Gigi Blume is the author of contemporary Jane Austen-inspired rom-coms. She will chat about how she channels Jane as a non-Brit, how she writes witty banter, and how she makes book trailers.
Q. Am I right in my guess that you are British?
A. Nope. Not British. I’m from California. I just watch a lot of BBC.
Q. Ha ha ha!! I love that answer. What kind of stuff do you watch on BBC?
A. Doctor Who. The Graham Norton Show. I love period dramas. Pride and Prejudice 1995 is my favorite.
Q. Well, you must be British in another life because you seem to have nailed it with your British characters in your Jane Austen retelling series, starting off with your novella Confessions of a Hollywood Matchmaker. Have you been to England?
A. Sadly, no. Bucket list, though.
Q. Mine too. How long have you been writing and how did you get into publishing?
A. I’ve been writing since I was ten years old, but it never took off. My interest was writing for the screen. In middle school I joined the drama club to get a better idea of how actors interpret scripts, I guess. But I caught the acting bug. But deep inside I still wanted to write. Story long enough yet? LOL
So a couple of years ago, I reconnected with one of my old acting buddies online. He had over 30 book published and was making a full-time living. I figured I could do that, too, so I hunkered down, lurked in groups like 20Books, learned all I could, and self-published my debut novel in Feb 2019.
Q. (I stand corrected. I believe Jaxson in your novella is Aussie?) Yes, I can see that, your stories have a cinematic quality about them. What genre was your acting buddy publishing?
A. He writes paranormal/shape shifters, that sort of thing. (Yes, Jaxson is Aussie. We’ll see him again soon.)
Q. In your series, your novella is #7. And you have book #1 of the series. That’s it. No other books between. I have never seen anyone number their books in a series that way. Is #7 not a prequel? And why did you choose to do it this way?
A. I’m just clueless, really. The Zon doesn’t allow for half numbers, like 0.5. I plan on renumbering it soon.
Q. Well it should be a thing if it’s not. Because it makes one sit up and take notice. Speaking of which. What made me notice your series is that it reads like breezy chick lit but clean. Was that a conscious decision on your part? First POV, strong voice…
A. I know it’s a total cliché, but the characters really do write the story. They get in my head and tell me how they want to be portrayed. I’m innocent in all this. LOL
Q. An adjective I think of when I read your book was “droll.” A witty sense of humor. Are you that way in real life? How do you translate that kind of humor on that page? How do you prep to be funny? (I’m getting to the bottom of this.)
A. I have a wonky sense of humor, but I don’t think I’m tremendously funny in real life. I do love to laugh. Part of it probably comes from my training at The Groundlings, I suppose. Acting is a skill that translated onto the page, especially when you’re writing dialogue. I love witty banter. Other than that, I read a lot in my genre and watch Rom-Coms. The funnier the better.
Q. What is your favorite Rom-Com?
A. There’s a super cute movie with Daniel Radcliff I think every romance author should watch. In Canada (where it was filmed) it’s called The F Word. But for US audiences they changed the title to What If because you know…censors. It’s on Prime. Go watch it now!
Q. Ha, okay! I thought you were British because of your word choices. Just different, and the fact that you write Jane Austen retellings. How did you choose that genre to launch your books with?
A. It’s a learning experience for me. I’m new to penning novels and self-publishing and the contemporary Jane Austen retellings seemed like a good way to get my feet wet. And not all characters are British. Only two.
Q. What is your writing process? How do you draft and revise? How long are or will your books be?
A. I’m a percolator. I have an idea and let it percolate for a while. I do write a rough outline, and revise it as I go along. But I seem to go over my expected word count like crazy. I have no control. Love and Loathing is 120K, Secrets of a Hollywood Matchmaker (coming Dec 23) is 84K.
Q. Whoa. No kidding. 120k. Yeah, that’s long. More power to you. How do you herd a manuscript like that?
Q. All in your head or in a notebook somewhere?
A. It helps that I have Jane’s source material to work with. (It also hinders because I’m stuck with the original outline) I have a notebook and a lot is in my head too.
Q. Ah, gotcha. Do you have another job or jobs on the side?
A. I help my husband run his catering business.
Q. That sounds fun. What is his culinary specialty?
A. He traveled to Spain to learn the cuisine there. He makes awesome paella and tapas.
Q. Oh my word. I wish you were local. I love love love the Spanish cuisine and culture. Wish I could sample it, but I will settle for a photo.
Q. Oh. My. Yum.
A. This paella pan is four feet wide.
Q. That is crazy wonderful. You also make book trailers for authors, yes? Tell me about that. How you got started and what program you use.
A. I do! I have so much fun making trailers. It ties my love of books with my love of the cinema. I use iMovie, but don’t use the templates. I’m also learning other programs. I have a subscription for stock footage sites so all the footage is paid for and royalty-free.
Q. What is your book trailer company called?
A. Sodasac Author Services. I also make promo graphics, bookstagrams, and launch teasers.
Q. How long have you been doing that now? And why the name?
A. This is a new endeavor for me. Just a couple of months. Sodasac is my maiden name spelled backwards.
Q. Clever!! What is the trick to capturing the essence of a book in a trailer?
A. I ask some questions of the author to help me get a feel for their book and then I immerse myself in the story, searching for images that convey that feeling. Same with music. Then I work with the author to refine the clips, take some out, rearrange the order, etc. to make the trailer they love.
Q. Is Gigi Blume a pen name?
A. Gigi is a nickname I’ve had since I was in seventh grade.
Q. In just the opening chapter of your novella, I can already sense the sparks between the characters. Based on all the rom-coms you have watched and read, what is the secret sauce for that spark? And how do you keep your readers clamoring for more, 120k words later?
A. So, secret sauce for that spark. I think it’s knowing who your characters are, letting their voice come forth, and bringing that into the dialogue. I hope they clamor for more 120K words later. I try to build the romantic tension throughout and keep the book flowing through humor. Save the Cat is a good resource for that. It’s something I learned from studying movies and screenplays. The structure.
Q. Love that! Gigi, our time is up. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. It’s been fun and best of luck with your next release!
A. The pleasure is all mine. It’s been fun chatting with you.