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An Interview with Gina Darlington, Author of What the H*ck Am I Doing?

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Gina Darlington has been writing all her life. She wrote as a child, was published in high school, and later in a national magazine. She wrote articles for the local newspaper, essays, short stories, and a few ten-minute plays. She had a poem published in the local college literary magazine. Gina has been a teacher all of her life, first as a dance studio teacher, then at the college level, and most recently teaching quilting at local stores and in the community. She has written two novels, an autobiography, and a memoir of her journey into real estate investing. She lives in the mountains of Arizona (where it snows) with her husband. She has five sons, four daughters-in-law, and fifteen grandchildren scattered across the country. She enjoys traveling to see them.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wrote short plays and stories with my brothers growing up, short stories and poems for our high school literary magazine, and I’ve been published in Quilters Newsletter magazine, our local college literary magazine, and our local newspaper. I’ve also written and self-published some quilt patterns, as quilting is my hobby. I’ve written a couple of fictional novels for National Novel Writing Month, but have yet to submit them for publishing. I started an autobiography of my mother. I love to read, especially historical fiction and mysteries.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

My husband and I joined the world of real estate investing with a vengeance in 2014, although we had dabbled in it before that. People kept asking me how we did it. They wanted details about buying at foreclosure auctions, flipping houses, rentals, and overall investing. Finally, I decided to write a book about it. This book is not a “how to invest in real estate” guide, or a “how to flip houses” book, or a “rentals to retirement” manual. It is a memoir, chronicle, record—maybe even a treatise—of my experiences in real estate.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

It is a true statement. What the hell am I doing? I really didn’t know, but jumped in with both feet and a little advice here and there. I changed the title to “h*ck” as an ode to my adult kids giving me a hard time about using a cuss word since I wouldn’t let them use one when they were writing “books” in high school, and to my upbringing in Utah where the word “heck” is used as frequently as “dang.”

Describe your dream book cover.

That’s a difficult task. Maybe a run-down house and a second picture of it rehabbed. Or question marks and dollar signs. Or the title in bold emphatic letters. I’m not a good visual artist, so I have a hard time imagining what it should be.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I was a professional dancer, dance teacher, college professor, and office manager for my husband’s dental office for the majority of my life. Once my kids were grown and gave me a bunch of grandkids who lived far from me, my priorities changed. Additionally, my body wore out from dancing. Covid, the real estate market, and my interests all contributed to working in real estate investing.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Mostly I listened to podcasts about real estate investing. I don’t think there’s another book out there that could give me the information I have learned from hands-on experience.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope they enjoy the journey and learn a few things from my successes and failures. I’ve had million-dollar losses and mobile home successes. Overall, I have a net worth of millions in real estate and I worked my butt off to get here. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned and think it is an entertaining read.

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