Monday, January 19, 2009

Belated Bookshelf: Hey There to Tina Ferraro!

Tina Ferraro believes in the adage that it is never too late to have a happy childhood. She, in fact, had a very happy one, living in Westchester County, New York, with her parents, her brother, and several cats. She was an avid bookworm, earned a shelf full of medals for competitive swimming, and would sometimes play Barbies for days on end. It was her teen years that she feels she failed to make the most of--probably because she was too busy daydreaming of the exciting life she wished she had.

All these years later, as a wife of two decades and a mother of three teens, she is giving herself that happy teenage experience by writing stories about girls who not only dream big--but make their dreams come true.
Some of Tina’s favorite things include reading, drinking lattes, hanging with her family, watching the TV shows "The Office" and “Lost,” and chatting with her readers through her website,

INN: I first found your books when Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress came out because I was so intrigued-- what can you do with an unworn prom dress? Where did you find the idea for your debut novel?

TF: I came upon a nonfiction book called something like 101 Things To Do With a Bridesmaid Dress. And it started my mind racing...what if it was a prom dress? Because...because...the guy dumped her just days before the prom? And instead of 101 things, what if it was ten...

And I was off and running. I then took the idea to my on-line brainstorming group (which is composed of about 10 authors) and asked for input. I got great feedback, including the idea to go with “Top Ten” instead of just “Ten.” When I pitched it to my agent, she told me to drop what I was working on and start writing it right away!
INN: If Parker (protagonist of the upcoming The ABCs of Kissing Boys) had a New Year's Resolution, what would it be?

TF: Interesting question! Since the book takes place in August/September, I’d like to answer two ways, the New Years before and after. Before: to cut out the junk food and keep in tip-top shape for soccer season. After: to pay attention to the people in her life, and remember that not everyone is as they seem.

INN: How did you get published?

TF: Well, I started selling short stories back in college, but it took many years of reading, writing, networking, taking on-line classes and attending conferences to get to the point where I understood “my voice” and the situations that brings it to its fullest potential. That is in teen “dramedy” situations, where humor and internal struggle go hand-in-hand. When I found my niche, I found my agent, and the first sale happened relatively quickly.

INN: Did your own experiences in high school affect the way you write about teenagers now? What are some differences and similarities?

TF: Absolutely! I was a major people watcher and daydreamer in high school, spent hours creating exciting scenarios that I really, really wanted to happen. (In most cases, they never did, however.) So much of what I write today is based on those types of daydreams--larger-than-life drama. I stay current through my kids who keep me updated on the electronics and when to use IM, TM and what-not. And let me know when the phrases I use are horribly out-of-date!

INN: What are you most excited about with the release of ABCs?

TF: Well, modestly, I think I’m going to get good reactions from readers. ABC’s is probably my funniest book, and I had a great time researching and listing different kinds of kisses that readers can try out on guys (or, if they’re more like I was, simply daydream about trying out).
And I have to say, I put in several mentions of something called a Steam Kiss, which I did not research, so when my characters tried it, (obviously) they couldn’t get it to work. I’m looking for someone to try it for real and report back to me!

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

TF: Yes. It’s important to ask others (friends, teachers, other writers) for feedback on your writing. But sometimes that feedback conflicts with what you’re striving for, or what your gut tells you is right. In this case, I employ what I call my Rule of Three. The first time I hear criticism that I don’t agree with (say, someone says a scene is too slow), I ignore it. The second time, I seriously consider it. The third time, I throw up my hands and make the change. So far, this has worked for me.
Thank you so much, Tina!
Visit her website at and watch for her blog on our Bookshelf Authors' Blogroll.

1 comment:

nadine said...

Great interview. Parker's Before New Years Resolution sounds a little like mine. Track starts soon and I need all the practice I can get.