Even though I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting writer, author and cat-wrangler, Terri-Lynne DeFino in person (hopefully I can rectify that soon), she has such a warm, friendly online personality I feel like I've known her for all my life.
Even though she's been running around like a mad thing, preparing for the official launch of her debut novel, Finder, she kindly agreed to stop by for a chat.
Tell us a little about Finder.
Finder started out with my husband’s uncanny ability to find any lost object. Anywhere. He once found his wedding band in the sand, an hour after we left the beach. I started thinking about how cool it would be to have that kind of magic. I gave this ability to Ethen—with a twist.
About that same time, I was listening to a history course on CD. I learned that during the Spanish Inquisition, the Sephardic Jews, forced to convert or get out of Iberia, made a tradition of keeping the keys to their homes and their business, as a show of faith that they would be back. That really touched me. I gave those keys to Zihariel.
As one of my blurbers said, Finder is as much about what happens after the adventure is over as it is about the adventure itself. What happens after the happily (or not so happily) ever after? Another adventure, of course.
Which came first, the title, Finder, or the story idea?
The story idea, definitely.
If the story idea came first, how many times did you change the title before you settled on the one you use now?
The story has been Finder since inception. It’s a working title that ended up sticking.
What’s your preferred genre/wordcount?
I write fantasy, about 130K words. When I write mainstream/contemporary it tends to be flash, under 500 words. And for some reason, almost always with a southern voice.
What’s your current WIP?
My current WIP is A Time Never Lived. Though it’s technically a sequel to Finder, both books stand on their own. They’re better if read together, but it’s not entirely necessary. Since I can’t tell you about it without giving away much of the story in Finder, we’ll leave it at that.
Are you a pantser or an outliner?
Well, until ATNL, I’d have said I’m a definite outliner. With this book, not so much! I started with an outline, but it wasn’t working at all, so I went back to page one and stumbled onto the road not taken, not even seen, during the prior effort. I do write notes as I go, but there is no outline but the one playing peek-a-boo in my head. I get a glimpse of it once in a while. I believe it smirks at me, but I can’t be certain.
What are your long term goals as a writer?
Long term goals? That’s a good question. I’m not sure I have them. I’m a “ride with the tide” sort of person. All I know for sure is that a year from now, five years from now, ten—I’ll still be writing.
Tell us about your very first sale.
Finder is it! I’ve had things published before, but never for actual money. I was admittedly apathetic about submitting things. I’m not a short story writer. Those I wrote found different sorts of homes. And though I made tentative stabs at publication/representation with prior novels, it was never with the kind of confidence I submitted Finder. I knew the manuscript was good (modesty is for suckers!) I knew Hadley Rille Books was the right publisher for it. It was a matter of right manuscript, right time, right publisher.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Ah, that’s easy. “Work on learning all you don’t know rather than focusing on the things people who have no idea what they’re talking about are telling you is right.” That is from Joshua Bilmes of the Jabberwocky Literary Agency, after he tore my manuscript to shreds. One day, I’m going to buy that man a beer!
What’s the worst?
It wasn’t so much advice as it was something someone once said to me: “You’re not a writer. You’re just someone who writes.” That’s a really rotten thing to say to someone, especially someone learning the ropes.
What was the last story/novel you pitched/submitted?
Hmmm…that would be Finder too!
What was the last story/novel you read?
Lavondyss, by Robert Holdstock. It’s the second book in the Mythago Wood Cycle. Incredible.
Do you belong to a writing/critique group? Why?/Why not?
I’ve tried writing groups. So far, I’ve had no luck with in-real-life groups; though I WILL try again and again, if given the chance. I am in complete support of a good, in person writing group. I am totally against bad ones, in any form.
Thankfully, I do have an AMAZING online group of friends I can always count on to be eyes on my pages.
Where can readers find your work?
Where on the web can you be found?
What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you first started writing?
You know, I always thought I’d have something wise and writerly to say to a question like this, but I don’t. There is no wishing to know, there’s only taking the journey. If I knew then what I knew now, the journey wouldn’t be any fun at all.
Is there’s anything I didn’t ask you, that you want to answer anyway?
I was hoping you’d ask about the time machine in my back yard, but I suppose that can wait for another time. It’s a long story anyway.
Who do you think would win in a fight, astronauts or cavemen?
Cavemen. The astronauts would be suffering from anti-gravity, all those atrophied muscles. They’d be toast….make that, squashed toast.
Terri-Lynne DeFino, alias lives quietly in rural New England with her cats, kids, and husband despite her delusions of being Empress of the Northern Hemisphere. In sane moments she is a writer, mother, cat-wrangler, sparklequeen, and occasional laundress. Her debut novel, Finder, is scheduled for release on November 12, 2010 from Hadley Rille Books.