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19 August 2009

Toni Sweeney

Today's Guest of Honour is Toni Sweeney, Welcome Toni. Would you like to start as usual by telling us a bit about yourself?

TS: Let's see... I was born long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, and I've managed to survive through two centuries now.

Seriously, I'm a native-born Georgian and have lived in the Midwest, southern California, and am now back in the Midwest again. I muddled my way through college and earned a Bachelors degree in Fine Art (which has held me in good stead in my writing). I started writing while in college but didn't begin doing it seriously until I was in an auto accident and found myself fairly stationary for a very long time. I've eight novels in publication, and just as many stashed away in boxes under my bed, waiting to be revived and worked on. IN fact, I just signed a contract today with Class Act Books. That makes one less box under the bed!

HL: Oh congratulations Toni. I'm sorry to hear about the accident, but you turned a misfortune into something positive with your writing. Okay, tell us a little more about yourself

TS: Wow, when I'm put on the spot like this, I can't think of much. I'm an only child. (When I was born, my parents were so traumatized they couldn't bear to think they might produce another like me.) I like the color burgundy or variations of it, so much of my wardrobe is in shades of dark red or pink. I'm a Christmas baby and have two relatives and a friend who's also a writer who share that birthdate wi
th me. That makes me a Capricorn...solitary, stubborn, and talented (and totally unconceited!). I also like small, fuzzy dogs and once had five toy poodles, all at one time. I'm a cancer survivor--almost ten years now. Oh--I also like to garden, and make wine (although I'm 99% teetotaler.) Is that enough

HL: Crumbs, that's a real potted biography, LOL. I love burgundy too, and all purply shades. Five poodles all at once, *grin* that sounds a lot, even to me - and congratulations on beating the Big C, that's got to give encouragement to other sufferers. You certainly seem to live a full and very busy life - and you still manage tofind time to write! So what you do you do for fun when not writing?

TS: Writing is my life! (That's a great line, isn't it? Wish it were true.) Actually, I'm pretty much of a sedentary person (the auto accident, y'know.) I used to bike a lot (12 miles a day after work), and swim, and dance. Nowadays, I read continuously (and not my own writing). I like to do reviews of those books, posting them on amazon.com and on some websites where I blog, as well as on my own 'site. I watch television, especially the BBC channel. I like sci-fi and thrillers, whatever the SyFy and Chiller channels broadcast.

HL: Wow! When did you start writing?

TS: The day I learned how to form my first letter with a pencil! My parents had a friend who was an x-ray tech and she used to give me the paper that was placed between the radiographic sheets. They w
ere about 2'x18" and I'd draw pictures and captions under them. On my ninth birthday, I received a portable typewriter from parents and from then on, I typed my stories. I received my first computer as a gift from my boss at the time, an old KayPro.

HL: That's fascinating Toni. I have to admit I've never heard of a KayPro, but perhaps we didn't have them in the UK. Well of course different writers have different ways of writing, some like to flesh out the characters first, others prefer to do the plotting first. What comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

TS: The plot, I suppose. I think of an event, and then the people who brought it about and first thing I know, I'm having them spout dialogue to each other and--voila! A story is born.

HL: Tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

TS: My newest book is Blood Sin. It's the first in a series, the Kan Ingan Archives, and weaves in a variation on the story of Phaedra. You know--older husband, young wife, young, handsome male relative. Bee
n done to death by the Soaps but I tried to give it a new twist. My hero, Aric, is the nephew of the ruler of a galaxy and is his uncle's heir...until the uncle travels to Earth and meets and marries an Earthwoman, Elizabeth Sheffield. At first, Aric and Elizabeth are bitter enemies because they're just two much alike to be friends--both spoiled, selfish, wanting to have their own way--but several dramatic events occur which change their attitudes toward each other and eventually they fall in love. When rebel forces protest their ruler marrying an alien, Aric's uncle believes his nephew is behind it all and Aric can't prove his innocence without admitting he and Elizabeth are having an affair. Then, things go from bad to worse.

HL: That sounds so intriguing, can't wait to get my hands on it, and the trailer is wonderful. Okay, enquiring minds as they say ... if someone were to play one of your characters in a movie, which character and what actor would it be and why?

Travis Fimmel would be a great Aric. He's got the proper spoiled-youngster-but-resourceful-if-necessary look.

HL: And have you a favourite actor/hunk? Would this be the same guy?

TS: Oh, to be sure! I'm hoping he's going to be on the cover of an upcoming book.

HL: LOL, Wouldn't that be something! What have you learned about writing since you were published that surprised you the most?

TS: Nothing surprises me any more.

HL: What’s your writing process? Has it changed since writing your first book?

TS: At first, I wrote in long hand then transcribed it. Now I skip the long hand part. Other than that, the process hasn't changed so much. I still do lots of research. Before I start writing, I reread and edit the previous session, and look up anything that's questionable. I do lots of cross-referencing because I want things to be as factual as possible. And once I get started, I don't want to stop...housework, meals, laundry...everything gets neglected when I write.

HL: Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you find it distracts you?

TS: I always try to play appropriate music when I right. I may play the same piece continually in a loop until anyone in the house is ready to take the CD and toss it. Ever seen a CD with grooves worn in it?

HL:. Do you have a support system? Do you have a writing community? What valuable lessons have you learned from them?

TS: I used to but they are so busy now writing and getting their own works published, we don't have much time for each other any more. Once in a while, we get together and have a brainstorming session over a bottle--or two or three--of wine, but those are few and far between now.

HL: What is your personal definition of success?

TS: Being recognized for something you've done but not to the extent that it interferes with your private life.

HL: I love finding out what inspires other writers, so what is your favourite source of inspiration, Toni?

TS: My brain. It's the best storage unit I know. There's stuff in there that I don't even know about yet!

HL: Is there any advice, as a new writer, that you were either given, or wish you had been given?

TS: If a publisher send your manuscript back to you with suggestions, READ THEM, then ACT ON THEM.

HL: Great Advice, now for a completely non-serious question, If you were an animal, which one would it be and why?

TS: Probably a toy poodle. People would think I'm cute and cuddly and completely ignore that I might have a brain.

HL. Awww! And finally, is there a question you really, really wish someone would ask, but they never do? If so what would be your reply?

TS: I don't know the question, but the answer is "42". (Fans of Douglas Adams will know what I mean.)

LOL! That is a great book, and very, very funny.

Thank you so much for being here today Toni, and for answering all my nosy questions

Toni's book is available HERE:

and here's the trailer to give you a taster: