Fans of AS THE WORLD TURNS remember Kristina Sisco as Oakdale ingenue Abigail, but now going by her married name, Romero, the Emmy-nominated actress has dabbled in directing and recently completed her first novel!
"It does sound like I've been all over the map," she admits with a chuckle. "But for me, it's all the same, because I've always wanted to tell stories. When I went out to California after ATWT, I enrolled in USC and got my masters in writing. So it's always been a passion of mine."
Calling Extra is the story of 13-year-old immigrant Elsie Lutz who finds herself wrapped up in the infamous newsboy strike of 1899 after her father is arrested and she's left to fend for herself on the streets of Manhattan. "There were kids who lived in New York City who worked for a living and in such impoverished conditions," she explains. "They were doing all they could just to make pennies to get through the day."
The tenements of a turn-of-the-century Big Apple may seem a far cry from Oakdale, but Romero says she'd been working on her debut novel for years and was actually inspired by her love for the Disney movie (now-turned-Broadway-musical) Newsies!
"I always wanted to know more about the actual event of the newsboy strike," she says. "So for my undergrad, I did a little research and wrote a short story. At USC, my professor taught a historical fiction writing class, and I started to flesh it out and got a lot of positive response. So I spent the next few years doing more research and fleshing it out even more."
Romero laughs and adds: "I know way more about 1899 than one person probably needs to know!"
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Much like the current indie soap movement, Romero opted to self-publish Calling Extra. "The real success for me was finishing the book," she confides. "I didn't feel like I needed to have it published through some publishing company in order to feel like it was a book. If the audience is there, they'll find it. Like with soaps, people still want to hear these stories. And I think with the changing map of the Internet, people can just put content out there. There's less gatekeepers. It's really encouraging for people who want to tell stories."
While Calling Extra is about a 13-year-old girl, and written for a younger audience, Romero was reluctant to slap age limits on the book. "I just say '10 and up,' because I think every age can enjoy this story," she declares. "It's a coming of age story. We've all been there. And now with Harry Potter and the Twilight series and The Hunger Games, I don't feel that there is an age limit on books anymore. All ages can really enjoy stories if they're written well."
Having moved to the suburbs of Virginia with her husband, Dan, and her baby boy, Romero has no regrets about leaving Hollywood behind. "For me, getting married and deciding to have a family and figuring out the priorities in life, it sort of changed the direction of my career," she confesses. We went back to visit L.A. recently, and it's just such a different place out there."
Romero has stayed in touch with ATWT castmates like Terri Conn (Katie) and Lesli Kay (Molly), and even got to see her former on-screen mom during her trip to California. "Lesli is doing something very interesting," the actress-turned-author reports. "She's going to school to be a surgical technician's assistant. It's awesome! I'm so happy for her. It's hard for people to wrap their mind around, that you're an actress and then you go and do something else completely different, and it's just as fulfilling."