Q&A With Ica Iova 3rd Place Winner 2015 World’s Best Story

by Vincent Salera 01 Aug 2016

Q: Your story She Never Got To Say Goodbye won 3rd place of the 2015 edition of the World’s Best Story contest. Did you think you were going to make it so far when you entered the contest? How did you react when you got the news during the contest finale this past December?

A: I think I am not alone when I say that everyone enters a contest hoping to win, or at least to get a mention. That said, when I entered She Never Got To Say Goodbye to World’s Best Story, I knew I was competing against bestselling authors, and though that put a little dent in my confidence, I counted on my strong plot to keep my title afloat. I watched it maintain a high rank during voting, and I was overjoyed obviously, but I knew the judges had the last word. When the announcement came, I think I jumped before my brain even registered why. I posted the news to all my platforms, but it took days for it to truly sink in. Thank you for the great opportunity. It was an amazing experience.

Q: Your story revolves around the main character Olivia who traded her promising career for a more domestic lifestyle as a wife and mother; she expected many things but never to see ghosts, much less be one. Then again, she never expected to be murdered or to have to point the finger at her husband for the crime. Can you tell us a little more about She Never Got To Say Goodbye and some of its compelling characters?

A: Olivia, is a strong character. Raised in a traditional family, she’s full of life, she’s gorgeous, she’s funny. She’s an aspiring lawyer, worried only about her approaching career when she meets her handsome husband, Brandon. Almost immediately, they fall in love; they get married; they have a baby. But fate has other plans for Olivia. Her apparent blissful life falls apart in a hurry when Brandon loses a case, and guilt pushes him into the clutches of alcohol and drugs. After another fight, she opts for divorce, but one minute she’s planning to leave him and the next she’s floating at the foot of her son’s bed. Dead. Murdered. All evidence points to Brandon and in her newly-dead and confused state, she is determined to make him pay.

Brandon is a good man, a romantic at heart and a successful criminal defense lawyer. Until one of his clients commits suicide. It’s then that his usual calm and calculated behavior turns erratic. When Olivia is found murdered, he’s devastated. Even more so because he was in the house at the time of the murder, but he can’t remember a damn thing. He was drunk, and doesn’t think he could have hurt Olivia, but finding the killer while fighting guilt and an angry ghost is something else.

There are other secondary characters—Olivia’s baby, her parents, and Lynn. Then there’s Debbie, Olivia’s best friend, who doesn’t see eye to eye with Brandon and is not shy to show her feelings, and many, many others, including the killer. They each have their complicated backstory and as one reviewer said, “no one is truly good or bad; they make bad choices due to their circumstances, and you can’t help but to feel sympathy for them.” It is what makes the story realistic.

How it all began. I woke up one morning with the words, She Never Got To Say Goodbye, taking tours around my mind. I had no idea where they came from, but a plot had already begun to sprout in my brain, and I thought, hmm, why not? I sat down, and I began outlining parts of the brainstorm, fully believing that it would make a great contemporary crime/suspense/thriller. Once I had everything planned—or at least I thought I did—the words started pouring and, almost like a spectator, I watched chapter after chapter taking shape, until I realized that I had killed my protagonist, Olivia. That was nowhere in my plan. I know this might sound cliché, but it was almost as if my characters didn’t like my plot, and taking matters into their own hands, they had decided to go in a totally different direction. It was then I realized that She Never Got To Say Goodbye was no ordinary story of perfect love spoilt by substance abuse. Apparently some of my readers agree. “It’s a gripping paranormal tale that leaves you questioning your own sanity long after you’ve finished reading.” ~ Amazon reviewer~

Q: If you could cast your story for a movie or TV show, who would you like to see play your characters on the small or big screen?

A: My favorite couple, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Of course, they would have to die their hair dark if they want the part (giggles).

Q: What story has influenced your life?

A: Oh, my God, how much time do you have? There are so many stories and so many authors that have influenced my life in one way or another—too many to count. But I have said this before, and I will say it again. The Chick by Ion Alexandru Bratescu-Voinesti is a children’s book from the Romanian literature. Though I re-wrote it in 2nd grade and gave it a happy ending (big grin)—it has shaped my childhood and to some extent my adulthood. It taught me respect for my parents (and others), it taught me that breaking the rules always, always has consequences—sometimes deathly consequences—and it taught me the importance of compassion and teamwork.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: Read. Read. Read. If you’re truly serious about writing, first, you have to do a lot of reading. Reading will give you the tools and the knowledge of all the important elements, all the dos and don’ts. Beware that one book will never please everyone, but take constructive criticism seriously, and never, ever, limit your creativity.

Q: What are the ingredients for a blockbuster story to you?

A: I write what I enjoy reading—meaning relevant plot, powerful characters, an array of humor, drama, romance, suspense, and of course, an ending that leaves the reader feeling satisfied. I think the same goes for a blockbuster.

Q: What story do you enjoy reading over and over again?

A: I don’t usually read a story more than once, but I have to admit that there were a few in my younger years that I enjoyed reading the second time.

Q: How would you increase literacy?

A: It starts with parenting your kids and instilling in them, from a very young age, the love of learning and reading. I don’t say this lightly as I’m aware we live in a new era. I bring this topic up in my current novel, Angelic Measures. This is the first generation of high-tech parents living and parenting in an age of iEverything. I understand how difficult that can be. Every kid wants that newest gadget, that newest app. If left to them, they probably couldn’t care less who, for instance, wrote The Hobbit. But it is your duty as a parent to raise children who have imagination, who don’t rely on a computer to think and do all the work for them. Pick up a book, read, engage your child in a conversation about the book or even critique the story. Children are like sponges, and you’ll be amazed what an hour of reading every day can do for your child.

Q: What’s on the horizon for Ica Iova?

A: I have just finished writing Angelic Measures. It’s another novel in the (you guessed it) paranormal genre. The plot revolves around an atheist who doesn’t believe in things he can’t see, touch…or at least explain scientifically, a woman whose past has taught her that all men break her heart, make a mess, and leave her toilet seat up, and a little angel who’s determined to prove them both wrong. I am about halfway through the first round of editing/rewrites, and so far, I’m very pleased with the way the story is unfolding.

Q: What is your favorite drink while writing and/or reading?

A: Coffee. Occasionally I enjoy a glass of wine when reading, but I love everything coffee.

Q: What is your favorite tech brand? App?

A: I’m not a brand freak. As long as it does the job, I’m happy.

Q: What is your favorite genre of music, artist?

A: I love all kinds of music and because of that I can’t say that I have one favorite artist. Surely, I like some more than others, but that’s as far as I go.

Q: What is your favorite movie, tv show, superhero?

A: Ghost.

Q: If heaven exists, what is the first thing you would like to hear from God when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

A: I knew you had it in you to make it all the way up here.

Q: What ice cream flavor would you invent?

A: Coffee. But apparently someone else (who loves coffee as much as me) was faster.

Vincent Salera

Founder CEO/CCO @ World's Best Story™ amplifier of creativity & fun!