Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored a nonfiction book: Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy (Turner Publishing) consists of The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award; Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist; In America, Book #3, a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
Her latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance and a bestseller in Australia and the UK, (Prairie Rose Publications) is a semifinalist for the Laramie Book Awards.
Time to chat with Nina!
What is your latest book?
The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, published by Prairie rose Publications. It’s a Western/Romance set in New Mexico in the late 1870s. I’m super delighted to say it just received BESTSELLER status on Amazon Australia and hit # 1 in the UK in the category of Native American.
What are the greatest challenges in writing short stories?
Many people believe that poetry is the most difficult genre to write in, but for me, short stories are the most challenging. I write them, have written them, and probably will write some more, but it’s the compression that’s difficult. I realize there’s a great deal of compression in writing poems, however, poetry has always come easily to me. I have five traditionally published collections with small, independent publishers, and two poetry chapbooks that I keep wanting to put together with new poems to form a New & Selected Collection—but I’m way too involved in writing prose and fiction.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?
Historical fiction chose me. I think about the past and have done so since childhood. I always wondered how it was to live in those bygone times, that former particular era, the long-ago. I also love reading all types of historical fiction—whether it be mystery, mayhem, murder, biography, or romance!
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I believe it’s a little of both, but when I do a major edit or rewrite, I print out the manuscript and read it out loud with a pencil in my hand to correct, add, delete, and transform.
How many unwritten books are in your head? How do you decide which ones come to life now and which ones stay on the back burner?
Actually, only two. I don’t know which one I’ll draft next, but I have a beginning for one of them already written, of course that might change—beginnings usually do. This would be my first attempt at a biographical novel, based on my Aunt Lina, who passed away last year at 104 in Palermo , Sicily. She lived through WWII, and I find her life story fascinating.
The other novel I think I’d like to write is about my characters Darby and Cayo from my novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
I usually have a working title—sometimes I will change the title at the end of a work to something more fitting. However, I never know the ending to a novel or a short story. I follow the characters around and the story grows organically from the plot, the character’s actions, desires, motivations, and from the causes and effects of their deeds.
What else have you written?
I’ve written the three novels of the historical Wayfarer Trilogy:
The Secret Language of Women, set in China during the Boxer Rebellion.
Lemon Blossoms, set in Sicily during the late 1800s
In America, set in New York during the Great Depression.
Five collections of poetry:
She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding
Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows
A collection of short stories:
The Other Side of the Gate
A nonfiction collaborative book on Writing:
Writing in a Changing World
Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?
That’s a three-part question. I like these compound questions—they make you think! No, I don’t dread writing a synopsis. I don’t think it’s inherently evil thing to do, but it certainly isn’t always easy. Why? Because it makes you focus on the narrative and be concise. You have to think about the plot and, at this point, you have to know the ending to the story. You have to consider plot points and reversals and make sure to follow through with these if these techniques are used in the novel.
In writing a novel synopsis there’s no place for subplot or minor characters. The synopsis compels you to concentrate on the main characters and what they’re involved in doing: what they risk, their actions, motivations, causes and effects.
This information also must be single-spaced to fit onto one page. Therefore, it has to be compact. An agent or editor doesn’t want to see extraneous material at first glance. Perhaps later they may ask for something more elaborate.
I’m writing one now for my new WIP set in Soviet Russia.
How would you define your style of writing?
I write lyrical prose because I’m a poet and I love language. For me, cutting and tightening are the things I have to consider when I’m editing and auto-critiquing my own prose. It’s sometimes difficult but necessary to “kill your darlings” but I think that’s where this expression comes in handy. I also use many foreign words and expressions in my prose—and while this makes it all the mover convincing, you have to make sure these are understood in the dialogue or exposition. For my new WIP, I’ve decided that since Russian is not a language I speak to write a Glossary!
What’s your all time favorite film?
I don’t have ONE favorite movie. That’s not how my brain works. I’m a movie buff and have several I love and would watch again in a heartbeat. These are the films:
The Young Philadelphians, The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Stalag 17, Love with a Proper Stranger, Marjorie Morningstar, Picnic, Dances with Wolves, Shawshank Redemption, All the Pretty Horses, Gone with the Wind (I’ve seen it at least thirteen times!), The Godfather — all three!
The same with books–how can you pick just one? It’s impossible. Here are some of my favorites: Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Little Women, East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Lonesome Dove, The Idiot, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, Wuthering Heights, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Lolita, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and All the Pretty Horses.
Thank you, Lisette. I’m grateful for every opportunity to talk about a subject that I love—writing—and to showcase my work.
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