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Interview: Christine Hurley Deriso

Swinging by WORD today is Christine Hurley Deriso, author of Then I Met My Sister!

Summer Stetson lives inside a shrine to her dead sister. Eclipsed by Shannon's greatness, Summer feels like she's a constant disappointment to her controlling, Type A momzilla and her all-too-quiet dad. Her best friend Gibson believes Summer's C average has more to do with rebelliousness than smarts, but she knows she can never measure up;academically or otherwise.

On her birthday, Summer receives a secret gift from her aunt; Shannon's diary. Suddenly, the one-dimensional vision of her sister becomes all too solid. Is this love-struck, mom-bashing badass the same Shannon everyone raves about? Determined to understand her troubled sister, Summer dives headfirst down a dark rabbit hole and unearths painful family secrets. Each revelation brings Summer closer to the mysterious and liberating truth about her family,and herself.

I had tons of fun interviewing Christine. We got to talk about inspiration for her novel, her kids, and foods to build houses out of.

You know the routine - just click Read More to check out the interview!

Nicole: Welcome to WORD, Christine! What inspired you to write Then I Met My Sister? When did the idea come to you?
Christine Hurley Deriso: My daughter was dealing with some typical but tough teenage issues. The more she was struggling, the harder it was to write. But that's when the book really soared. At one point when I was writing it, she convinced me to parasail, telling me I shouldn't live my life in fear. Like that parachute, the book lifted me into higher and scarier altitudes than I'd ever encountered, but, oh, the view was breathtaking.

N: You describe Summer's mom as a 'momzilla.' Do you know any?
CHD: Yes, but my mom is actually the anti-momzilla. She's unconditionally loving, very open-minded and whole-heartedly accepting of my choices. She never used guilt or manipulation to try to get her way. When I wrote Susanne's character, I thought, "What would Mom do?" Then Susanne would do the opposite.

N: Your mom sounds like my mom: totally awesome. Why does Summer get the diary as a gift from her aunt instead of, say, finding it lying around?
CHD: I wanted her aunt to be a sounding board and a reference point. The book helped them bond, and I thought that relationship was very important to the story.

N: If you could choose anybody to play Summer, who would you choose? Shannon?
CHD: OK, this is a totally biased answer, but my daughter portrayed Shannon in my book trailer, and my son's girlfriend, Taylor, portrayed Summer. They were fantabulous, if I do say so myself. I could totally see either one of them on the silver screen.

N: What do you think of the cover?
CHD: Love it, love it, love it. Eerie, transcendent, mysterious, beautiful ... perfect. (Thanks, Flux!)

N: You have a daughter, Julianne - who was in the trailer! - and a son, Greg. What do you do for fun with them? (My mom, personally, loves movies.)
CHD: We love movies, too! We like to deconstruct them, make fun of them, poke holes in the plot, talk about how we could make them better ... typical obnoxious movie-goers. We're music lovers, too. Julianne has close to perfect pitch, and Greg is a fantastic guitarist. (Wish you could hear him play "Blackbird." Just sublime.) Greg and I love tennis, too. Julianne? Not so much.

N: Sounds like your son would get alone well with my brother. Music obsessed? Beatles fan? Haha! If you had to build a house out of a food item, what food item would you choose?
CHD: Beets. That way, I would never be tempted to eat my house.

N: Ooo. Good answer. And ew. What is your dream vacation?
CHD: The beach, any beach, with my family and my Kindle.

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Interview: Christine Hurley Deriso + TIME