For the next few weeks, my guests for “10 Questions” will be historical fiction authors. This genre is one of my favorites. Generally, a novel is considered historical if it takes place at least 50 years ago. Under the historical fiction “umbrella,” you’ll find a variety of subgenres, including multi-period epic/saga, romance, mystery, adventure, westerns, and even fantasy, time travel and alternate histories, as well as children’s and young adult. I hope you read along and enjoy these interviews. They should be fun—and interesting!
Today I welcome author and historian Gina Danna. She writes “historical fiction with romantic ties” set in different time periods and parts of the world, including Ancient Rome, Regency and the American Civil War.
Linda Covella: Gina, thank you so much for joining us today.
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Gina Danna: That’s a hard one to answer. I’ve read all my life and during my twenties, I read a ton of historical romance novels, so much that I ran out of selection at the local drug store! I also realized I knew the plot within the first few pages. Then, my muse nudged me, saying “you can write one of these, too.” I played with it but work and grad school interfered.
Years passed, until my son was old enough to go to college and he told me his step mother wanted to talk to me about doing a program to her RWA group, since she heard I was a Civil War reenactor.
Fast forward-I’d never heard of RWA and was intrigued there was a group of people who did this. So I started writing-especially with my son at school, I had a little more time. Of course, my tales are historic – I am a historian with my BA & MA in History and I’ve always been in love with the past. Now, that also means that I just don’t write a story that isn’t researched, because I want to read something that’ll make me put the book down and investigate is that true? So my historical romances have turned to historical fiction with romantic ties.
LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
GD: I write as often as I can and wherever I can sit with my computer! I work a full-time, rather time-consuming/involved job so I try to write on my breaks, which can be hard to impossible. But mostly I write at home, after work and on days off. I’ve plotted and I’ve outlined – both work. Its more plotting verses other because outlining consumes time and my muse usually won’t let me waste time since I have a limited writing opportunity.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
GD: As a historian, many things of the past intrigue me. Ancient Rome, Regency and the American Civil War in particular. I am a Sicilian-American so my pull to Rome is big but so is the Civil War. My mother’s family fought and died in it. I am also a Civil War reenactor/living historian. The War calls to me and my muse loves it!
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
GD: Probably the most entertaining was Caroline in The Wicked North, Book 1 of my Hearts Touched by Fire Civil War series. She was the heroine’s wicked sister, as it was. To write a devious, narrow-minded, self-centered character was invigorating, especially when my critique partners each, individually, wanted to drop her in a vat of boiling oil….think I made a mark on their conscious. LOL
LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
GD: Perhaps. Some of my emotions and reactions certainly. But I’ve never plotted to do that deliberately.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
GD: That is hard to define. For instance, the Civil War push the plot more, yet the characters are more driven by it, to find/define themselves, live/survive through the horrors, and love in a world in chaos. While we know how the War ended, they don’t, so that also helps to explain their character ARC.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
GD: Oh, yes!
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
GD: I think reading helps expand your horizons, teases with your muse and helps you refine your writing style, by giving you examples of great writing to scenarios you don’t want to fall for to grammar issues that you pray don’t happen in your writing!
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
GD: Right now, that’s hard to decide. I adore Kate Quinn and Meredith Duran, as well as Eileen Dryer and Bob Mayer. They write in deep plots and characters and will lead the reader down a path you think you know when wham! They twist the plot or the character and I often do a double read, thinking did they really do that????
LC: Anything new in the works?
GD: Yes, I am currently working on the 4th in the Civil War series and trying to quiet my muse which presented the plot for book 5! Yikes!!
LC: Well, I imagine your muse will win out. J Thanks again, Gina! It was a pleasure learning more about your writing.
A USAToday Bestselling author, Gina Danna was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has spent the better part of her life reading. History has always been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, always dreaming of writing one of her own. After years of writing historical academic papers to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, and then for museum programs and exhibits, she found the time to write her own historical romantic fiction novels.
Now, under the supervision of her dogs, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other lifelong dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.
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