I have SO MUCH LOVE for Jenna Evans Welch’s debut, Love & Gelato! Go read my previous review if you want, or just trust me that it’s awesome. (And make sure you read through to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a copy!)
One of my very favorite things about this book, though, was the Italian setting, which is downright magical in the way that Jenna brings it to life on the page. I asked her to share a bit about the process of writing a book with an American teen in a foreign setting, and about her inspiration for the setting. So, without further ado, here’s Jenna!
Hello YA Blog World, and thank you Melissa for spotlighting me on your blog!
On May 3 I had a lifelong dream come true–my first YA novel LOVE & GELATO was released. After working on it for years (I wrote the first draft over seven years ago) it has been thrilling to hear from people who are actually reading it!
Here is a little bit about my book: LOVE & GELATO is a contemporary YA novel about a 16 year old girl named Lina who loses her mother to a fast moving illness. Before she dies, Lina’s mother makes her promise to spend some time with Howard, a man she met on a study abroad in Italy many years before. When Lina arrives in Florence she learns two things about Howard: one, he happens to be the caretaker for an American cemetery, and two, he’s her father. Of course this brings up a whole world of questions for Lina, namely: why didn’t her mom tell her who Howard was? Why did she keep her from him? And perhaps most troubling, why is she with him now? With the help of her mother’s journal, Lina starts exploring the city and piecing together her parents’ love story while (of course) getting entangled in her own.
The inspiration for this story was definitely personal. When I was 15-years old, my adventurous parents packed up me and my four younger siblings (plus about 300 duffel bags) and moved us to Florence for a year. We lived in a little house in Tuscany, and I attended high school in a tiny international school housed in an old villa. During that first year I drove a scooter, ate mass quantities of gelato, and made friends from all over the world. It was absolutely magical. When that first year was up I begged my parents to let me stay for a second year on my own–and amazingly, they did.
Those two years a very big deal to me. Leaving my comfort zone for a place with people from all over the world expanded my world exponentially and I have thought about that experience on a daily basis ever since. So when I decided I was going to go for it–fulfill my lifelong dream of writing a YA novel–it only made sense to write about a teenage girl discovering Italy.
My goal during this whole process was to write the book that I was looking for as a teenager. I wanted adventure, humor, romance and mystery–but most of all I wanted to be transported somewhere magic, and my hope is that LOVE & GELATO does just that.
Thank you for spotlighting my book!
With lots of love (and gelato), Jenna
AND go buy yourself a copy, because when we’re talking about love and gelato, who wants to wait and see if they win? Go get it!
Check out Jenna’s author page on Goodreads, too, where you can ask her questions and stay connected with her latest news.