Hi, Dana! Thank you for joining us today! How long have you been writing? What inspired your quest to become a writer? I’ve been seriously writing for almost seven years. Before that, I was more of a dreamer. I was enamored with the idea of being an author. I’ve dabbled in writing since I was a preteen and I had this romanticized “Anne Shirley” type notion of what writing was supposed to be like. But I didn’t have a good reason for why I wanted to write. Therefore, if it got too hard, which it inevitably does, I just didn’t do it. I’d give up. I never thought it was possible to actually become a published writer, because it just seemed too doggone hard. But it wasn’t until I became a youth group leader that I figured out why I wanted to write— to encourage, comfort, and bring light into hurting girls’ lives. Once I figured out why I wanted to write, nothing was going to stop me. It didn’t matter how hard making it in publishing was, I wasn’t going to quit because I had a reason not to quit.
Tell us a little bit about Abby’s Letters! Abby’s Letters is a story about sisters, first love, and forgiveness. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl who fakes her mom’s life in order to keep her little sister from going into foster care. Along the way she discovers things about herself, her cute next door neighbor, and most importantly her dead mother that changes the way she looks at life forever.
What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite? My favorite thing about writing is creating worlds in which I have total control. And yes, I realize that makes me sound like I have bit of a god complex. Ever since I was little I’d change the outcome of scenes in books or TV shows in my imagination. I’d rework them to how I wanted it to go. To this day I still fall asleep at night reworking scenes from novels and TV shows. I love creating worlds in my imagination. A world where people, animals, aliens or the occasional zombie obeys my every command.
As for my least favorite thing, marketing. Enough said.
What’s the greatest praise you’ve received about your writing so far? The greatest praise I’ve received so far is when people tell me that Abby’s Letters made them cry but they loved it. I think it’s a wonderful compliment that readers can get so involved with your characters that they cry with them.
Describe your writing style in three words. Don’t hold back.
Your most creative ideas come when. . . I’m driving. Or in the shower. Either way it’s very difficult to write them down!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? Figure out why you want to write. Once you have your “why” figured out, keep coming back to that when things get tough. And keep writing.
The fictional character who inspires you most is. . . The fictional character who inspires me most is Hadassah from A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. She is unwavering in her faith, forgiveness, and courage.
When you aren’t writing, you enjoy. . .
Drinking coffee with my husband on our deck.
Running (okay, more like painfully slow jogging) while listening to music.
Laughing at clean comedy clips on YouTube.
Watching TV shows where people run from lumbering zombies and wondering how the zombies took over in first place since they are slow and missing limbs. Seriously, even I can run faster than a zombie.
Can you give us a teaser about your work in progress? I’m currently editing the second book in the Abby’s Letters series and writing the first draft of the third book. And let’s just say there is a major plot twist in the very first chapter of the second book. That’s all I can divulge.
Dana Romanin has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl pretending to be Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables). She used to write under a forsythia bush, but now she writes in a messy office that she shares with her sewing obsessed daughter.
Dana’s short story, The Silence of Sand, was chosen for adaptation into a short video performed by the Blue Man Group. Dana has also published short fiction for teens in Encounter—The Magazine and had a short story published in a Family Fiction anthology, The Story 2014. Her first novel, Abby’s Letters, released June 20, 2017.
She lives nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her wonderful husband, three beautiful kids, and a lot of persnickety pets.
Abby’s Letters Back Cover Copy:
For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months, then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.
Endorsements for Abby’s Letters:
“Heart-wrenching, beautiful, and complex, Abby’s Letters is an exquisitely written treatise on mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness, and love. Romanin skillfully tells this fragile family’s story with tenderness and grace, highlighting the interplay of a young woman’s painful past, uncertain future, and unflinching sisterly devotion. Each moment in this novel is a treasure shaped by masterful prose and lyrical storytelling. Do not miss this book. This is a story that should be read by anyone who is a mother or who loves one.”
–Megan Whitson Lee, author of Suburban Dangers and the award-winning novel, Captives.
“Dana Romanin debuts on the YA scene with a heartfelt story of holding on, letting go, and growing up. I was immediately invested in the characters and was hooked from the beginning until the very end. Romanin has a fresh, authentic voice that delivers for YA readers of any age.”
–Nicole Quigley, award-winning author of Like Moonlight at Low Tide
“Dana Romanin’s debut novel is a poignant tale of love and lives lost, and one girl’s attempt to keep what’s left of her family together, despite all the odds. A wonderful and thought-provoking read.”
–Diana Sharples, author of Running Lean.
Excerpt from Abby’s Letters:
Clark exhaled. “Anything for you, Janie.”
Oh. He had to pull out the nickname. It crushed her. Asking Clark to lie for her—she had never asked so much of him. It went against everything he believed in. She didn’t believe in all that Christian stuff, but he did. Keeping this secret would mean disrespecting his mother. It meant he would have to go against his beliefs.
Disrespect his God.
But his God wasn’t there for her, and He certainly wasn’t going to save Abby from foster care.
Jane would, though.
She entwined her fingers with his. He was so different than the little boy who’d played hide-and-seek with her on warm summer nights, back when her world was filled with her father’s laughter and her mother’s smiles. Now his muscle twitched in his strong jawline. What happened to the freckle-faced boy she had played G.I. Joe and Transformers with? He even had stubble.
“You’re the only one allowed to call me that.”
“And you’re the only one allowed to call me Janie.”
“This is too much. You can’t do this alone.” His thumb caressed her hand.
“I’m not. I have you.”
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