Author Interview: Gina LoBiondo
Stephanie: Hi, Gina! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your book, “Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale”. Please tell me about your story.
Gina: Thank you so much, Stephanie, it was a real honour! Pegasus – A Dragon’s Tale is the heartwarming story of two young bear cubs that come across an unusual egg while out playing one day. They decide to take it home and it soon hatches into a baby dragon. All too soon, however, Pegasus has outgrown the cubs and their father, the King, makes a heartbreaking decision. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.
I wrote it originally as a short story with two human Princesses but when my god-son got married and became an instant father, I rewrote it using my new niece and nephew as the main characters. I had also gotten Kameela, who was 8 at the time, a Build-A-Bear and decided to turn the brother and sister characters into bears. That’s basically how the whole thing came about.
Stephanie: Is this your first children’s book or are there others?
Gina: This is actually my first published book. I’ve been writing since I was 13 (nearly 40 years) so I’ve written in a lot of different genres. I tried for years to get published traditionally but had no luck until I decided to self-publish. I now have two more children’s books in the works along with a Young-Adult novel which will be my own retelling of the Cinderella faerie tale. I’m just waiting on Stephanie Zuppo to put it all together and finish the illustrations. It will hopefully be out soon.
Stephanie: What is the appropriate age group for your story?
Gina: It’s a bit hard to decide, but I’d say ages 3 and up. Parents can begin reading it to the kids at that age and they begin to understand and at least enjoy the illustrations. On my eBay ad, I say from 3-103 because the oldest person to read this book was 103 and she couldn’t stop raving about it! She was a dear lady who lived in the same assisted living facility as my aunt and she became a great friend. Her name was Fanny.
Stephanie: Is there a message you want your readers to grasp?
Gina: The main theme or message of Pegasus I suppose would be the deep friendship of the three main characters. It’s a friendship that outlasts time, distance and species.
Stephanie: Your book cover is cute. Who designed it?
Thank you! My illustrator, Stephanie Zuppo, did all the artwork. The original version of Pegasus had the dragon and the bears on the front cover playing ball. Stephanie took that idea and redid it. She placed the prince bear half on the front and half on the back, the idea being that readers will have to turn the book over to see the rest of him and thereby lead them to the back cover with the book description. I think it’s a pretty ingenious idea.
Stephanie: How long did it take you to write Pegasus?
Gina: I wrote it so long ago, that to be honest, I don’t really remember! More than likely it was a couple of months as that’s about my average writing time.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Gina: I actually learned of them through one of my friends on Facebook who, I believe, won a B.R.A.G. Medallion as well.
Stephanie: What are the hardest things about writing?
Gina: For me, the hardest thing is having a quiet place to work. I normally do my typing at the kitchen table so there are always all sorts of interruptions i.e. the phone ringing, doing laundry, etc. Sometimes I wish I could have a soundproof booth!
Stephanie: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Gina: The first thing is to start with a good story idea and a strong desire to put it on paper. No matter what, don’t give up. I’m talking about the dreaded writer’s block, which I’ve just recently experienced. I got through it, though, and my book is back on track.
Born in 1960, author Gina LoBiondo grew up loving faerie tales. She began writing stories of her own when she was 13 and continues to do so today. After 16 years of trying unsuccessfully to break into the “traditional” publishing industry, the opportunity arose for her to self-publish; she began Nephthys Publications in November, 2008, as a way of doing just that. Her first foray into this exciting business is Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale, winner of 7 prestigious awards, with her next book — her own retelling of the Cinderella story — expected sometime in 2013. She is also planning a sequel to Pegasus for 2013 and another children’s book called Button Nose the Sad Little Bear. Check out her personal website at www.ginalobiondo.com as well as the illustrator’s site at www.stephaniezuppo.com.
Thank you, Gina!