“There are a ton of single women out there who live alone or with roommates, who work and save their money, buy houses, go on vacations and have absolutely no idea where they can meet a decent guy,” says Gina Malone in The Independent Woman’s Guide to Life.
Written by USF alumna Gabi Lorino, The Independent Woman’s Guide to Life centers around Malone, who writes and performs a one-woman stage show in an upcoming theatrical festival. The show, which bears the same title as her book, chronicles her adventures in job hopping, speed dating, traveling the world, hanging out with her friends and serving as a bridesmaid. Through it all, Gina and her best friends support each other in career highs and lows, love and post-college poverty.
The inspiration for the book was a result of the pressure Lorino felt to settle down in her mid-twenties.
“It started out as a way of making myself feel normal for being overwhelmed with the idea that my peers and I were supposed to be ready to start real careers or get married at age 24 or 25,” said Lorino. “I didn’t feel ready for any of that at that age and started writing as a rationalization.”
Lorino, a Florida native, graduated from USF in 1996, majoring in magazine journalism with a minor in sociology. As a student, she was also active in the university’s theater department. In 1998, after taking a course in writing and acting through the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, she wrote and performed a one-woman show entitled “The Independent Woman’s Guide to Life,” on which her novel was based.
“I didn’t use the material from the original show because I figured I knew much more at age 30 than I did at 24, and to avoid any conflict of interest with the theater,” said Lorino.
The novel is set in the Tampa Bay area and features several local attractions such as the Tampa Theatre, the State Theater in St. Petersburg, local beaches and a dance club in St. Petersburg. In addition, the characters of Gina Malone and her best friends, as well as the experiences they undergo, are loosely based on Lorino, her friends and their experiences.
“A lot of it is (based on) my friends and me,” said Lorino. “I’m one of those people who people call up in the middle of the night and tell their problems to, so I’ve heard a lot of stories. We’re all single women, all around age 30.”
The message behind the book is that single women are not a novelty. Due to a lifestyle that is different than past generations’, more women are finding themselves single for a longer period of time.
“I hope that the women who read my book look at it as an affirmation of their singleness, of their confusion about their place in the world, and know that they are not alone,” said Lorino. “We have parents who paired up early on and are either divorced or still married, and our lifestyle nowadays doesn’t consist of a bunch of nice, healthy, normal men crowding around looking for nice women to marry. We are alone sometimes, for better or for worse, and we have to build a life in this new world.”
Lorino now works as a technical writer and is busy writing her second novel, a continuation of The Independent Woman’s Guide to Life. Adventures to look for in this novel include a shopping trip to the H&M clothing store, Gina’s 30th birthday and a possible marriage.
“I think one of the women should fall in love,” said Lorino. “That is inevitable, after all.”
Copies of the book are available at Just Books, near USF Tampa; Barnes & Noble; Book Swap of Carrollwood; Frankie’s Card Cottage, Lakeland; Inkwood Books, Tampa; or through Lorino’s Web site, www.gabilorino.com .
A book signing is also set for Thursday at Tampa Theatre from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Copies of the book will be available there for $15 each.