip ice cream is my jam, I love the smell of coffee first thing in the morning, and my heart is almost always in a state of wanderlust.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
I’ve been creating characters and dreaming up storylines since I was a kid! While living in New York, I took my first writing class and enjoyed it so much that I continued with online writing classes when I moved abroad. When I moved to Dubai at the beginning of 2015, I found out I was pregnant! It seemed like a fantastic time to really pursue writing so I gave self-publishing a try, and I haven’t looked back.
Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
I love reading everything – from Jane Austen to motorcycle club romances to current events. Roald Dahl is my favorite author from childhood – I can’t wait to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my little girl. EE Cummings is my favorite poet – I love the way he uses the space on a page – as well as plays with the syntax and structure – to enhance his work. And of course, Harry Potter by JK Rowling changed my life – all for the better!
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
Kiss Me Goodnight in Rome is the second book in The Senior Semester Series. The series is about four best friends in college about to begin their senior year. For the fall semester, each girl is having her own adventure – a study abroad, an internship, staying on campus, etc. Each book in the series follows the adventure – and love interest! – of one girl. Kiss Me Goodnight in Rome is about Mia’s study abroad to Italy where she meets hot Italian waiter, Lorenzo, experiences love for the first time, and faces some of her own insecurities which allow her to grow emotionally.
How is the title significant?
Mia’s romance with Lorenzo begins to blossom after a goodnight kiss in Rome…
Where did inspiration for this come from?
The storylines for the Senior Semester Series draw loosely from my own college experiences. I studied abroad for two summers in Rome, Italy and fell head over heels in love with the city, the people, and culture. I’m still convinced colors are brighter in Rome.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
Mia and Lorenzo are the two main characters in KMGIR. Mia is a sweetheart – she is smart, shy, disciplined, and very focused. A former ballerina, Mia understands the meaning of commitment and dedication. Her study abroad allows her the opportunity to really live in the moment for the first time ever – and it’s awesome when she finally starts to relax, enjoy, and grow as a person.
Lorenzo is pretty entitled and arrogant. Having grown up wealthy and privileged, he is frustrated to be working at his family’s restaurant in the wake of his father’s death. He is used to getting his way – especially with women – and finds Mia’s sweetness refreshing. While getting to know Mia and learning more about his family’s business, Lorenzo matures and we get to see a major shift in his priorities.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
I think the series is for a college audience – as well as for anyone who recalls their own first loves, study abroad adventures, and amazing college friendships fondly!
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
Each book in the series deals with themes that I think are important – and relevant – among college-aged people. I don’t want to give all the specifics away but the characters in the series struggle with grief and the loss of a loved one, body image issues, illness, sexual assault, divorce, etc. I hope the challenges that the characters face in the books – and the manner by which they overcome certain challenges – are relatable and beneficial to readers. While I would like the books to be entertaining and enjoyable for readers, I would also like to touch on important age-related issues that deserve dialogue and awareness.
What is your writing process like?
It’s a blend – I start with a general outline and then I sit down and write! Sometimes, I write the ending first and then figure out how the characters arrive at that conclusion.
How do you go about editing your story?
I have a wonderful editor who offers invaluable feedback.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
I learned about my cover artist in the acknowledgement pages of a book I was reading! I’ve worked with her for all three of my book covers and think she is amazing at her craft! She also formats my books.
How did you go about getting published?
I went the self-publishing route.
What was your self-publishing experience like?
Awesome! I’ve truly enjoyed the people I’ve met through self-publishing – I think the community of indie authors is so supportive, genuine, and helpful that the experience has been incredibly positive. I never think of writing as a job but feel so grateful that this is what I get to spend my day doing!
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I think the pros are definitely the super cool people I’ve met, having full control over the entire creative process, and the timeliness of writing a book and then seeing it in print. The cons are having to sort out the marketing and branding part on my own – although this has also been a great learning experience!
What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
The best surprise I’ve received is when people actually email me about a book – or character – that they connected with. It’s seriously awesome.
How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
I’ve used KDP Select so that I can utilize the Kindle advertising as well as email services. The promotion part is something I am really working on and hope to improve over the following year.
Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before? Good or bad?
I wish I had a clear marketing and branding strategy from the start – this is something I am now trying to catch up with and implement a year later.
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Do it! Whether you love it and keep self-publishing or decide to never self-publish again, you will learn a ton!
What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
I plan to finish The Senior Semester Series in 2017. Then, we’ll see what comes next. Please stay tuned!
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
I’d love to hear from you! Please reach out to me at any of the following!
GoodReads: Gina Azzi
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