Welcoming Terri-Lynne DeFino Author of: Seeking Carolina

Author of:

Johanna Coco is finally home in Bitterly, Connecticut to attend her beloved grandmother’s funeral—only to be confronted by the very reason she’s stayed away to begin with—Charlie McCallan. Her high school sweetheart is now divorced, and no longer the skinny boy Johanna once loved. Hometown handsome and dependable as always, Charlie is the kind of man she needs to lean on as she and her sisters grapple with their grief—as well as the mystery of their long-missing mother, Carolina. But Johanna’s heart isn’t only haunted by her ghosts; it is haunted by what happened between her and Charlie…

Charlie is determined to do things right this time, and he has to do it before Johanna vanishes from his life again. First he needs to prove to her that the past is past, and they can overcome it—no easy task when he’s up against the ghosts lingering in her life, trying to convince her that happily-ever-after is not in the cards for any of the catastrophe-prone Coco sisters, least of all Johanna. But her fearless first love is ready to do whatever it takes to win her back—ghosts be damned.

Rad-Reader:  Why such a sensitive touchy storyline?

Terri-Lynne:  My life, in general, has been a bit of a soap opera. Boring, it has never been. I could draw from it for the rest of my career and never run out of material. More importantly, I feel the need to draw attention to things people don't generally like to discuss. If I do it right, it makes people think, and thinking is always a good thing.

Rad-Reader:  Has Mental Illness touched your life to give you such insight?  The emotions are so real and so true.

Terri-Lynne:  Mental illness touches everyone's life, whether they know it or not. I'm not one given to euphemisms, but mental "illness" is such a misnomer. What we call illness is part of being human for those labeled with it. That being said, yes, I've dealt with it in my life. Extensively.  Rad-Reader: Our three adoptive children do too.  Hard road to walk for all concerned.

Rad-Reader:  Did you come up with the family saga of sisters or did it pick you?

Terri-Lynne:  The Coco sisters came into being due to a writing prompt with my writing group, on Saturday morning. The prompt was: "Someone else gets what you wanted most in the world." Johanna was born right then, along with the locket she wanted, but was originally given to Nina, as the oldest. Johanna was a much angrier character back then! The story evolved into something much more than her wrangling that locket from her "undeserving" sister. Thank goodness.
Rad-Reader:  The mystery around that locket was totally the appeal of the story so glad it evolved into what it is now.

Rad-Reader:  Why didn’t Charlie fight harder or ask her what she was so angry over that night and thereafter when he found her on the side of the road?

Terri-Lynne:  (*I'm assuming you meant that night when they were teenagers?) Charlie was a kid, a confused kid. He thought he'd been a jerk, and didn't know how to apologize. When he saw her again after all those years, it wasn't going to be the first thing he brought up. 

Rad-Reader:  They were such good friends but she dumped him as a friend why would she not talk to him and explain why?

Terri-Lynne:  Johanna was afraid of what Charlie made her want, which was the real reason she ran away from him to begin with. Maybe, subconsciously, she didn't want to work things out. It was easier to let him go. Eighteen year-olds will do things like that. Some adults will too. I guess you should ask Johanna. :)

Rad-Reader:  Why did Charlie sleep with Gina if he loved Johanna so much?  Drunk is no excuse.

Terri-Lynne:  Things happen. He was hurt. Gina was young, impetuous, and willing. Sometimes hormones speak louder than love. A moment is all it takes. The point was, he lived up to his part in it, took responsibility.

Rad-Reader:  If Charlie and Gina were in it for the wrong reasons then why keep having children?  Birth control? It is 2015 gee whiz.

Terri-Lynne:  They kept having children for the same reason older couples in troubled marriages keep having children--because somehow it's going to fix things. Aside from Charlotte, all the kids were planned.

Rad-Reader:  I totally get Johanna’s fear, been there done that.  But she was upset with Charlie for being with Gina right?  Or was she mad at herself?

Terri-Lynne:  Was she upset with Charlie for being with Gina? Of course, but that really had nothing to do with why they didn't get back together. Gina becoming pregnant just made it "easier" for her to go away and stay away.

Rad-Reader:  What was the reasons she couldn’t come home in head and heart?

Terri-Lynne:  Bitterly came with too many ghosts. Being in Bitterly reminded her how happy she had been there, and that it was because her parents were gone that she was. What happened to Julietta and Emmaline proved that life would have been a horror show no child should endure. The guilt of knowing she'd been happier without them overwhelmed. And then there was Charlie--the more she searched for who she was outside of Bitterly, the more she came to understand (like Dorothy in Oz) that she was looking in all the wrong places. Staying away, she believed, kept those demons at bay. Of course, it didn't.

Rad-Reader:  At one point Charlie Realizes he had only been existing.  Is that what Johanna was trying to come to terms with now that she’s home and missed 8 years of family?

Terri-Lynne:  Yes, exactly. They'd gone about it differently, but in the end, came to the same conclusion.

Rad-Reader:  What message were you hoping to convey with this story if any?

Terri-Lynne:  Life happens. We make choices. Sometimes they're right. Sometimes they're not. And sometimes they're right for the time being and ultimately turn out to be wrong. The message is, as long as there is breath in your body, it's never too late to right things.

Rad-Reader:  PTSD was so much on target when you wrote it and it pertained to the girls and what they lived through.  Did you do your research to find out this information?

Terri-Lynne:  This is a very personal subject for me. My son suffered from PTSD. I researched it for him, and ended up using that research in Seeking Carolina. 

Rad-Reader:   Who was your favorite sister?  Mine was Julietta she owned and wore her weirdness or differences well.  She had no false pretenses about it.  She accepted she was not the beauty of her sisters but was herself.  She was rewarded.

Terri-Lynne:  Julietta tends to be everyone's favorite sister. In truth, she's mine, too. I love all the Coco women, but Julietta is special. She knows she's "weird" and is okay with it. Her courage truly touches me.

Rad-Reader:  What song out today would you say best describes/reminds you of your book?

Rad-Reader:  Sam Hunt: Break up in a Small Town

Terri-Lynne:  It's only recently this song came to me as the one that reminds me most of Bitterly as a whole, and it's because I've now written four novels in that setting that it really rings true for me.  For some, it's home in a physical way. For others, in their hearts. It speaks from every character in all my books. Remember this one? From the series finale of Northern Exposure? Our town, by Iris DeMent.
Iris DeMent: Our Town

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you have play:


Charlie:  Alexander Skarsgard

Nina:  Victoria Smurfit

Emma:  Lacey Chabert

Julietta:  Katrina Law

Charlotte: Maia Mitchell

Terri-Lynne:  Great choices! I have to say, I've never really thought about this. Hmmm...let's see.

Johann:  Mila Kunis

Charlie:  Michael Weaver 

Nina:  Portia DeRossi

Emma:  Rachel McAdams

Julietta:  Audrey Tautou

Charlotte:  Emma Stone

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project?  When will it be coming out?

Terri-Lynne:  Dreaming August releases in April 2016. Set in Bitterly, it focuses on Dan Greene (remember the guy with the horse and carriage?) and Benedetta "Benny" Grady, another lifetime local.  Rad-Reader:  Read the Teaser at the end of "Seeking Carolina" and well can't wait to read it.  Intense.

Rad-Reader:  What do you like to do with you down time?

Terri-Lynne:  The usual--read. If I'm not writing, I'm reading. Go out for dinner and a movie with my husband. Sometimes, I just like to slug out in front of the television. Cooking shows. I love cooking competitions. I'm a really good cook. One day, I want to be on Chopped.

Rad-Reader:  If you could tell the young you anything what would it be?

Terri-Lynne:  Life is wonderful. Life is heartbreaking. You'll survive.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?

Terri-Lynne:  Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Google, Barnes & Noble. It can also be ordered through any book store. Ebooks or trade paperback. 
(if you need links, you can find them all here: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/31834

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers keep in touch with you? (Websites)

Terri-Lynne:  I keep a blog/website at: modestyisforsuckers.com
Modesty is for suckers--it's my life motto. I even have it tattooed on my arm.

Thank you for taking the time to be with us Terri-Lynne.  You are stuck with us now you are part of our crazy family.  Guess you didn't do your research before you agreed to do this interview.  We are happy but you might want to worry. :)
Thanks again,

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