Spotlight & Giveaway: Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Posted August 7th, 2016 by in Blog, Spotlight / 54 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Renee Carlino to HJ!

From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino, a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.


Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Swear-on-This-LifeSWEAR ON THIS LIFE is a novel about a struggling writer, Emiline, who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel. The novel is patterned after her own traumatic childhood in rural Ohio, the pain she endured and the boy she was forced to leave behind.

Please share the opening lines of this book:

In class we say, “That’s too on the nose,” when someone has written a story or a scene where exactly what you think should happen, does happen. Or when the events are too perfect or precise. But in real life we have a hard time recognizing serendipitous moments because we’re not making the story up as we go along.


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

A few fun facts about the book are that I based the location on a rural area near where I grew up, but changed it from California to Ohio. Also, Emiline lives in La Jolla, one of my favorite areas in San Diego. Emiline’s name is a variation of a friend’s daughter’s name.

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Emiline has low self-esteem but she is smart and determined to succeed. Once she is able to deal with the pain in her past and appreciate the gifts she has, she begins to see the world differently. Jason was always described as being insightful and introspective from a young age and that doesn’t change after he grows up. I saw Jason as a character who knew something profound and meaningful about life that he was able to teach Emiline. I also thought his playfulness was a sign of confidence and self-awareness. Emiline as the protagonist didn’t surprise me, but she is probably the least like me than any of my characters in prior books even though she’s a writer. We share some parallels but she is the type to run from her problems and I’m not like that at all.


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

Some of the book takes place when Jason and Emiline are children but if I had to pick a scene of them as adults, I would probably choose the first time they see each other after a decade. Here’s a snippet…

With my head down, I continued to move with the line until the last woman in front of me was standing at his table. I kept my distance and looked at the shelf to my right until I heard him say to the lady, “It’s so nice to meet you, thank you for coming.”

When I looked up, he was standing, staring right at me, but his face gave nothing away. I took three hesitant steps toward him until we were standing directly across from each other. A beautiful woman, dressed in stilettos and a pencil skirt, stood behind him, just off to his left. She was staring at me the same way with an impassive poker face.

He blinked. I blinked. There was silence.

“Jason,” I finally said.

“Emiline,” he said.

Screw you and your smooth voice.

The woman behind him sauntered up to the table. “Did you want to buy a book, sweetie, and have Mr. Colby sign it for you?”

Without taking his eyes off me, he responded. “I’ve got this. Can you give me a minute, Andrea?”

She shook her head and then walked away. I couldn’t find my voice. He crossed his arms over his chest and rocked back on his heels. His lips were flat, his expression inscrutable, but his eyes were probing mine for something, some clue, some tell.

“Why?” I said.

He grinned. What the hell?

“Don’t smile at me,” I shot back.

He jerked his head back and scowled. Did he not understand why I would be angry?

“Why,” I repeated, but couldn’t find the right words to continue.

“Why, what?” Now he looked confused.

“Why on Earth did you lie?” I said, finally.

Something happened in his eyes, and then his expression went back to that same inscrutable look. “It’s a work of fiction, Emiline. Did you not read the disclaimer on the copyright page?” He looked past me toward the door, indifferent, like he wanted to leave.

Don’t cry, Emiline. It’s not your fault he grew up to be an asshole.

“What did you do to us?” My voice broke. “What have you done?”

“Did you read the book?”

“I read enough.”

“Why didn’t you finish it? That’s not like you.”

“You don’t know me anymore, Jason.” He winced. “I haven’t seen or heard from you in twelve years.”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I think a big theme in the book is that things can happen to us that are out of our control but there are also things we can choose to accomplish in our lives. This book is about knowing what is right for us and not running away out of fear that we will lose it, be it love or a good job or just general happiness.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?

I am currently working on my next two novels: Lucian Devine and Wish You Were Here.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Print copy of SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renée Carlino


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Do scenes in books ever make you cry and, if so what was the most heart rending scene you’ve read?

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Book Info:

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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Meet the Author:

Renee CarlinoRenée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, and Before We Were Strangers. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. To learn more, visit
Website | Facebook | Twitter |





54 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino”

  1. isisthe12th

    Yes, I have cried while reading books. Probably the top reason is loss of life and or love. Thank you

  2. katielowden

    I think the most I cried was reading Bright Side- Kim Holden. The whole book just felt so real and had such real scenarios in it. Thanks so much for this chance. I absolutely love Renee’s book and can’t wait for this!

  3. Lacey Thach

    I recently read It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover and the scene at the hospital at the end had me in tears. So much heartbreak!

  4. Hadassah

    Many times, yes. The most recent I can think of was . . . Under a Million Stars by Rita Branches. The ending had me sobbing in the middle of the night. <3

  5. Mary Preston

    I do cry when reading, but it is rare. The last book that made me cry was THE BOOK THIEF.

  6. Charlene E

    Oh, I’m definitely a big crier when it comes to books! I think *that* scene in Bright Side by Kim Holden was a pretty tough one to get through.

  7. Juli Hall

    Yes, when the heroine dies of cancer, I’m not naming the book since I hate spoilers

  8. Erika

    I cry if I’m really invested in a book and its characters. I cried reading Taking Chances by Molly McAdams.

  9. Mary C.

    So many scenes – one would be Will ‘s letter to Louisa in ME Before You by Jojo Moyes.

  10. glam009

    Yes some book make me cry the first book that make me cry, when I was a little girl and read Ana Frank Diary…
    And I cry when the scene is really heartbreaking….

  11. Rebecca Moore

    Books make me cry all the time! The hardest sobs have probably been from Looking for Alaska, Dobby’s death in Harry Potter (really, most of the deaths in those serious), or the second book in the Inkheart series–I don’t even remember much about the scene, only that there was ugly crying involved.

  12. swbookworm

    Books make me cry. Especially this passage: “How the hell am I supposed to say goodbye to her tonight, knowing I’ll never talk to her again?”
    ― Colleen Hoover, November 9

  13. Patricia B.

    I have cried often reading books. I cried throughout the last chapters of Impatient with Desire: The Lost Journal of Tamsen Donner by Gabrielle Burton. It is a fictionalized account of the Donner party from the viewpoint of the leader’s wife. It was hard to finish the book knowing I was going to lose a character that “had become a friend.”

  14. Katie Lowden

    The only time I was super emotional was when I read Bright Side. It had so many emotions and true scenarios. Thanks so much, I love Renee’s books and can’t wait to read this!!

  15. Mood Reader

    Yes, they do. A lot. When some beloved character dies, mostly. Or when characters are going through something I went through.

  16. Kim Brewing

    The Reluctant Dom, The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller, The Final Piece and Desperately Seeking Epic all made me cry when a character died, but I loved all those books

  17. Artemis Giote

    Yes, many times. The last book that made me cry was One day by David Nicholls. The love story in this book is tragic, gripping and sure to make you cry toward the end.

  18. Natasha Persaud

    Yes I just finished reading There is No Light in Darkness by Claire Contreras and that book made me cry so hard

  19. Banana cake

    I think I have only cried reading a book, it was I want to hold your hand by Marie Force and in the first chapter she is sitting with her dog when it dies. When I read that I had put my dog down because he was in so much pain from cancer.

  20. hdeeswan

    There have only been a handful of books that have made me cry! A thousand boy kisses by Tillie Cole was one. Usually death scenes get me! Thanks!

  21. Amy Rickman

    I rarely cry but I have cried when reading Nicholas Sparks and I always seem to cry when reading Perfection by RL Mathewson (I read it about 5 times and always cry).

  22. Maria Malaveci

    Yes there have been many books. One I really remember is The Bronze Horseman books. Cried at many different scenes

  23. kermitsgirl

    Yes, there are several that have had me in tears. One that I often go to is Tender Is The Knight by Jackie Ivie – there is a situation towards the end when the hero is very uncaring towards the heroine while breaking down in private due to misunderstandings on both parts, and it’s heartrending what both of them are going through.

  24. rachael constant

    all the time! its embarrassing when someone asks you whats wrong and you have to tell them a book made you cry.

  25. Terrill Harris Rosado

    There have only been a few books that have made me cry. Most recently, One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid had me sobbing from midpoint on. I don’t want to give away anything for those who haven’t read it, yet.

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