About Me | Button Nose the Sad Little Bear | Cinderella — A Love Story | Contact | Erik and Isis | Fact Sheet | Favourite Sites | Home | Janet Gaynor — Star, Legend, Friend and Faerie God-mother | The Joy of Pen Pals | My Boys | Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale | Photo Gallery | Sarah Brightman — Lady, Queen and Goddess | This and That
Hi and welcome to my site!! My name, as you may have guessed, is Gina. I was born in August, 1960, and grew up in Havertown, a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. My brother Mike joined the family 2½ years later. One thing I remember vividly from childhood was my obsession for books and, in particular, faerie tales. I had them all — Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan. My two favourites, though, were Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast respectively.
Even though in grade school I didn’t know the difference between a pronoun and a proverb (and diagramming a sentence made about as much sense to me as quantum physics would to a chicken!!!!!), I got the urge to put my thoughts on paper. The first words of my first-ever story came about on 28 October, 1973, in a brand new spiral notebook I’d gotten for my masterpiece. This was completed in early January, 1976. Over the next few years, I started fine-tuning my craft. I dabbled in poetry, wrote a few short stories and continued to read voraciously. This included everything from classic literature to the occult to science fiction and books on the Golden Age of Hollywood!!
During the late 1970’s, I developed another love in the form of live theatre. The stage became my medium, thanks in part to my high school theatre teacher Anthony DeCurtis. I even wrote a short, one-act piece for my class’s final project. It starred two classmates and myself and was a “sequel” to the gothic 60’s soap opera Dark Shadows. In early 1980, I began my first major writing project, which combined my fairly new love of theatre with my first love of faerie tales. The result was Cinderella — A Play in Two Acts, my own retelling of the classic tale but with an unusual twist. I even designed the sets and Ella’s costumes. I hope to publish that sometime in 2012. The following year I took each scene in the play and wrote a chapter around it. I titled it Cinderella — A Love Story (not to be confused with Disney’s films A Cinderella Story and Another Cinderella Story starring Hilary Duff). For more on that book click here.
In 1973, I discovered another great love — silent film. Philadelphia’s PBS station, WHYY, began airing what they called a Silent Film Festival every Saturday night with an encore presentation on Sunday afternoon. We got to see so many great classic films — many of which I’ve been able to find on DVD (thank Ra!). One night the film that aired was called Seventh Heaven. Directed by Frank Borzage, it was one of the greatest and most tender love stories ever filmed. Set in the slums of Paris on the eve of World War I, it starred two relative newcomers to the film industry — 20-year-old Janet Gaynor and 26-year-old Charlie Farrell.
Well, from the first minute she appeared until the film’s last frame I was hooked!! Not only did I fall head over heels for the character — a timid, sweet, fragile girl who grows into an incredibly strong, amazing woman who will do whatever it takes (including some well-deserved revenge) to protect herself and her home — but for this young actress as well!! She was absolutely incredible!!!!! Every thought was conveyed through her eyes, facial expressions and body movements. I know of only a handful of performers today who can truly match that amazing talent.
A few years ago, I wrote a memoir about my friendship with Janet, who I happily met in early 1980. An abridged version was published on the web at www.things-and-other-stuff.com/movies/profiles/janet-gaynor.html but the full-length version is available here. Enjoy!! Not long after, I was approached by Lisa Van Eyssen at Van Ness Films to assist in their production of A&E’s Biography of Janet. That premiered on 26 May, 2001.
In the last couple of years I’ve been working closely with documentary film maker Sarah Baker on her latest project — a dual biography/career study of Janet and Charlie Farrell. Her book Lucky Stars became available in December, 2009. Check out Sarah’s web sites, too — www.flapperjane.com and www.sarahbaker.org. In May, 2009, I was also asked to write Janet’s biography for my friend Kay’s site — www.silenthollywood.com.
Not long after I discovered silent films, PBS began airing a programme geared toward young people called Big Blue Marble. It aired from 1974-1981 and one feature was to show each week a young person from a different country. One week they were from Egypt, the next from India and the next from Asia. My favourite part was the pen pal segment, which always followed.
Sponsored by ITT, Dear Pen Pal was a worldwide organization based in Santa Barbara, CA. Its goal was to further understanding and world peace by uniting young people in friendship from around the globe. Having been brought up in the regime of a Catholic grade school, I was the student who received the brunt of my classmates’ clique system and went from first grade through eighth without having a single friend. The only time most of them paid attention to me was when they needed someone to tease and torment!!!!! It was a situation that still puzzles me, considering the legion of friends I have today.
Anyway, I sent the request for my first pen pal in December, 1974 — Blossom Knight from Clarendon, Jamaica came into my life six months later. What I didn’t know at the time was that Blossom had actually picked my name from among those received by her class in Jamaica. Eventually I added Karen Shepherdson and Young-Ae Park to my growing list of pen pals. For our entire story click here.
Phantom of the Opera and Sarah Brightman
Back in the early 90s the department store I worked in began playing a beautiful song on their Muzak tapes. The music flowed and was the most haunting melody I’d ever heard. The song turned out to be The Music of the Night, the love theme from Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.
I got the soundtrack and it wasn’t long before I was completely hooked on this amazing show, not to mention its two fabulous Stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. In 1993, I saw Phantom live on stage at Philadelphia’s Forest Theatre and around the same time joined the M.C.I.F.A. (Michael Crawford International Fan Association). The following year I became part of the Sarah Brightman fan club, which was run at the time by Linda Nicholls and her husband David from the UK. Both became dear friends.
In early 1995 I learned that not only was Phantom returning to Philly but that Sarah Brightman, whom I had come to adore, would be just across the bridge in Camden, NJ for her Surrender tour concert. That June, after both performances, I wrote an article for a Phantom phan club I’d joined called the Phantom Appreciation Society. It was being run by a sweet girl named Christine Daaé (née Vicki Baum). To read the article click here.
Time passed and in the summer of 2000, I was informed that Sarah would be returning to Philadelphia, this time to the beautiful Mann Centre for the Performing Arts, for her ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS La Luna tour. Once more, my Dad got me three tickets for my birthday and he, Mum and I went on 27 September, 2000. It was, without a doubt, one of the most incredible nights of my life! To read the whole story, click here.
In January, 2004, I was able to see Sarah yet again, this time for the phenomenal Harem tour. Mum and I were completely floored and I wished I could have gone back a few more times. Fortunately, I can with the concert video and play my favourite parts again and again.
Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale
Okay, this little story was the turning point of my life. The original version, written as a short story a few gazillion years ago, was the story of two young Princesses named Kira and Danae who find a dragon’s egg and take it to their father King Quentin. That ended up in a notebook with the rest of my stories.
In 2007, I decided to update the story for Dayne and Maureen’s little girl Kameela, who was seven at the time, using the Build-A-Bear “Kameela Bear” that I’d gotten her as the main character. I then changed the second Princess to a Prince and named him after Kameela’s big brother Dayshawn.
While searching one day for a children’s book publisher for Pegasus, I came across Amazon’s first Breakthrough Novel Award contest. I entered Cinderella — A Love Story in October since the prize was $25,000 cash and a publishing contract with Penguin Books. Well, I didn’t make the semi-finals, but my prize was an account with Create Space, a print-on-demand self publisher.
Yeah, okay, the rest of that info is under Cinderella’s link. Now, for Pegasus….While waiting for the artwork to be done on Cinderella, I decided to hire another illustrator to do the art for Pegasus and have that as my first published book. I linked on to the IBPA’s web site (the Independent Book Publishers Association, of which I am a member) and found a woman out of Michigan. She and I worked well together and within six weeks, we had 25 lovely black and white illustrations completed. I went with black and white since it was less expensive but I still think they look great! In 2011 I had the artwork redone by a different artist and the new version was published on 25 July. In November, 2011, Pegasus received the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Category of Children’s Interest.
In October, 2008, I decided to create my own publishing company. I was originally going to name it Isis Publications (in honour of my Beloved Goddess) but found that was already taken. What to call it then? Hmmm! It didn’t take me long to decide. In keeping with my favourite ancient culture, I created Nephthys Publications in honour of Isis’s little sister. Everything was made official on 7 November, 2008. Using my own design Linda created my logo, a phoenix and the mythical creature associated with Lady Nephthys.
Pegasus was published on 3 December, 2008, and I presented Kameela with both her bear and her book on 28 December. She was absolutely thrilled and loved both gifts. Meantime, if you’d like to own a copy of your own click here for a link to my eBay page. I take PayPal and will also take a Postal Money Order. For international orders please just use PayPal, it’ll be easier. Let me know if you’d like it autographed and to whom and I will be happy to comply.