Interview with MG Author Gina Willner-Pardo

As my sayonara to Middle Grade Mentions, I would like to introduce, Middle Grade Author Gina Willner-Pardo, enjoy 🙂

Hi! My name is Gina Willner-Pardo, and I’ve been writing children’s books for a long time!  My first book, NATALIE SPITZER’S TURTLES, was published in 1992, and my seventeenth book, PRETTIEST DOLL (published by Clarion), is coming out on November 6, 2012.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have been writing books since I was seven years old.  I didn’t seriously consider myself a writer until I published my first book.  I was thirty-three at the time.

How did you get the idea for your book?

I have a very embarrassing habit: I watch bad TV when I’m sick.  A few years ago, I happened to catch a reality show called “Little Miss Perfect,” about little girls who competed in child beauty pageants.  I was mesmerized and horrified all at once.  I thought, Those poor kids.  And then I thought, I wonder what would happen if one of them told her mother she didn’t want to do this anymore.

When & why did you start writing?

I started writing when I was about seven.  I loved books, I loved reading books, I loved having books read to me, and once I mastered the art of holding a pencil (yes, in olden times), I was besotted with the idea of writing books of my own.

What is the best piece of constructive criticism you ever received?

Get used to rejection fast, because there is no way to become a published writer without experiencing rejection.  Repeat: There. Is. No. Way.

How do you overcome “writer’s block” ?

I just start typing.  Even if it’s bad.  Even if I know I’ll have to take it out later.  If I just force the muscles to start moving, sometimes I can get started again.

If it doesn’t work, I listen to old R & B, take a walk, go for a drive.  Anything to get away from the computer.  But not for too long. 

Are you a full time writer?

Yes, in the sense that I don’t do anything else for money.  But I don’t work nearly as many hours/day as people who do different kinds of jobs.

Anthony Trollope wrote five thousand words a day, every day, before heading to his job as a postal clerk.  This is simply astounding to me.

When my kids were young, I considered myself a full-time mother who was a part-time writer.  But they’re adults now, so writing is my full-time job.  I am very lucky indeed.

Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know?

My boyfriend and I walk around the house talking to each other with British accents, even though neither of us is British.  I can’t believe I’m telling anyone this.

How did you find a publisher for your book?

When I finished PRETTIEST DOLL, I sent it to my agent, Jennifer Laughran, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  She asked for some revisions, which I made.  Then she sent it to several editors.  Most of them liked the book a lot, but Dinah Stevenson from Clarion was the first to make an offer.  I’ve worked with Dinah many times in the past and was very happy to work with her again.

What is some advice you would impart to aspiring authors?

1)      Read, read, read.

2)      Write every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes.

3)      Get used to rejection.

4)      Believe in yourself.  Believe you are good enough to do this.

 What is your favorite book?

I wrote a blog post about this recently.  Here’s a link:

What is your favorite movie?

Ooh.  This is hard.  “When Harry Met Sally.”  “The Big Chill.”  “Love, Actually.”  “Hope Floats.” The Thin Man series, with William Powell and Myrna Loy.  Anything with Fred Astaire.  “Witness for the Prosecution,” with Charles Laughton.

In other words, really good romantic comedies and very old movies.  I don’t care much for movies made in the last few years.  The last really good one I saw was “Winter’s Bone,” with Jennifer Lawrence.  That knocked me out.

What is the next book you want to write?

My agent is shopping my latest manuscript, which is a middle-grade novel about three friends and the secrets they keep.

I’ve started working on a new manuscript about a very dysfunctional family.  I’m not sure if it will be for kids or adults.  The working title is KNOWING FROM CRAZY.

Last words???

I am so grateful to Patrice Caldwell for including me on her blog and asking me such thought-provoking questions.  And I am so happy that there are people out there who still care about what writers have to say. 

Keep reading.  Buy books if you can; check them out of the library if you can’t.  Visit me at and, if you are on twitter, @GinaWPardo.  Send me an e-mail or a tweet, and I’ll write you back.  Love and blessings to you all.

Thank you Gina for doing this interview, you’re advice to aspiring authors is truly a gift!

P.S. I like speaking in British accents too!

Whimsically Yours,



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