1. What inspired you to write The Secret Language of Women?
As a little girl I heard my Grandpa talk about China and how exotic it was. I saw a handsome picture of him in his sailor’s uniform. Since then, I’ve always wanted to travel to Asia, especially China, and I’m blessed because I’ve been to visit there several times. When I began writing fiction, I wanted to set a novel in China during the Boxer Rebellion, the war my grandfather fought in as a sailor in the Italian Navy. I have the gift of a vivid imagination—and although the novel is loosely based on the fact that my grandfather talked about the Rebellion and mysterious China, the novel is a fiction of my own imagining.
2. What does your typical writing day look like?
When I’m writing and working on a project, there are no set hours—basically I dream, eat, sleep, and think of nothing else but the novel—a bit obsessive, I realize. A friend of mine used to say, “You’re in the writing zone!” I can get up early in the morning and work all day, or do nothing for an entire day but think, and then stay up late, writing. Other times, I go to bed and wake up in the middle of the night with ideas of important details I want to include in the work, so I go to the computer and write till dawn.
3. Do you have a favorite book you have written?
Each book is a miracle. The first of the trilogy, The Secret Language of Women, I worked on for nine years. The second novel, Lemon Blossoms was actually written first—this book took me close to eight years to finish, and has a great many family stories converted into fiction. In America, the third book of the Wayfarer Trilogy, also has some stolen family history. However, this last novel, which I prize as a little gem, took me only one year to write—I actually never believed it was possible to write a novel in only one year! However, I was under contract with Turner Publishing and had to get it written and fast! Quite a thrill, I must say.
4. What advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?
Read. Read. Read everything from the classics to cereal boxes! Write! In the beginning, I think it’s important to write every day. I did this up until just recently. I wrote a great deal of poetry and short stories before I ventured into novel-writing. To me, being a novelist was like reaching out for the brass ring on a carousel! You have to lean far out of your comfort zone and off the horse in order to grasp it.
5. Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
Yes. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I like Twitter far better than Facebook because you can interact so much more, and I love interacting with readers, writers, publishers and agents! I tweet about everything. I’m blessed to married to a world traveler and since I travel a great deal, I tweet about things I see and do. I can’t write while I’m traveling, but I do take notes.
6. How do you handle literary criticism?
Not everyone can love your writing or the genre you write in, but I know if I’m getting all 5 and 4 star reviews, and someone gives me a fluky 2 stars, it’s not because I failed as a writer, but the reader’s expectations were not met. Their perspective was either skewed by advertising or something else that led them to buy the book. I try to deliver on the promise of what the reader will get in the premises of my novels.
I enjoy handing over a completed manuscript to friends and readers for critique—I don’t always take all the suggestions, and I cast away comments that don’t resonate with me. However, a second set of eyes on a manuscript can be most rewarding. My last manuscript was read by a male history teacher, and I received some wonderful feedback.
I think this question also bears including and mentioning rejections. When I submit a piece, and it’s not accepted, I usually send it out to someone else—it’s all so subjective. What one editor doesn’t like, another will.
7. Please describe your writing space?
It took me years to carve out a space all my own. I can honestly say that I’ve only had an office/library since 2009. I guess my husband finally understood that I wasn’t going to quit writing despite numerous rejections—all part of the process of becoming a writer.
I can write poetry anywhere—in a diner, on a bus, on a paper napkin, a grocery bill—and then I type it into a file. This year it’s Poetry 2018. For fiction, I only write on a computer unless I’m revising, which I do by hand with a sharp pencil and good eraser. I make all written corrections and then transfer them to the computer.
8. Who is your own favorite author? Dead or alive?
I love the Russians, and there are too many American, British, and Italian authors to name, both living and dead, whom I admire for one reason or another. I think you fall in love with a particular novel, so you read everything you can get your hands on by that author—and what you discover is that not all of his/her writing thrills you.
Hard pressed, I’d have to name the titles of the novels that have captivated me and I love best, rather than a single author. (This could go on for several pages, as my tastes are eclectic, but I’ll keep it short with the first ones that come to mind.) Here are some of my favorite novels: Anna Karenina, Dr. Zhivago, All the Pretty Horses, The Idiot, Crime and Punishment, Lonesome Dove, Gone with the Wind, Little Women, The Shipping News, Love Warps the Mind a Little, Moby Dick, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Betrothed, Forever, The Given Day, Cold Mountain, Thirteen Moons, Bound.
9. What is the most helpful thing to you in this industry?
I’d have to say small, independent publishers.
10. If you had to describe yourself in 3 words…what would they be?
Generous. Tenacious. Personable.
My up-coming novel, a Western Historical Romance, will be released in 2019 from a new publisher. I’ve titled it: The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley—I’ll be crushed if the publisher wants to change the title! I’m pleased to say, I think I broke quite a few rules with this one!
Currently, my WIP is a novel set in Russia—Leningrad 1956, and the working title is: Dark Eyes. It’s historical, but extremely challenging as I’ve never written anything like this before.
Nina Romano earned a B. S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University, a B. A. in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years where many of her poems and stories are set. Romano has taught English and Literature as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University, and has interned for poets Marie Howe, Denise Duhamel, and C. K. Williams at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.
Romano has facilitated poetry and creative writing workshops at the Ft. Lauderdale Main Library, the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Bridle Path Press Baltimore, Lopez Island Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Rosemary Beach Writers Conference, the Outreach Program of Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and Summit County Library.
Her short fiction, memoir, and poetry appear in numerous literary journals and magazines.
Romano has presented several times at the Miami Book Fair International with her fiction and also with her poetry collections which include: Cooking Lessons from Rock Press, submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, Coffeehouse Meditations from Kitsune Books, She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding from Bridle Path Press, Faraway Confections, from Aldrich Press, and Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows from Red Dashboard, LLC. She has also had two poetry chapbooks published: Prayer in a Summer of Grace and Time’s Mirrored Illusion, both from Flutter Press, and a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, from Bridle Path Press.
She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She has co-authored Writing in a Changing World.
Romano has published the Wayfarer Trilogy with Turner Publishing. All three of the historical novels of the series were finalists in book contest awards, and Book 1, The Secret Language of Women, set in China, won the Independent Publisher 2016 IPPY Gold Medal. The other two novels are: Lemon Blossoms, set in Sicily, and In America, set in New York.
A new novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance will be released in 2019.
A short story, “A Risky Christmas Affair” has recently been released as an e-book and will also be released as an audiobook.
“Dreaming of a Christmas Kiss,” another short story, has been released as an e-book and an audiobook, and will also be included in a Christmas anthology, along with two new poems.
Connect With The Author:
Nina Romano’s Interview on PBS