Friday, August 21, 2009

Special Guest: Toni Sweeney

1. How long have you been writing to get published and what do you think finally garnered your success at it?

I started writing at age 6, gained speed in high school, got serious about it in 1975, and had my first novel published in 1989. As for success? I don't know that I have that, yet, but if anything, I'm darned persistent! If anyone ever comes up to me and says, "Toni Sweeney? Yes, I read (insert title here) and liked it (or didn't like it, for that matter), I'll know I've arrived!

2. Since you write science fiction, what differences and similarities to other genres stand out to you?

I guess all stories are similar in that they all have (or should have) plot, characters, and conflict. Placing a story on an alien world, in an alien culture gives the writer freedom to make comments on society by contrasting it to what's going on there, or having the aliens view our own society with scorn, irony, or curiosity, pointing out how absurd, unjust, or complacent it sometimes is. I have one story now that's a horror story but I realized the other day that with a change of the characters' natures from vampire to human, it could be a very entertaining story set in the England of the Plantagenets.

3. What inspires your story ideas?

Anything! Sometimes, it might be something someone says, a catchy phrase, or a play on words. Or an idea that pops into my mind. Or the question: "What if...?" Or just a title.

4. How did you come up with your titles?

I try to have my titles relate in some way to my story, try to make them intriguing, of course, so the reader will look at the title, think "Hm, wonder what that's about?" and buy it to find out. Like in my new book Blood Sin. I'd like the reader to wonder "What's a blood sin? And how does it relate to the hunky guy on the cover, with the beautiful woman clinging to him?" Generally when I choose a title, I stick to it. There have been only a couple of times when my titles have gone through changes. Bloodseek went through four titles before one stuck. Blood Sin went through three. The second story in the series was actually titled Blood Sin and was written first; when I wrote Book One, it was called Blood Ties. Then, I decided that would be better for the second book, so I swapped them. Later, I changed the second title also. (Is that confusing?)

5. Do you use visual aids to help you write? If so, what kind?

Once in a while, I find an online picture which strongly resembles my hero or heroine. I might print that and tape it near the computer to look at while I type. Generally, I just keep things like that in my head. I've done the same thing with scenery, castles, etc. And I'm always researching so if there's a lengthy explanation of something which is integral to the plot, I may copy it out to refer to directly instead of accessing it continuously online or in a book. Saves time.

6. Do you relate more with the hero or heroine in your stories?

My heroine, although when it comes to emotions and secret feelings, I tell myself both men and women experience the same things deep down so there's really no difference. A man can feel the same dismay, elation, and feelings of inadequacy as a woman; he'll just display it differently. I try to make my heroines feisty, so the heroes, who tend to be the domineering type until you get to know them better (or perhaps they change once they meet the heroine) see them as a challenge.

7. Whose POV do you like to write your love scenes from the most and why?

I generally write from the third person POV. Somehow, doing a love scene in the first person feels a little embarrassing. Then, too, that limits the sensation of the act because only the other person's reactions--and not their emotions and thoughts--can be described. First Person always limits the story because nothing can be told that doesn't happen in the speaker's presence. I once wrote a first person love story but before it was published, changed it to third person because that made it flow better.

8. Describe the hero and heroine of your current release.

My latest novel is Blood Sin.

The hero is Aric kan Ingan, a prince of Arcanis, a planet in the Emeraunt Galaxy. At the age of twelve, Aric was taken from his mother and raised by his uncle to be the next Margrave of Arcanis and as a result, he's proud, spoiled, and more than a bit of a snob. He's twenty when the story opens. His uncle astounds everyone by not only opening trade relations with the Earth--a minor planet which has been quarantined from outside contact for two thousands years because of its propensity to violence--but also announces he's marrying an Earthwoman. Aric not only loses his succession to the throne but is expected to accept this graciously and welcome his new aunt with open arms, which--being the spoiled young noble that he is--he refuses to do. This isn't to say he's not a worthy person; he's also brave, an able warrior, and obeys his mother. He just wants to be king!

The second "hero" in the story is his uncle Deroes who became margrave at the age of eight. When Deroes was thirteen, he dismissed his advisors and has ruled alone ever since and is continually in conflict with those same men. They want him to marry...just not an alien, which, of course, is what he does. He recognizes Aric's dislike of his new wife but has no clue how to make his nephew accept what's happened.

Elizabeth Sheffield is more like Aric than she wants to admit. She's spoiled, beautiful, and an opportunist who's accustomed to manipulating men into doing what she wants. At first, this doesn't work with Deroes who's much older and experienced than she, but eventually, even he is maneuvered so that he thinks marrying Elizabeth is his own idea. She thinks she can control Aric the same way she has all the others but it finally comes down to pitting one spoiled young person against another spoiled young person, two personalities too much alike...and the inevitable happens...they fall in love.

9. Is there wiggle room for a sequel and do you have plans to write one?

Blood Sin is the first in the series, the kan Ingan Archives, the premise being that all these stories are in the history of the royal family. (They weren't shy about writing down their faults and foibles for posterity.) The second has now been tentatively titled Sinner's Exile, and there are two to three more, if things work out.

10. What are you up to now? Do you have upcoming releases you'd like to share a little info on?

The next one out will be Blood Sin which will be released in August. I also have A Singing in the Blood, in the Chronicles of Riven the Heretic series, and Sinbad's Pride, from the Adventures of Sinbad, both expected out toward the end of this year. Maybe an anthology of short stories.

11. Tell us something we'd be surprised to know about you.

You mean other than the fact that I'm madly in love with a hunk thirty years younger than myself? Nothing much, I guess.

12. What is your favorite fictional love scene of all time (can be literary or film)?

The first one coming to mind is that famous scene from Gone with the Wind where Rhett forcibly carries Scarlett up the staircase and into their bedroom but I have two others, also. The novel Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong, in which witch Paige Winterbourne and sorcerer/lawyer Lucas Cortez first make love. Also, a novel which I bought decades ago (and, I'm ashamed to admit, no longer remember the title). It was the third in a series, about the Colonies and sailing ships, and the titles had something to do with the ships names and the sea (if anyone recognizes this vague description, thank you!) The first time the hero and heroine make love, he gets very instructional, telling her various names for "things" and it gets very funny. He's trying to be so understanding and gentle and and serious and she's sooo ready!

13. What can readers expect to see from you in the next few years?

Probably more of the same. I'm pretty consistent and predictable.


Susan Macatee said...

Great interview, Toni! I've always loved science fiction and sci-fi combined with romance is my absolute fave!

This sounds like a great series!

Toni V.S. said...

Thanx, Susan. I appreciate the comment. Hope you'll try Blood Sin! I think you'd enjoy it.

Mary Ricksen said...

Toni is so prolific it's amazing. I don't think she realizes how successful she really is!


I'm thinking pink all right.

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks so much for doing the interview. I too love Science Fiction, though I've never tried to write it.
I've read quite a few of Orson Scot Cards though his has no romance. I think romantic sci-fi may just be right up my alley.
I be sure to check out Blood Sin.
Teresa R.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Toni,
I am impressed because I can't write science fiction - your storyline amazes me. Hope you sell lots of books.

Wonderful interview!

~ Inspiration, Ink. ~ © 2007 Template feito por Áurea R.C.