Today, we have a super special guest with us.
She’s the amazing Tess Campbell, the woman who compelled author Liza O’Connor to sit and write her story.
Vivi: Hi Tess, and thank you for being here with us today
Tess: I don’t normally talk to strangers about my life, but Liza swears you won’t twist my words.
V: I will not, I promise. Does that happen to you often, having your words twisted?
T: Yea, it comes with being a ‘Mafia Princess’. Everyone thinks I’m clueless and my father buys me whatever I want…which is totally NOT the truth.
V: What is the truth?
T: I’ve lived with Gram since my father kicked me out of the house when I was sixteen. My father, who is a mafia Don in Iowa, told me I had to marry a Mafia Don in Chicago. I told him I wouldn’t, and if he tried to force me, I would sue for emancipation. So he threw me out of his house and told me to see how I enjoyed living on the streets with nothing to eat.
V: Talking about harsh. What did you do?
T: I hitchhiked to La Mott and walked up a really tall hill to ask a woman I’d never met to take me in.
V: Your grandmother?
T: Yes. All I knew about her was that my father hated her. But that gave me hope she’d take me in.
V: Did she?
T: With open arms. And for the next six years she taught me everything she knew about forestry. She also helped me become a better person. I owe everything to her.
V: So, thanks to your grandmother, you’re happy with your life now.
T: I am, as long as the rest of my family leaves me alone.
V: Your job is tending to your Grams’ woods, which soon will become a park. Were you angry when she sold the woods to Meg instead of leaving it to you?
T: I was shocked when she first told me her intentions, but she feared my father would torture me into giving him the forest if she left it to me.
V: She didn’t mean actual torture, did she?
T: My father murdered my mother just so he could have a new wife already pregnant with his first son. Women don’t count for much in his view. So torturing me until I signed over the forest so he could get four billion dollars’ worth of lumber wouldn’t give him a moment’s hesitation. Fortunately, Megan gave the forest to the state of Iowa with the stipulation that it remain in perpetuity as a state park, and that once I received my master’s degree, I would be in charge of the park for as long as I wish.
V: That must have been a relief! You had, and are having, a very… unusual life. Have you ever thought it would be made into a book?
T: Yes, but I didn’t expect anyone to tell the real story. I expected it to be all lies.
V: I gather honesty is the thing you value the most.
T: Yes, because it’s so very rare.
V: So you never lie?
T: Oh, no, I do lie. Actually, most conversations with my father are lies. I tell him what he wants to hear.
V: Have you ever found someone you could trust, besides your Grandma?
T: Megan, the lady who bought my Gram’s forest, has truly impressed me with her smarts and her honesty, and she’s so brave even when people are trying to kill her.
V: And what is it you despise the most?
T: The willingness to do anything to anyone to achieve your objective. My father is like that. He has no boundaries he will not cross.
V: On a little lighter side. Your thoughts on love?
T: I don’t believe in love and I don’t trust men. They all lie and some of them kill. I realize I have trust issues, but I have good reasons.
V: You sure do. Your greatest extravagance?
T: I bought a used Range Rover once, but the damn bear, Grumpy, peeled the doors and rolled it down the hill.
V: Quirky habits?
T: I’m not aware of any.
V: What is in your refrigerator right now?
T: Healthy food. Grams is very strict about only eating healthy food.
V: Favorite dish?
T: Salmon on a bed of greens.
V: The perfect night out.
T: I never go ‘out’.
V: Like, ever?
T: Nope. I’ve never had a date in my life. I just work in the woods from sun up to sun down. Then Gram home schooled me in the evenings when I was younger.
V: If you had one wish granted, what would it be?
T: I would have Grams live forever. Grams is everything I someday hope to be.
V: You met your grandmother when you were a young adult. Your first thought and impression when you first met her.
T: When I first came to her house, I thought of her as only the enemy to my enemy. I had no idea how her bond of love would change me —all for the better.
V: That is a beautiful thought to say goodbye to. Thank you for stopping by! You can catch Tess’ story in Unexpected Love, Book 2 of the White Oak Mafia Series.
Here’s a little blurb.
Tess Campbell is a mafia princess who wants nothing to do with her dangerous family. She’d rather spend her life making Grams’s forest the best state park in Iowa.
Alistair Castile, aka Steel, is a British prince, his archeological career in ruins due to his promiscuous nature. He’s hired on as forest manager of Tess’s woods and quickly falls in love with the charming young woman, so different from the socialites of his world.
Only there are several serious barriers between them: Steel’s career cannot withstand another scandal and Tess’s father will kill anyone who gets in the way of his daughter marrying a Chicago mobster.
You can find Tess’ story clicking HERE.
And if you want to know more about Liza O’Connor, click HERE for her website.