Shootin’ the Breeze with Jenna Evans Welch

Hello Readers,

As a person with a bad case of wanderlust, I’m a sucker for almost any place that will take me to distant lands where exciting adventures await! So going into Love & Gelato, author Jenna Evans Welch’s debut novel which is set in beautiful Florence Italy, I knew I’d love it. But what I didn’t know was jus HOW much I was going to love it.

i immediately e-mailed author Jenna Evans Welch after closing the back cover of Love & Gelato. I knew I had to chat with eith Jenna Evans Welch and ash her all my burning questions.

Today, I’m happy to be hosting Jenna Evans Welch, and I’m overjoyed to share my interview with all of you, dear readers!

BookBandit (BB): Can you tell a little about yourself, and about your path as an author?
Jenna Evans Welch (JEW): I live in Salt Lake City with my husband, 3 year old son, and neurotic shih tzu, and along with publishing my first book in May, I’ll also be having my second baby! I’d say one of my most defining characteristics is my absolute NEED to read. From the time I learned how at the age of 7 I’ve read more than basically anyone I know. When I got to my teen years I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t much for me at the library (I would have been in heaven in today’s YA world), so I swore that I would one day write the novels that I wanted to read at that age. I studied English Literature in college (tried to fight it for about a semester, but knew it was coming) and have been working with my father who is also a novelist, as his writing assistant for about six years now. I wrote my first draft of LOVE & GELATO when I was 24, and six years and about a million rewrites later it is on its way into the world!

BB: What was the inspiration behind your debut, Love & Gelato?
JEW: My life! When I was fifteen my family moved to Florence, Italy where I attended an international school, rode scooters, and ate more gelato than I had any business doing. Florence was and is a very magical place to me, and I wanted to show it through a teen’s eyes–exactly the way I experienced it. Also, Lina’s living circumstances are based on a friend of mine that I met while living there. Her father was the caretaker of the American Cemetery of Florence, and she grew up in a house on the grounds. Every morning she’d go running through all the headstones, and I guess that image stayed with me, because 8 years later I found myself writing a book about a girl running through a cemetery in Florence.

BB: What kind of research went into the writing of Love & Gelato?
JEW: Lots. There was the Italian language portion of the novel (mine has gotten rusty), lots of research on art (which was very fascinating to me), plus a lot of time spent learning more about the “secrets” of Florence–things that most tourists don’t know about. It made me want to go back there ASAP.

BB: Lina’s mother kept many journals, one of which Lina gets to read and use as she discovers her own version of Florence. Why did you feel that having her mom revealed through a journal, rather than her photographs, would be more helpful to both Lina and your readers?
JEW: I chose to add the journal because even though Lina’s mother isn’t present in the novel, I wanted it to be her voice that led Lina through Florence and to the truth about her father. Hadley’s character felt very alive and vivid to me, and I wanted it to be the same way for my readers.

BB: The setting spoke to me as a reader, but beyond that, your vivid characters did. Each we so honest, unique, and real. Of all your characters, which do you see yourself in?
JEW: Thanks for the compliment ! I though long and hard about this question, and I think I’d have to say Hadley. I’m messy, like to keep things on the humorous side, LOVE to travel, and am very invested in creating art. Although Lina’s love for food? That’s all me.

BB: If you had to describe your book in three words, what three words would you use to describe it?
JEW: Adventure, love, mystery!

BB: I recently visited Florence (briefly, and admittedly after reading Love & Gelato I feel like I just didn’t have enough time there), how did you decide which places within Florence to include and not include?
JEW: I’m so jealous you were there recently! And don’t worry, I spent two years there and still feel like I didn’t have enough time. I chose the places that were most magical to me–Ponte Vecchio was and is my most favorite place in the entire world, and as a teen I spent a lot of time dancing at the mentioned clubs and just wandering the streets.

BB: I have to ask, what is your favorite flavor of gelato?
JEW: Bacio! It’s this creamy dark chocolate with little bits of crunchy hazelnuts. Pair that with a side of coconut gelato and…Great. I’m going to have to track some down today, aren’t I?

BB: Can you tell of any upcoming projects?
JEW: Yes! Right now I’m working on a novel based on one of the very small characters in Love & Gelato. It’s also a travel novel involving a mystery and I am having a lot of fun with it.

BB: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?
JEW: DON’T GIVE UP. I was so incredibly frustrated by first few attempts at writing a novel, mostly because I felt like I knew what good writing was, I just couldn’t seem to do it. (Argh!) It took at least three full rewrites to get to where I felt I was on the right track, and another two rewrites to get to something I loved. (That process took six years!) Also, I think it’s important to realize that writing can be a long process, and even though its frustrating to spend a lot of time then have to throw things out or start over, every minute you spend with your notebook or laptop will get you closer to your goal.

Readers, isn’t Jenna Evans Welch awesome!? She’s most definitely an author you will want to watch!

To Jenna Evans Welch, a big THANK YOU! Both me and my readers truly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions.

For more information about Jenna Evans Welch and Live & Gelato be sure to check her out online at: http://www.jennaevanswelch.com

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Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (Advanced copy received from publisher)

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The last thing Lina wants to do is spend her summer in Florence, getting to know the man that is supposedly her long lost father.  But to honor her mother and her mother’s dying wish, Lina goes. But once there, she can’t seem to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. She’s homesick and missing her mother more than ever.

When she’s given a journal – the journal that her mother kept while she lived in Florence – things start to change. Suddenly Lina isn’t seeing the Florence as it is, she’s seeing her mother’s Florence. The one filled with art, Italian pastries, and a secret lover. Beyond that, she’s getting to know the mother she’s lost all too soon.

With the help of new friend Ren, Lina soon discovers, not only the wonders of living in Florence, but like her mother, the wonders of falling in love in this beautiful Italian city.

Love & Gelato, written by author Jenna Evans Welch, is a debut novel full of love, life, and of course (my favorite of all) gelato!

Author Welch’s writing is strong, fresh, and engaging. As a reader I couldn’t help but be invested in, not only the story, but the lives of the characters. Beyond that, Welch’s words have true transportive powers. Even though logically I knew I was in New Jersey, while reading I often felt as if I was in beautiful Florence. I could see the sun rising above the olive vineyards. I could taste the sweetness of the gelato. I was fully there in both mind and spirit. And that’s attributed to Welch’s lush descriptions.  She doesn’t just tell a story, she shows us one.

At first glance it appears that Love & Gelato is a love story. But upon further inspection, readers will come to see that it is so much more than that.  It’s more like an examination of relationships. First there was the relationship between Howard and Lina. Though often strained and awkward, readers will see the growth, and the will sense the exact moment when trust begins to blossom.

Then there’s the relationship between Lina and Ren. Admittedly, it’s instalove. The connection between these to is so strong it’s tangible. Readers will be able to sense the initial hesitation, see the friendship grow, and feel the heat from the sizzling sparks that will soon fly.

And finally there’s the relationship between Lina and her mother. It’s not a spoiler, Lina’s mother dies early on.  Welch’s handling of Lina’s mother death is sensitive and skilled. Even though she isn’t “present” in the book, her presence is definitely felt. Though her journal, not only does Lina get to learn about her mom, but so do the readers.  Welch treats her mom as a main character – not a subplot or a plot point to move to story along.

Speaking of main characters, Love & Gelato is chock full of them. Readers will easily connect with and root for Lina.  She felt like the most authentic, most realistic character that I’ve met in a long time. And what made her so was her flaws. Admittedly there were times I want to shake her, but the growth and progression readers will recognize is payoff enough. But Lina isn’t the only great characters. Howard is the perfect comic relief. And then there’s Ren, who just oozes charm.

It’s obvious that I really enjoyed this book. And honestly readers, I think you will too!  So, go forth and read this perfect. It seriously is a perfect summer read!

Preoccupied

Hello Readers!

True story: I try to read during my lunch hour. It’s honestly where I get most of my reading done. But as of recently I haven’t been reading as much. Instead I’ve been watching Netflix, perusing the Interwebs, and playing one very addictive dragon themed game (Dragon City, if you must know!).

Today, I decided to share with you the shows and the articles that have held my attention recently.

Netflix (Shows) I’ve Been Watching:

The Paradise: A BBC show about a young shop girl working at The Paradise, a high-end department store.

Girlmore Girls: With all this revival talk, I can’t help but re-watch my all time favorite show about a fast talking, pop culture obsessed mother/daughter duo.

Harper’s Island (Amazon Prime): Seven years after a series of gruesome murders, a group of family and friends gather at the Harper’s Island for fun and festivities, only to find murder and mayhem are still lurking in the shadows.

Blogs I’ve Been Reading:

Miss Print

Nicole’s Novel Reads

Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

Please Feed the Bookworm

Andi’s ABCs

YouTube Channels I’ve Been Watching:

Zoella

Sprinkle of Glitter

Grav3yardGirl

Articles I’ve Been Reading:

Why R.L. Stine Thinks It’s Even Harder To Scare Teens Today

Reading In Public Is Not An Invitation for Conversation (thanks Emma for sharing this!)

Your Official YA Summer Reading List

Inside the Rainbow Gulag (thanks Cecelia for telling me about this)

That’s what I’ve been up to readers, what are some shows/articles/videos that have been monopolizing your time? Please share!

Lists Galore (#13)

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(The above picture is from My Future Listography by Lisa Nola)

Hello Readers!

I never thought I was much of a list maker. Why? Well, I’m not the most organized person. And well, lists are for the organized. But since I’ve started this, I rather enjoy these posts. And I enjoy making lists. And today’s topic is all about lists!

Today’s topic is …

List the lists you’d like to make one day.

List of my all time favorite characters.

List of movies I loved as a childhood movies that I loved.

List of all the places I visited and why I loved visiting them.

List of new foods to try.

List of all my favorite fictional villains.

List of books I’d want to re-read.

List of items I’d buy if I won the lotto.

List of zoo I’d like to visit one day (I love going to the zoo!)

List of shows to check out on Netflix.

List of my favorite board games.

List of movies that I’ve wanted to see, but haven’t gotten around to it.

Those are just some of the lists I’d like to make one day. What are some lists you’d like to make dear readers?! Please share in the comments!