By Kenneth Barilari
New Jersey author Lisa Marie Latino is set to release her debut novel, Ten Years Later, on October 4.
The novel tells the story of Carla D’Agostino, a New Jersey-based sports radio producer. When Carla receives a save-the-date for her ten-year high school reunion, she sets out to achieve the life she longs for in a year’s time.
Lisa Marie Latino, executive producer of Long Shot Productions, and co-creator of Hip New Jersey, has always aspired to be an author. “I just needed to find a topic that I was passionate about to find the fire to accomplish this goal,” she states. “This book gives a voice to the underdog. Carla is such a fighter. Nothing came easy for her, so I want to give a voice to those people because that’s my background. I had to overcome a lot, starting my company as a young woman. It was a long shot that I was even going to make it.”
“When I came up with the idea in 2011, I was on the one-year-eve of my own high school reunion. It was a time of transition,” she recalls. Her production company was still in its infancy stages, she was living at home, and she was single. “There were a lot of things that weren’t lined up.” She remembers going on Facebook, like we all do, and seeing who just got engaged, who is married, who just had a baby, and feeling angst. She decided to channel those feelings into something productive. “That laid the groundwork for the story,” she says. “No one is satisfied with where they are. Everyone has something in life that they wish they could go in and tweak. This book is for all those people out there.”
Latino says that growing up and living in New Jersey has played a big role in the book. She too lives in New Jersey and works in New York. “The book has those iconic city moments, but shows suburban life as well. I love that compare and contrast.” Her experience growing up Italian American also has a major influence on the book. These characters are not Jersey Shore. Rather, they have traditional Italian values and quirks. “What shapes Carla is her family,” Latino says.
Self-publishing is not an easy task. When an author decides to self-publish, they essentially take on the role of a traditional publishing house. Latino was in charge of it all, from hiring an editorial team to marketing and distribution. “The biggest obstacle is starting a new business when you have everything else going on in your life,” she says.
It was difficult for Latino to make time to write. “I live madness each day,” she says. “In order to get this done, I had to remove myself from society.” She recalls telling everyone in her life that she had a business trip, renting a hotel room, and writing. “That’s the only way I would’ve gotten it done.”
When asked to name her favorite character, the New Jersey author thinks of Carla. “She is the one that the book revolves around. She breathes life into the idea.” Then, she mentions Carla’s mother, describing her as the “typical overbearing, nervous mom who says the craziest things.”
Ryan Nicole Hickey, Long Shot Productions employee, had the opportunity to read the book prior to its upcoming release. She describes it as the “perfect read for a relaxing day at the Jersey Shore It is a hilarious romp that pulls you in immediately.”
While the book is full of laughs, there is a meaningful message underneath it all. Carla is trying to change so many aspects of her life. Then, by the end of the book, she realizes that she had them all along. “If you have a goal, dig deep into yourself and achieve it,” Latino states. She hopes her readers finish the book realizing what they have in their lives and appreciating it, “because that’s when the good things will start happening.”
Join Lisa Marie Latino for a meet and greet on October 8 at Bloomingdale’s Short Hills. Ten Years Later, out October 4, is available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon. To learn more about this NJ author, head over to her website.
By Kenneth Barilari