Gina Dalfonzo wanted to be all kinds of things when she grew up—a ballerina or a pianist or a veterinarian. But writing was always something she enjoyed and a common thread that ran through her life. Her first piece was published in Guideposts when she was in high school, and she continued to write in college. Following college, she worked for a nonprofit organization as an editor, writer, and policy analyst. After that first job, she continued to write and edit in various capacities along with doing freelance work, too.
In her first book, One by One, which came out in 2017, Dalfonzo wrote about single people in the church. The topic was very important to her, and she worked on it for several years. She says, “I wanted to get that experience out there and tell other Christians about it and help other Christians navigate being single in the church. I also wanted to help the church as a whole know we’re out there, these are the kinds of things we’re going through, and we need you to listen and try to understand, and work with us.”
Dalfonzo put together the book proposal for what would become One by One from a “shapeless mass” that emerged from several years of research, notes, and many questionnaires filled out by other single Christians. Her agent shopped it around, and it was picked up by Baker. She says she was a bit more organized and disciplined while writing her second book which doesn’t have a set publication date yet. She wants to be more disciplined with her writing practice. “I snatch little bits of time to do it. I often stay up until one in the morning writing, which is a terrible habit. But I am a bit of a night owl naturally and tend to get more done that way. If you’re a busy person with a job, you just find a way somehow to fit it in.”
When discussing her writing process, Dalfonzo talked about how the writing process is a learning process. She usually creates an outline at the beginning of a new essay or book chapter, but goes with the flow and changes it as needed. She doesn’t always end up where she thought she would. “You learn new things as you research. You learn new things as you’re thinking about your topic. You learn new things in the actual act of putting words down on paper. It’s constantly shifting and changing. You may end up near where you thought you would go, but you may also end up pretty far away.”
Faith is the foundation of Dalfonzo’s writing. She has mostly written for Christian publications, so her faith very much impacts what she writes and how she writes and who she writes for. Her thoughts and ideas and feelings all flow out of her faith. “Whether I’m writing openly as a Christian or not, my faith shapes my work. It shapes everything I do and think about.”
Creative inspiration seems to be everywhere for Dalfonzo. She is inspired while watching TV or reading a book or gardening or doing any number of things. Ideas come to her, and when they seem like they’re good fodder for an article or essay, she starts to write. She says inspiration is everywhere if you’re keeping an eye out for it.
C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Charles Dickens are Dalfonzo’s three favorite authors, and they have had a significant influence on her and her work. Her next book is about Lewis and Sayers and their friendship. She is very grateful she had the opportunity to write about their friendship and their professional work together.
Dalfonzo usually has around four books going at any one time and has recently been reading The Color of Compromise, the second book of The Mirror Visitor fantasy series, and a book about Charles Dickens called Knowing Dickens. She recently finished The Lovely War, which she has been recommending to everyone around her.
When thinking about her hopes for faith and writing, she says she would love for there to be room for all kinds of voices. “There’s such a pendulum swing sometimes in writing, faith, creativity, and public discourse. There was a time when it seemed like all Christian women were supposed to be writing light and fluffy things. Then the pendulum swung, and it seems like women were supposed to be gritty and subversive and questioning everything and pushing back on everything.” She doesn’t feel like either of those extremes is a place where she fits. She finds herself somewhere in the middle, trying to find her way in this world of Christian women writers. She hopes writers can one day be celebrated for having some elements of conservatism while also having some elements of pushing back and questioning.
Gina Dalfonzo is a writer in northern Virginia. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Christianity Today, The Weekly Standard, Christ & Pop Culture, First Things, and elsewhere. Her book One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church was published by Baker in 2017. She's currently working on a book about the friendship of C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers.