Um…So guess WHAT!?!??!!?!?
Yes. That’s right. This IS an interview with the fabulously FINTATSTIC Tera Lynn Childs!!!!!!!
HOW cool is this?!?!?!?!!??? Um…yeah, pretty amazing!!!!!!!
I’ve loved Tera ever since I read Oh.My.Gods. And now she’s celebrating her THIRD novel and newest release Forgive My Fins!
Forgive My Fins is the story of Lily, a mermaid out of water, trying to get up the courage to talk to her soul mate. But before Lily gets the chance to talk to Brody, Lily suddenly finds herself entangled with the wrong guy and having everyone wonder what’s so wrong with that? You can check out my review here.
And while I could go on and on about Tera’s awesomeness, I think I’ll just let you read for yourself…
nymfaux: Congratulations on your release of Forgive My Fins, and your fantastic success!—What have you been doing to celebrate?
Tera Lynn Childs: I've been in
for the summer (which is not a celebration, trust me). My parents teach a program in technical theatre and my dog and I came out to hang with them. On the night of my release we were still in Las Vegas and we went out to dinner with friends at a restaurant that used to be called Granny Had One (I don't know what it's called now). We accidentally stole a bouquet of flowers. Oklahoma
nymfaux: I keep seeing people ask about why you chose mermaids, and I loved what you said on your Supernatural Underground post, “Why not mermaids?” Frankly, I too had the childhood dream of being a mermaid, so as soon as I heard about Forgive My Fins, I was pretty jumping-up-and-down excited to see it! And from the other posts and comments I’ve been reading, I’m not the only one.
—What kind of reaction did you get when you first pitched the story? Have the reactions changed? Have they surprised you?
TLC: When I first pitched the idea to my agent four years ago (along with another unwritten project) she said, "I LOVE THEM! I want you to write both!" And then when my editor asked me to write something outside the Oh. My. Gods. series she was like, "I hear you have a mermaid book proposal..." So the response has always been positive, and I don't think that's changed. I am surprised by how many other mermaid-lovers are out there. And I thought I was all alone!
nymfaux: Everyone seems to agree on the awesomeness of your book—Why do you think, “FINTASTIC” hasn’t caught on as a catch-phrase?
TLC: Good question. Let's work on that. Between us and your blog readers I'm sure we can make fintastic the new awesome.
nymfaux: I have to tell you how much I love hearing new, unique names; I was wondering how you pronounce “Prithi,” the cat’s name? Does it have any special meaning?
TLC: Well, I'm sure I pronounce it wrong, but when I say it Prithi rhymes with with-ee. I remember researching it, looking for some kind of mythological/goddess cat name to use, but I don't remember exactly where I found it. I think it's short for a longer name.
nymfaux: Lily, Quince, and Dosinia (and Prithi) are all pretty unique names; do you have a go-to source for names? Do you come upon them in your research and work them in? Do they just pop up when you create the characters?—Or a combination?
TLC: Lily came easily, because I wanted a water-related name that could also sound purely human (Waterlily/Lily). Quince, I think I almost used Quint, but that was too ordinary so kind of combined it with Vince. Dosinia and Peri(winkle) and Whelk and all the other merfolk names come from a field guide to sea life. They are all names for either plants or animals in the ocean. I usually try to make the name connect to the world of the story in that way.
nymfaux: Are there any real-life Brodys or Quinces out there that have inspired you?
Sigh. I guess I've known a few who were close approximations, but mostly they were either friends or crushes. Definitely a lot more Brodys on the crush side and a few Quinces on the friends side. But mostly they're just my ideal hero boys. As soon as I meet one in real life I'll let you know.
nymfaux: As a person who is usually drawn to the “tall/dark/handsome” type—which captures Brody—I was surprised and intrigued that you went blond for Quince, which (from what I usually read, anyway) is fairly uncommon—I know you’re a very visual person from your character collages; do you find the characters appear to you like a picture—Do you start building a character visually, or does the visual develop around the personality?
TLC: The collaging is actually hard sometimes because I usually have a pretty clear picture in my head and have to find someone to match that. I usually have the dark-haired hero boys (because I usually fall for the dark-haired real boys) but Quince was different from the start. I knew he had that dark blond hair (not pretty boy blond) I think to contrast with his dark image--the black leather jacket, the biker boots, the bike. If he'd had dark hair it might have been too much. And we find out very quickly that he's not really the dark bad boy he pretends to be.
nymfaux: While your own parents recently celebrated a milestone anniversary (Congratulations!!! That’s super-incredibly-awesome!!!!), many of your characters have lost, separated, or absent parents (Lilly, Quince, Dosinia from Forgive My Fins/Phoebe,
, Nicole, and Stella from Oh.My.Gods.) Griffin
—Is that a conscious reflection of today’s teens who come from a variety of different family backgrounds? Or part of a building device to drive the story forward? In the cases of Lily and Phoebe, the loss of one of their parents is a central point in both explaining where the girls are coming from and taking them to the beginning of their stories.
TLC: I think it's usually to drive the story, because what incites more change in a teen's life than losing a parent? I submitted a proposal to my editor a while back where the main character had lost both parents. She called me up and said, "What's with all the dead parents? I've met your parents, they're very nice." But I wouldn't make that choice if I didn't have to. It's just as easy to write an absentee/workaholic parent if it's not a critical element of the story.
nymfaux: I always feel like you have such an effortless way of telling your stories, are there any scenes that you had difficulty with?
TLC: There are two kinds of scenes which are really hard for me to write. 1) The kind where my main character is getting kicked in the butt emotionally. Like an actor playing a role, I kind of have to experience their emotional pain to get it right on the page. The almost end of Forgive My Fins was really tough. 2) The kind that connect two other moments/events, where sometimes I feel like I'm forcing things to go how I want them to go, instead of letting the characters take the lead. The moonlit scene on the beach in Goddess Boot Camp, after Phoebe outran the tide, was like that. I still feel like I could go back and tweak it a little more.
nymfaux: —I know you’ve called yourself a “pantser,” meaning that you write where the characters and the story takes you, but how complete is the overall idea while your writing it? Do you always have the ending or the basic concept of the story in mind while you’re writing it? Or are you totally at the mercy of your characters?
TLC: Now that I have an editor who wants to make sure I'm going the write direction before I write 60,000 words, I actually write a synopsis before finishing the book. Sometimes things change (like the end of Fins Are Forever changed so dramatically in the moment that I was afraid for my editor to read it) and that's what keeps it honest. When I am pantsing, though, it's more like I know where I am in the current scene and I know where I vaguely going in the future. But in Oh. My. Gods. and Goddess Boot Camp there were scenes where Phoebe was running, either alone or with
, and I'm like, "Something more than just running has to happen in this scene." That's when new plot twists usually pop up. Sometimes, I'm totally at the mercy of my characters. In Goddess Boot Camp I had NO IDEA who was sending the anonymous messages until Phoebe turns around in the courtyard and thinks, It's the last person I ever expected to see. And I'm like, "Who, Phoebe?!? Who is it?" Griffin
nymfaux: This is your third novel; has it gotten easier? Has the process changed much for you? Is there anything you learned from writing Oh.My.Gods. that you take with you to your current/future projects—Or something that you’d learned when you had finished, that would have been helpful to know when you started?
TLC: It's gotten harder. With every book I learn a little more, I become a better writer, which raises the bar on the next book. Now I know I can't repeat my mistakes from the first few books, which means I'm only making new ones. The lens keeps refocusing. I learn how to correct the big mistakes, so next time I make medium-sized ones. Now I can fix the medium mistakes, so I see a million small ones. It's like fractals, every time you zoom in you see the same thing on a smaller scale. I hold out hope that eventually I'll see them all, but I'm pretty sure that's an impossible dream.
nymfaux: You’ve got several projects in the works (yea!); do you work on more than one at a time? Is it hard to prioritize when you have a really good idea for one story and a deadline for another?
TLC: always think I can work on more than one thing, but it never seems to work out that way. Usually I'll be working on a project and then have to set it aside for revisions/copyedits/page proofs on another one. It is hard to prioritize, but the deadline always comes first. (Partly become the deadline comes with a paycheck. Mostly because it's professional responsibility.) It also helps to filter the ideas. If an idea won't leave my head the whole time I'm finishing up my deadline book, then it's a pretty good indicator that it's an idea worth exploring.
nymfaux: The release of Forgive My Fins coincided very closely with a major oil spill, obviously not something you planned. You very awesomely pledged a donation to Oceana (an ocean charity). Do you think this tragic incident will have an impact on any of your characters, or your writing?
TLC: Yes, that was an horrifically bad coincidence. The environment has a huge impact on the merfolk in Thalassinia and other mer kingdoms. I wouldn't use the oil spill in particular, because that would date a book too specifically, just like the earthquake in
or any other tragedy of international proportion. As a life-long environmentalist, though, I find myself working my ideals into my writing more and more. You will see in Fins Are Forever that life in the oceans is changing right along with the climate. Haiti
nymfaux: Aside from the release of your FINTASTIC new book, Forgive My Fins, I am a HUGE fan of the Oh.My.Gods. series—And I see people in chats and interviews asking you about it all the time—Everyone I know is looking forward to another O.M.G. book, but your publisher seems to be holding back; do you still feel the same pull to write more for those characters as your fans do to read them?
TLC: At the moment I feel a little distance from those characters, just because I haven't been in their heads for so long and because right now I'm focused on Lily and the gang. But, as I found out when I wrote the proposal my publisher is currently considering, your characters are your characters no matter how long you've been away. I still know them as well as I know myself, and they still have the ability to surprise and impress me. So, if I do get to write a third book in the series it will just feel like going home to hang out with old friends.
nymfaux: With everyone hoping for more Oh.My.Gods., a sequel to Forgive My Fins (Fins Are Forever), your untilted Medusa Girls Trilogy, and a top-secret RH project in the works…What are you most excited about???
TLC: My smart @$$ answer is always, "The next one." Whatever project is next on my list is always the most exciting, because it's still in that foggy realm where it promises to come out on paper perfectly realized to my every dream. As soon as I start writing, the flaws start to show, those tiny mistakes I never saw before start cracking the surface of the dream. But, all that aside, I am super-duper excited about the Medusa girls trilogy. Grace, Gretchen and Greer are three kick-butt sisters who are ready to take on an awesome adventure. I can't wait!
nymfaux: Is there any other news about your upcoming projects that we can share???
TLC: Nope, just more Secret Projects (there's IW and E and LB) that I can't (okay won't) say a word about yet.
nymfaux: On a personal note, I’d like to congratulate you on your recent decision to go vegan, to be healthier—And as a person who’s had a life-long battle with vegetables, I was wondering if you had any tips?—Have you always liked veggies? And how has the transition been? Are you fully acclimatized?
TLC: I hated veggies and I loved cheese with an unholy passion. But for all that the transition has been really easy. When I made the decision three months ago now, it felt like something I'd been waiting my whole life to do. (Just like when my dad decided to quit smoking after 40 years. He just ... quit.) All of a sudden I was eating more veggies, drinking water and tea and juice instead of soda, enjoying the process of cooking and creating recipes. It just all came together. I don't think I can offer any advice because you have to get to that place where the decision just makes sense. Oh, and eat lots of avocados. I'm kind of obsessed.
nymfaux: Hmmm…avocados? I will have to look into that…
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really want to thank Tera for her time and wish her fast typing and the greatest of successes!!!! Fins Are Forever is already on my wish list, and we can all use a little more TLC!!!! ;)