Interview with Terri-Lynne DeFino
June 15, 2012 5 Comments
Out of all the writers I’ve met online, Terri-Lynne was one of the first who connected with me on other levels other than writing. She encouraged me with her sparkly comments (literally), and shared her wisdom with me on a whole variety of other subjects. She is truly a beautiful woman, and I am so happy to bring this interview with her.
1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
I am a “Jersey girl” born and bred; and it’s true, you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl. I escaped to Connecticut twenty years ago, and while I’ll never go back, I’ll never stray too far either. I write epic fantasy, with a bend towards magical realism, I’ve been told. I like stories behind the stories, so if there’s a war going on, you can be pretty sure I’m writing about the galley cook, not the ship’s captain who will probably be a woman.
2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
Like most writers, I’ve never not written. I’ve been a stay at home mother most of my life. Writing happened when the kids were napping. When the last started school, I had a choice–focus on writing and hope, or get a job that would pay me enough to give it right back to the government in taxes. The choice was pretty simple. So
I don’t think I was drawn to a career in writing; I just started doing it with all my heart, and the rest followed. After spending many years teaching myself what I needed to know (by critiquing others, for the most part) I wrote Finder, with the goal of submitting to and being published by Hadley Rille Books, a small press out of Kansas. It was a perfect fit. I’ve since become one of the fantasy editors for my press. Writing with all my heart resulted in a career–yeah, really.
3. Now that you’re one of the editors, do you find it harder to find the personal time to write?
Egads, yes! There are times I have to set aside my own writing to push an edit too close to deadline through. I have learned to plan for that, because writers are writers and very few will EVER get anything in short of last minute (because, let’s face it, nothing is ever perfect enough for us.)
That being said, I am one of those writers who gets her manuscript in well before last minute; and that comes from being an editor. A manuscript will never be overdue because of me. I know the chaos that causes in house.
I am one of those lucky writers who gets to write full time. I manage that time well, because squandering it would be a smack in the face to all those writers squeezing novels out of spare time. I don’t begrudge that time I take away from my own work to do the editing part of my gig, possibly because I love editing nearly as much as I do writing. Nearly.
4. What is the best thing you like about being a writer? The worse?
There are so many good things about being a writer, it’s hard to choose. Living inside one’s own head, creating worlds and characters and the circumstances of their lives–very godlike. But I think the best part of being a writer is the community, especially in my Hadley Rille Books family. Artists working together towards a common goal–it’s absolute bliss.
The WORST part of being a writer, for me, is the waiting. Waiting for acceptance/rejection, waiting for edits to come back, waiting for reviews, waiting for the book to come out, waiting to see the sales figures. WAITING!!! I’m not an impatient person, truly, but all the waiting really does get to me.
5. Have you ever thought about giving up? If you did, what changed your mind?
Honestly and truly? Never once. Just the thought of it gives me shivers–and not the good kind.
6. Tell us about your latest project.
My current project is actually the fourth book, The Shadows One Walks, set in the same world as Finder, A Time Never Lived, and Beyond the Gate (third book coming out in summer 2013.) You see, Finder’sworld is one modeled loosely after North Africa, and Southern Europe, most of the action taking place in the desert country of Therk. A Time Never Lived takes our heroes into the Dragonback Mountains in the east, a heavily wooded, largely uncharted area of that same world. Beyond the Gate would be the Australia of this particular world existing in my head–distant from the first two settings, but part of it, known to it. Then we come to The Shadows One Walks; it takes place in an as-yet unused part of Therk (Howling Coves) about a century after A Time Never Lived. Each book stands alone. Each book leaks a little bit into another, and another. You don’t have to read them all to get the story, but there is more of a story if you do. The Shadows One Walks is the tale of Calryan, the soul survivor of his small seaside village, of a tempest that decimated the island nation of Vales Gate; and of Fraeda, a young woman who makes her way in the world by collecting the last thoughts of the dying and selling them to the ones left behind. Their stories come together by way of the legendary Siren’s Curse, a pirate ship that rides above the waves on a spectral cloud of pilfered mist. The more I write this story, the more I love it. Ghosts and pirates, folklore come to life, altered time and the labyrinthine path to right it again–great stuff, if I do say so myself. And there’s love. There’s always love–because life doesn’t really exist without it.
7. What was your biggest influence for writing this story?
The biggest influence on my most current work is actually past work. I know the magic number is three, but for me, it always seems to be four. I have four kids, four cats, I am one of four siblings–it’s a number of completion for me. I actually wrote Beyond the Gate first, but it comes third in this series of books. As I did my revisions on it, I was also working on final revisions for A Time Never Lived. I saw so many little things overlapping, twisting together, making really awesome storylines even cooler when combined. They just worked together–and thus came The Shadows One Walks. I’ve always loved editing; when it can be combined with CREATING? It’s a beautiful thing.
8. As a reader, what are some things that attract you to a story?
I love a good adventure tale; one with lots of action and characters I can sink my teeth into. Beautiful writing is nice, but I can forgive a great story some less than elegant writing; I can’t seem to forgive a poorly told tale for the lovely words it’s told with. When a story has the ability to turn off my internal editor, it’s a big-time score.
9. What books (if any) have influenced you over the years?
Always first on the list is Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay. That book taught me more about writing and characterization than anything I’ve ever read. Best lesson: Good and evil depends upon the eyes one looks out of. It’s a great story. If you’ve not read it, you should! Also–anything by Patricia McKillip. The woman blends folklore and her own imaginings so intricately that there’s no telling which is drawn upon, and which is fancy. She, more than any other single writer, has influenced me as a writer, and a reader.
10. Most writers have manuscripts that will never see the light of day. Do you have a few of those or will they eventually come out?
I have twenty-two of them. Yup! Twenty-two complete novels–the shortest being about 90K words and the longest being well over 300K. They will never see the light of day. Ever. They are my education. I didn’t go to college. What I learned of writing I taught myself over years of trial and error, trial and triumph. I honor those old manuscripts for what they are, but I can see them clearly. In the trunk they stay!
For Fun Questions:
1. If you could be any breed of dog, what would it be? –greyhound. To be able to run that fast would almost be like flying.
2. Is there one food/beverage that you can’t live without? –Iced tea. I make a pitcher daily, and drink it as I write.
3. Bungee jumping: exhilarating hobby or death wish? –Well, I’ve a double-edged answer for that one: It’s an exhilarating hobby I, personally, would never take up!
4. What is your favourite movie? –The Princess Bride. It never gets old, never stops being funny, always makes me cry.
5. Question from Sithboy; If you were a Jedi, what colour would your lightsabre be; green, blue, yellow, red, or purple? –Purple, baby! If I’m fighting the baddies, I want them to know their opponent is STYLIN’!
If you would like more information about Terri or her books, please click the links below. She’d love to hear from you!