by Amna Gillani, Age 14, Pakistan
I recently got the honour of interviewing author Gina Damico. As the author of the Croak trilogy, she writes grim books with “wildly improbable bloodshed.” Having worked in several different fields, she has a lot of experience of the turbulent journey of being a writer. From the idea behind her books to her inspirations, she was kind enough to answer all my questions with detail. With some thoughtful insight on how she created her characters, she has some solid advice for her readers.
About Gina Damico
I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where I was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked my interest in wildly improbably bloodshed. I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker, and breadmonger. I live in Boston with my husband, two cats, and a closet full of black hoodies
Can you tell us about your books and who you wrote them for?
I am the author of the Croak trilogy–Croak, Scorch, and Rogue–which are about a teenage girl who finds out that her uncle is a grim reaper, and that it’s her turn to learn the family business. I don’t know that I wrote them for a specific audience but rather wrote them in the style and voice that I think is fun to write–lots of snark, plenty of excitement, and even some heartbreak along the way. I guess I just knew that there would be an audience out there for some funny, dark, deathly adventures.
YA is a very popular genre. Did you grow up reading YA?
I read all kinds of things growing up–some books primarily targeted towards teens, but also plenty of classics and tons of Kurt Vonnegut. And I think YA is in a wonderful state at the moment. There’s something for everyone, and there are so many talented authors out there. It’s really a very exciting time to be writing.
Which character do you connect most with? Do you base your characters on real people?
I suppose I connect most to Lex. She’s sarcastic and spunky, and I like to think of her as a younger, much braver version of myself. Unlike Lex, however, I don’t go around punching people. As for inspiration for my characters, I sort of pick and choose from all sorts of places. I take a little bits from people that I know, then mix them in with other fictional characters, celebrities, you name it. They all come together in a delicious character stew. Mmmm. Stew.
What do your younger readers think about your ideas about the afterlife?
One thing that I’ve really enjoyed is hearing from my readers about how my books have affected their view of the afterlife–or that it got them even thinking about it at all. I didn’t set out to prompt this sort of discussion–and I don’t even know if I believe in it myself– but it’s such a wide, open unknown that it’s fun to hear about what other people envision.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young writers?
Let other people read your work. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, putting your words out there for others to judge, but in the end, hearing other people’s feedback is an absolutely necessary part of writing. Just bite the bullet, throw some pages at them, and run! Just make sure you come back to listen to what they have to say.
Amna Gillani is a 14 year old writer from Pakistan who tries to exploit every writing opportunity she can. You can see her blog here.