Nina Romano’s love of storytelling began around her grandmother’s table. As a child listening to her family’s stories, Romano had no way of knowing they would eventually inspire five poetry collections, two poetry chapbooks, a short story collection and a trilogy of novels that would earn her several awards and rave reviews from readers.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Romano was an avid reader whose writing talent blossomed early. “As a child, I wrote little love notes to my parents and left them by their bedside,” she recalls. “I began writing poems when I was thirteen. I started my first novel at sixteen but put it away when I realized I had no life experience.” She graduated from Ithaca College and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from Adelphi University. After several years as a middle school teacher, she moved to Italy with her husband, Felipe, where she lived for the next twenty years. It was here that Romano began submitting her poems to magazines and even self-published a few poetry books.
In 1990, Romano returned stateside and settled in Florida where she made the decision to seriously pursue a writing career. She enrolled in Florida International University and earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. “I took five grad courses in poetry from Campbell McGrath,” she says. “My final portfolio was a fifty-page stack of poems.” This served as the basis for her first poetry collection, Cooking Lessons. Inspired by her years in Italy, Cooking Lessons was praised by Midwest Book Review as … “a poetic treat not to be missed.”
Romano published three more poetry collections, ending with She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding, a book she describes as “one long, elegiac narrative poem in fifteen sections” written for her dying mother. She calls it “one of my best and most difficult.” Romano then turned to short stories with the publication of a collection titled The Other Side of the Gate. According to Romano, “Short stories are the most difficult to write because you must be concise. I read poetry before I begin writing fiction. Something transfers that makes it easier to begin.”
Romano’s transition to novels actually began with a short story. As a child, she was enthralled by her grandfather’s tales of his experiences in the Italian Navy during the Boxer Rebellion. After two visits to China, Romano wrote a short story titled “The Rain,” which was published in Hong Kong’s Dim Sum Literary Magazine. The story grew into her first full-length novel—The Secret Language of Women, a haunting love story of a Eurasian woman and an Italian sailor. The book is written with a lyrical beauty that elevates it to the level of literary fiction and echoes Romano’s poetic soul. It was awarded a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
The year that her first novel, The Secret Language of Women, was released, Romano also had her fifth poetry collection published. Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows was written for her dying brother, her first cowboy hero. Romano then signed on for two companion novels to create The Wayfarer Trilogy. Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the series, is set in Sicily and chronicles a woman’s struggle with love, loss and intimacy. The final installment, In America, is a coming-of- age story set in New York during the Depression. It follows a young Italian-American girl’s quest for her true love and true self. All of Romano’s novels were finalists for book awards.
Having completed her Wayfarer Trilogy, Romano recently finished a Western novel set between New Mexico and St. Louis, Missouri. For her next writing projects, she’s contemplating a mystery set in Leningrad in 1950 and a WWII novel based on the life of her one hundred and three year-old aunt who lives in Italy. “The past makes me what I am today,” Romano explains. “My family background influences everything I write. In all my writing, there are lots of family stories and family history. It’s beautiful to investigate how things could have been and to envision how they might be. Times past help our understanding of the era we’re living in.”
For more information, visit the author’s website at www.ninaromano.com