I had the privilege of interviewing author Gina Ciocca about her new book, ‘Busted’! It was just released today, so you can run out to your local bookstore and purchase a copy! (Or click on one of the links at the end of this interview to purchase your copy from an online retailer!)
If you’re interested in reading a spoiler free review, you can read my ARC review here!)
Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.
And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation―and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…
COURTNEY: What inspired you to write contemporary young adult fiction?
GINA CIOCCA: Contemporary YA is my favorite thing to read, so I guess it makes sense that it’s also my favorite thing to write. I’m way more comfortable writing about a world where I’ve actually lived, and can tweak details to fit the story, rather than having to build an entire setting that only exists in my head.
COURT: Which character changed the most from the first draft to the final copy of ‘Busted?’
GINA: Probably Charlie, Marisa’s best friend. In the original draft, most of what happens to Charlie actually happened to her younger sister, Brianne. My agent was the one who pointed out that there was really no need for them to be two separate characters, and I agreed. So Brianne got the ax, and her story line was rolled up into Charlie’s character.
COURT: What inspired ‘Busted’, and how long did it take for you to write the first draft?
GINA: When my debut, LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE was on sub and not selling, a lot of the feedback revolved around the “quiet” nature of the plot. Editors wanted something with a bigger hook, a bolder premise. While driving to work one morning, I heard the hosts of the radio show I used to listen to talking about a woman who had hired an investigator to tail her possibly-cheating boyfriend, only to have the boyfriend and the private investigator fall for each other. The wheels in my head started turning immediately. I knew if I could find a way to put a YA spin on a story like that, no one would ever call that concept “quiet.” Unfortunately, getting the draft written was a LONG process. Lots of interruptions and setbacks meant almost two years passed between writing the first line, and writing “The End.”
COURT: Apart from the superman references that are included in each of your books, are there any other links between them? (Locations, characters, etc. throughout LYM, Busted, and AKITD)
GINA: LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE and A KISS IN THE DARK both alternate between the past and present, and both take place in the northeast. All three books have 17-year-old female protagonists, but other than that, they’re separate stories, settings, and characters. If there are any other ties between them… they’re still buried in my subconscious somewhere!
COURT: If ‘Busted’ were to be adapted into a movie, who would be your fan casts for Marisa and TJ? (I know your cast for Kendall would be Dove Cameron!)
Here’s my ideal fancast!
Fun fact: TJ’s character was inspired by a real person who started out making leather jewelry in his parents’ barn, just like TJ. Of course, TJ is his own person in in my head. If I had to fan cast him, I would swoon—uh, choose – Dylan O’Brien.
As for Marisa, I’ve never really had a clear picture of her in my head. So it was kind of fitting that her face is hidden by her camera on the book’s cover. But if I had to pick, I could easily see Sofia Carson making the perfect Marisa Palmera, Private Eye.
COURT: What was your favorite scene to write? What scene were you most excited to have your readers read?
GINA: My favorite scenes in this book are the ones where Marisa realizes she’s thinking about TJ in ways that she really shouldn’t, but the scene where she ends up at his barn on a freezing cold morning in her pajamas remains my top pick. It was one of the first scenes I ever wrote for this story, and I love the turn that it takes. I can’t say much else without being spoilery!
COURT: Since I know that in this book you drew from some of you personal experiences and inserted events that have happened to you…has anyone ever noticed that they’ve made an appearance in your book?
GINA: I don’t really have any characters who are all-out representations of people I know, but there are absolutely similarities. My husband has definitely noticed! TJ wears a “Paul Bunyan coat,” which is what I used to call the black-and-red plaid jacket that my husband wore when we’d cut down our Christmas tree – at Maple Row Tree Farm, the inspiration for Maple Acres. And my mom had a good laugh at the mention of the tissues in Kelsey’s coat pocket in LAST YEAR’S MISTAKE, because that was definitely a nod to the travel packs of Kleenex that my mom made my sister and I carry everywhere.
COURT: If your characters had social media, what would they use the most? (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)
GINA: I don’t see Kelsey being very into social media, but Marisa and Macy would definitely be Instagram and Snapchat girls!
HUGE thanks to Gina for allowing me to conduct this interview!!
Connect with the author! You can follow Gina on twitter at @gmc511, and on Instagram at @gmciocca!
Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood. Gina can also be found online at writersblog-gina.blogspot.com, on Instagram as gmciocca, and Twitter as gmc511.
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