Q&A with Gina Ciocca (Author of Last Year’s Mistake and Busted)

YA Books are Epic: Thank you for agreeing to do this with me!

Gina: My pleasure! Thanks for asking!

YA Books are Epic: What got you into reading?

Gina: I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. Books can be so many things – fun, heartfelt, introspective, a means of escape. Each one is a new experience, and I love that.

YA Books are Epic: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Gina: Second grade! My mother has a cassette tape recording (yes, I’m that old) of me saying that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. Writing has been a part of who I am for a very long time.

YA Books are Epic: How long did it take from starting to write Last Year’s Mistake to getting it published?

Gina: I started writing LYM at the end of 2010, and finished it in 2011. After having it critiqued and beta read, I polished it up and started querying agents. I got 2 offers of representation, and signed with John Cusick in 2012. The book went on sub to editors, and after about a year, we’d had at two VERY close calls, but it ultimately didn’t sell. I was disappointed, but I had an idea for another YA contemporary that John liked, and so I put LYM out of my mind (or tried to, anyway), and powered ahead on the new project. Just as I was finishing that manuscript (Valentine’s Day of 2014, to be exact), I got an e-mail from John saying that Sara Sargent, an editor who’d read and loved LYM when it had been subbed to her at Harper Collins, had moved to Simon Pulse, and wanted to give my book another shot at publication. Thirty-four days later, I had an offer for a two-book contract. And on June 9, 2015, almost five years after I started writing it, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE was published.

YA Books are Epic: How did you come up with the story and characters for Last Year’s Mistake?

Gina: There were lots of different factors that contributed to the way the story took form. I knew I wanted to write about two people who hadn’t been able to forget about each other, despite trying their hardest to make it seem like they had. I didn’t intend for Kelsey to have so much of me in her, but during edits, it became clear that she, at least in the “past” chapters, was echoing many of my experiences in high school – feeling like she didn’t fit in, dealing with being bullied, and losing friends. David was bits and pieces of different boys that I’ve known throughout my life. Once I decided that I was going to set the past and the present in two contrasting locations – Rhode Island and Connecticut – the story just kind of fell into place.

YA Books are Epic: Do you have any other stories that you’re currently working on?

Gina: Always! My next book is called BUSTED, and it’s the story I wrote when I thought LYM wasn’t going to sell. It comes out from Sourcebooks in January 2018, and then my next book with Pulse, A KISS IN THE DARK, releases in March 2018. I’m also drafting a new YA contemporary, and revising another that I wrote in 2013.

YA Books are Epic: Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

Gina: I tend to love funny, sarcastic voices when I read, and I think that probably comes through when I write. But I also love dark, twisty, and beautiful writing. Growing up, I read The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and anything by Christopher Pike. And then I was obsessed with V. C. Andrews’ novels. I think it’s only natural that sometimes our narrative voices echo the books that made the biggest impressions on us.

YA Books are Epic: Do you have any upcoming events that we can look forward to?

Gina: I don’t have any signings planned currently, but with two books coming out next year, I’m sure I’ll be popping up in a few different places.

YA Books are Epic: Thanks for doing this and I am looking forward to reading other stories from you!

Gina: Thank you so much for having me! 

Gina’s Links:

Last Year’s Mistake on Book Depository



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