Thursday, February 21, 2013

Interview: TJ, Anna and Ben from On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

"Thank you so much for inviting us into your home, it is absolutely beautiful! I’m Lisa and this is Jennifer and Kristie. We're the Three Chicks and it is very nice to meet you." Anna leads us to their screened in back porch, it's welcoming and cozy. We arrive at a table that has a pitcher of iced tea and some glasses. T.J offers us each a glass and Anna starts filling them. "That’s really good iced tea, thanks.  Let’s get started, shall we?"

Three Chicks:  How old are your kids now? Is the newest addition a boy or girl? What's the baby's name?

Anna:  The twins are about to turn two and Piper is coming up on 7 months.

Three Chicks:  Ben, are you still seeing Stacy? Any wedding plans?

Ben:  I am. And we're engaged. Stacy is trying hard not to become Bridezilla.

Three Chicks:  Anna, you have a great relationship with your in-laws. Do you think they have any lingering reservations about the age difference between you and T.J.?

Anna:  My in-laws are wonderful people. If they have any doubts they don't show them. They genuinely want T.J. to be happy.

Three Chicks:  Why did you nickname one of your children, T.J.III,- Mick? What is it about the pilot's memory that you wanted to honor him?

T.J. - Well, it helps to use a nickname when two people have the same name. My own parents figured that out when I was younger. And Anna and I like honoring Mick's memory. He did everything in his power to try and land that plane safely and he died in the process. He was a great guy.

Three Chicks:  Anna, do you think you will ever relax about T.J.'s health?

Anna:  I do worry about T.J.'s health but we both have the mindset that living in the moment is more important. We try not to worry about things that are out of our control. I just keep kissing his neck so if I do notice a lump, T.J. can bring it to his doctor's attention right away.

Three Chicks:  When you were on the island and T.J. was trying to catch a shark, you found 
yourselves in trouble. What was the significance of your relationship with the school of dolphins that protected you?

T.J. - I'm not sure there was any significance, but we did have a bond with those dolphins and they've been known to protect swimmers from sharks. I think they reacted instinctively but also wanted to help their "human" friends.

Three Chicks:  T.J., what were your thoughts after your first time with Anna? (Kristie blurts out, “He was thinking, hell ya! I mean come on, look at the both of them, how could they not be attracted to each other and not be horny?” Both Jen and Lisa are cracking up)

T.J.:  Well there definitely was some of that. I mean, come one. She's beautiful and kind and at that point she was my best friend. I'd wanted her for quite a while. But I was mostly glad she didn't freak out and slap me. She could have very easily told me that us being together was never going to happen.

Three Chicks:  Anna, how awesome that you took T.J. to see your manicurist, Lucy, on the day of your wedding. Was that because she always asked when you and John would marry?

Anna:  Yes. It was my way of letting her know that I did get married (and also a way for me to show off my wonderful new husband).

Three Chicks:  Anna, do you enjoy celebrating birthdays now? Are your favorite gifts still books and music?

Anna:  Yes and yes! T.J. does a wonderful job of making me feel special on my birthday. I still love books and music. T.J. frequently makes playlists for my iPod.

Three Chicks:  What do you think would have happened if you hadn't been rescued?

T.J.:  We would have died. Malnutrition will eventually kill you and we were already showing the signs.

Three Chicks:  Ben, what was it like for you those 3 years that T.J. was missing? Was there ever a moment when you started to give up hope that you would see your friend again?

Ben:  Well, I did give up hope. Like everyone else, I was certain he had died in the plane crash. I missed him terribly. It seemed unfair that he had beaten cancer but died young anyway. I was angry for a long time.

Three Chicks:  Anna, how do you think T.J. changed in those three years you were stranded, since he was just a kid in the beginning?

Anna:  T.J. was already a fighter, but in those three years he learned how to be a protector as well.

Three Chicks:  When the two of you were "together" for the first time, did you know then that you loved each other or was it more out of need and finding comfort in each other?

Anna:  At that point, T.J. meant so much to me, and he did give me comfort. I really felt like we cared for each other and we had formed such a bond.

T.J. - I'm not going to lie, there was quite a bit of lust involved. But I was already falling hard for Anna. I couldn't imagine being on that island without her.

Three Chicks:  Ben, what went through your mind when you found out T.J. was alive and coming home? Has your relationship changed in any way since he came home?

Ben:  Like everyone else, I was shocked. Our relationship has stayed pretty much the same. I felt like we picked right up where we left off and we're still a big part of each other's lives.

Three Chicks:  I would imagine that after living on an island for 3 years, the adjustment period after being rescued would be difficult. What was it like for the two of you and are you still adjusting in some ways?

Anna:  It was hard for us at first, but now I think we've pretty much acclimated to normal living. We still don't take things for granted, though. We appreciate every single thing we have, including each other and the kids.

 Three Chicks:  How is married life and the kids?

T.J.:  It's wonderful. We could have very easily not made it off that island so to have this life we have is kind of unbelievable.

Three Chicks: T.J. - How is your health?

T.J.:  It's great. No evidence of cancer.

Three Chicks:  Ben, what are you doing these days? Are you working construction? Where are you living? Do T.J. and Anna strong arm you into babysitting?

Ben:  I'm still living in the city. I work in a bank and wear a tie every day. T.J. gives me shit about it all the time. But I like it and I'm really good at my job.

Three Chicks:  When you were rescued and everyone learned of your relationship, you had to deal with the age difference and the remarks people were saying. Have people been more accepting of the relationship the two of you have since built?

T.J.:  I don't know if they're more accepting, but we're no longer in the headlines so people have moved on to the next supposed scandal.

Three Chicks: Do you regret that period after being rescued when you took time away from each other? Or did it only make your relationship stronger?

T.J.:   It was hard to be away from Anna, especially because I wasn't sure that we'd ever be together again. 

Anna:  It was so hard, but it was the best thing for us.

Three Chicks:  Given the way your relationship has turned out and knowing what you know now, if 
you could go back in time would you get on that plane again? (knowing that it would crash)

T.J.:  Well, that's a really big dilemma. What we went through was harrowing so I don't know that Anna or I could willingly get on that plane. We're glad we don't have to make those kinds of choices.

Three Chicks:  Ben, you tried to tell TJ he needed to get over Anna. What did you think of him giving up school, parties and girls to be with an older woman? (Jen states, “I thought it was every guy's dream to be with an older woman, both Lisa and Kristie giggle and wiggle their eyebrows, "We are at our sexual prime when we hit our thirty’s!”) And what do you think of their relationship now? You can be honest with us…..

Ben:  I didn't really understand what T.J. had with Anna at first. But then I realized it went much deeper than just something physical between them. Then I was jealous. Very, very jealous. Now Anna is someone who means a lot to me, too. But not in that way...

Three Chicks:  Have you been able to tolerate open fires (a romantic fire place, an open fire pit) or a nice lobster dinner since leaving the island? (Lisa says, “Making love in front of a fireplace rocks!- Sorry TMI”)

Anna:  We still hate fires!

Three Chicks:  So besides a dog, do the kids have any pets? How about a chicken, since the two of you were so fond of the one on the island? Wait- are you able to eat chicken?

T.J.:  We have four chickens. The kids love them. And we still eat chicken. It's complicated.

"Three Chicks and Their Books would like to thank you again for having us over. Anna and T.J., congratulations on your beautiful family and the wonderful life you both have built together," Jen says, as we head for the door. "Ben, it was a pleasure meeting you as well, you're a wonderful friend. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thanks and we hope to talk to you all again in the future."

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  1. Loooooove this interview. Those characters are the best, can't get enough of them, this book is just fantastic. I love it so much, wish I could read it for the first time several times (does that make sense? lol) the author is so sweet too :)

    1. We say the same thing! Whenever we finish a great book we always say that we wish we could read it for the first time again.

  2. This interview was so much fun to read!!! I am so excited that Tracey has more coming out this year:) Thanks for this awesome post.


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