Today’s guest is fantasy author Terri-Lynne DeFino! Check out all her writing insights as well as her recipe for her favorite comfort food…
1. First things first… a name and bio:
Terri-Lynne DeFino is a fantasy writer living in rural New
England; her debut novel Finder was published by Hadley Rille Books, November 2010. She attended the 2006 Viable Paradise X workshop, where she studied with Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Laura Mixon, Steven Gould, Debra Doyle,James Macdonald, James Patrick Kelly, and Cory Doctorow. Currently living in rural Connecticut with her family, her cats, and the various magical creatures that end up in her stories, or on her walls, you can find follow her at her blog.
2. Where are you from and what’s your favorite thing about where you live?
I am originally from Paterson, NJ; and as any native New Jerseyite can tell you, once a Jersey girl, always a Jersey girl. Now I live in Connecticut. If NJ is the home of my heart, Connecticut is the home of my soul. The Housatonic River runs through my back yard; the scent of it, the sound of its rushing is in every moment. Mountains and woods all around me, no neighbors but the raccoons and deer—bliss. But I think the best part about living where I live is that, rural as it is, I’m only minutes away from the world of grocery stores, shopping malls and every convenience I could possibly need; and getting to NYC is only an hour and a half in the car. Best of both worlds! Now if only I could figure out how to move this all closer to the ocean…
3. Tell about your latest book. What made you want to write it?
A Time Never Lived (May 25th from Hadley Rille Books) is a sequel to my first novel, Finder. It starts off two years after Finder ends, with Ethen’s son, Victorio. There are dragons in this one! Go here to find out more: http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com/p/forthcoming-titles-by-three-with-eyes.html
I did not write ATNL because it is the sequel to Finder, strangely enough; I wrote it as a sort of sympathetic magic for Finder. The story began stewing in my head while writing, and not knowing if I would ever sell, Finder. After I finished the first book and sent it out into the world, I was itching to start something new. I had two stories to choose from. One very tempting, brand new world of characters and cities and cultures; the other in the world I knew so well, and loved so much, using characters I’d barely gotten to know in Finder. I consulted my husband, ever my sounding board, and told him: “If I write the sequel and the first never sells, I’ve wasted not only the year it took to write Finder, but another year writing A Time Never Lived.” He asked which I wanted to write more and, being still one foot in that world, I wanted to write ATNL—“but…what it?” My husband said, “You have to believe Finder is going to sell. If you don’t, it won’t. Write A Time Never Lived.” So I did. A few weeks after starting it, I sold Finder to Hadley Rille Books. The rest, as they say, is history.
4. Where can people find your books?
Finder can be found in many libraries, or can be ordered through most local bookstores.
ATNL will also be available through any of the the following vendors:
5. What are you working on right now?
At this very moment, I am working on Beyond the Gate, a novel that takes place in the same world as Finder and ATNL, but hundreds of years later and in an entirely different part of it. It is the journey of a warrior with bloody secrets, a young woman betrayed, and all of Beyond to travel through if they ever want to see home again.
I am also working on Ritual Born, the new world/culture/characters I didn’t choose after finishing Finder. What happens to the gods when there are no believers left to worship them? Bad things, that’s for certain.
6. What inspired you to be a writer?
I can’t say that there was anything that inspired me to write. As most writers will answer, I simply did. Some kids play baseball, some play the flute, some are mathletes; I’ve been a writer since those first stapled together pages I put together as a seven-year-old. What has kept me going, striving, working and writing is love, pure and simple. If it’s not about the love, it’s not about anything.
7. Who is your favorite character in your stories? Why?
Egads…a favorite character. Well, I love Ethen Finder, my eternal dumb-a**, and Zihariel, my enslaved musician from Finder. I love Wait, my noble, bloody warrior in Beyond the Gate. I love Myrie and Quin from A Time Never Lived, but if I have to choose an all-time favorite character, it would be Jigger, an anti-hero character from a book that will never see the light of day. Jigger is a legionnaire, an assassin, an all-around bad guy. He’s also the best redemption character I’ve ever written. I am a HUGE sucker for redemption. It always plays a part in my stories. He comes from a time I was just learning how to weave those threads of story into a viable novel; he, more than any character, taught me how to do so. Though the books he lives in won’t ever be published, I may have to give him his own—one of these days.
8. What is your favorite comfort food?
Ok, this is a dirty secret, because I’m a really good cook. Really good. My family eats like they live in a restaurant. My comfort food? Spaghettio’s out of a can with a hotdog cut up into it. Not the kind that already has hotdog in it, but a hotdog I add myself—because it has to be a Thuman’s hotdog. Even in my grossness, I’m discerning.
9. What character from your stories was the hardest to write?
That’s a question I dread answering, because my answer has to come across as arrogant. The fact is, I’ve never had a hard time writing any of my characters. I know them all intimately, because they are all, in some aspect, me—and I am an expert on ME.
I do, however, and in my opinion, write better male characters than female. I’ve been told I have the mental mindset of a nineteen year old boy. I’m inclined to agree.
10. What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer?
The biggest challenge about being a writer is marketing. No matter who you are, who you’re with, big house or small press, marketing is a real part of any writer’s life. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would have to work after my book was published. Blogging and signings and conventions and panels and guest posts and Facebook and on and on and on—sounds exciting, right? It is. It’s a lot of fun. But it takes a good portion of what used to be writing time to do these things. Finder took me nine months to write. A Time Never Lived took eighteen. I know you’re writers but, do the math.
11. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Do it for the love. To write for any other reason than the love of it sets most writers up for some real heartache. Few of us in the field get rich off our novels. Slightly more than those few will actually be able to earn a decent living. That sounds really pessimistic, but it’s actually the opposite. Here’s the thing—very few writers will ever be able to quit their day jobs. We are teachers, copyeditors, journalists, lawyers or whatever else pays the bills. If you write for the love, it shows. If you write for the love, it never loses its luster. If you write for the love, all the rest that comes to you—whether publishing with a small press or selling the movie rights to your trilogy—is gravy.
12. Who are your favorite authors and why?
That’s a hard one. How does one choose out of a field so vast? I suppose if I have to choose favorites, they are Jane Yolen, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Patricia McKillip. These are storytellers, not just writers. They take that extra step to weave words into something magical without ever calling attention to themselves. Their styles are quite different. McKillip is more whimsical. I feel like everything she writes is whispered right into my ear. Kay writes with guts, Yolen writes with heart. All three writers evoke folklore, whether their own or borrowed, to tap into that collective consciousness we all took with us from bonfires and hearthfires in our pasts.
13. What books have most influenced your writing?
Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay. It taught me that good and evil depends upon whose eyes one is looking out of. That is the only one I have ever been able to pinpoint and say it has influenced me. I never write anything that doesn’t recall that lesson.
14. What tools are in your writer’s tool-kit?
Took-kit? There’s a tool-kit? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me there was a stinking tool-kit?? Ok, for real, my tool-kit consists of very few things: A computer, time, and determination. I write every day, five days a week. No excuses. No noodling around on the computer and then complaining that I have no time to write in. Butt in chair, fingers to keyboard. DO IT. End of story.
15. Where can people find out more about you and your books/stories?
My blog, http://bogwitch64.livejournal.com/ , our official Hadley Rille Books site http://hadleyrillebooks.com/ and http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com/ a blog I keep with sisters in Hadley Rille Books, Karin Gastreich and Kim Vandervort.
16. What question(s) did I forget to ask?
You forgot to ask me if I like chocolate. The answer is yes.
If you are a writer interested in participating in Writer Wednesday, please send an email with a short biography to ww (at) ambersistla (dot) com.