Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tuesday Special Author Interview: Toni Blake

Author Name: Toni Blake
Genre: Contemporary Single Title
Latest book in shops now:
In Your Wildest Dreams

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from all of your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Walmart, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs? (grin)

Ha! It was a personal hygiene product that shall remain nameless, and um, actually, no I don’t know how much a loaf of bread costs – only because it’s one of those things you have to buy, so whatever it costs, I pay ; )


What were your favourite books as a child?

Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, by Judy Blume. I read it like 23 times. I also did some Nancy Drews, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

Mainly a bunch of writing ; ) Seriously, I spend all day at the computer, either writing or dealing with business issues or e-mail, only taking a break for lunch. On a bad writing day, it can consist of computer games : )

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

Only five? I’ll take a shot:

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie
Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrich
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

And I haven’t even gotten to my favorite romances yet, darn it!

I’ve noticed that To Kill A Mocking Bird is a popular favourite… must re-read me thinks…

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

Janet Evanovich – the Stephanie Plum series. I was a latecomer to these!

Hey I’ve never even read a Janet Evanovich book, so you got me beat!

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

Oh gosh, tons. It’s a big world, but a small community : ) I know lots and lots of other romance authors and consider most of them friends. So, just to name a few, here goes: Laura Leone/Laura Resnick, Julie Anne Long, Elizabeth Bevarly, Jessica Bird/J.R. Ward, LuAnn McLane, Lori Foster, Dianne Castell, Jenny Crusie, and Tina Leonard.

Name dropper! *g*

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

When I was ten years old, I told my mother over breakfast one day that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. We lived on a farm in a rural area and I was an only child, so that gave me lots of time to make up stories in my head.

I always wanted to get them down on paper and share them – so it’s really something I’ve been compelled to do for almost as long as I can remember : )

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

Thomas Jefferson, and I would have to ask him about that whole Sally Hemmings-and-being-a-slaveholder thing. I’d also love to discuss with him the inner workings of the Revolutionary War and all that – I find that a fascinating time period and he was a fascinating guy.

Bit of a renaissance man, but the whole slaveholding thing never seems to fit in my mind when I think about him.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

It’s pretty simple – just to connect with people, give them something to read that they enjoy, something that helps them escape to someplace new for a little while. I would, of course, love to be a bestseller someday, but that’s mainly so I could be ensured I’d always have a career : ) Really, if I can just keep writing and selling my work, I’ll be happy : )

How has the romance industry changed from when you first started writing, and which of these changes were you happiest/unhappiest with?

Well, the industry is always in flux, so it’s hard to measure it all. But right now, I think there’s some freedom – that editors are open to looking at more different types of books, which is great.

Which of your books is the dearest to your heart, and why?

Wow, that’s tough. Probably
The Red Diary , because that book came straight from my heart, and I was so thrilled when it sold. But In Your Wildest Dreams is a close second, only because I personally think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written and the characters and their story were very dear to me, along with the city where it took place, New Orleans. Given the situation there right now, that makes it even more so.

I’ve got In Your Dreams on my TBR pile, I must get round to reading it soon

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

Wow, that’s a great question.

Thanks for the question Rosie *g*

Not really, I don’t think.

But wait, I just thought of something. Once, a reviewer said about one of the Harlequin books that the characters were still having the exact same problem on page 200 as they were on page 20, and it was true.

That struck me as a good point and I resolved right then and there to make sure that never happened again. I hope I’ve succeeded so far. That said, that book was my best-selling, most well-reviewed Harlequin, so who knows what it all means : )

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

1999 – Paris. I’d love to get to England or Italy sometime soon – they’re definitely on my list of places to see before I die.

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Gosh, I don’t know. I tend to think more in terms of favorite books, which is about more than just the characters, so I’m afraid I can’t think of an answer. Sorry : (

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

I go in phases, I think. I’m in my alpha male phase right now : ) That said, I like to try to vary my characters from book to book. The only thing I really try to make sure of is that I write heroes a reader can fall in love with and heroines a reader can relate to.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

Jane Reader : ) I know that sounds funny, but I really just want to reach people who love to read romance, who love emotional, sexy books. No one person in particular.

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

Nora Roberts. She gives the genre muscle and does us all proud.

What was the last movie you saw?

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, last night on cable. I have the book, too. Before that, finally rented Phantom of the Opera the other night, and the week before that, The Astronaut’s Wife.

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Sense & Sensibility {loved this movie!}
When Harry Met Sally
The Sure Thing
Pride & Prejudice

Darn, can’t think of a fifth one : ( I’m sure I’m leaving out dozens, though.

What was the last book you read?

Right now I’m reading Dark Lover by J.R. Ward. Finished Hot Six by Janet Evanovich last week.

Have you ever written a book that you didn’t particularly care for, and do you cringe if you see people picking it up to read it?

No, I have no regrets about anything I’ve written. I have had a book slaughtered in editing, though, when the publisher decided to change the word count right before my book went to press, so it’s embarrassing to think readers don’t know I wasn’t responsible for the mistakes that resulted.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The freedom and pure joy of it. I get paid to make up stories : ) I love just sitting at the computer pouring out the stories all day long.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

The uncertainty. You never really know for sure if you have a job ; ) This is a business with no rhyme or reason to it and you never know what’s around the next corner.

As you’ve been there, done it, and have the badge to prove it, what is the number one advice that would you give to aspiring writers out there?

Persevere. If you never quit trying, you’ll succeed. The reason for that? Most people will quit trying.

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

The date is iffy right now – probably fall 2006. It’s the story of a girl who once tried to seduce a guy and he turned her down – and ten years later they end up stranded on a private island together : ) The tagline: Of all the islands in all the world, he had to wash up onto mine …

Ummm, sounds yummy, another one I’ll have to purchase I guess!

Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these very nosy questions!

It was fun, and these are great questions! Thanks for inviting me!

That’s it for this week folks, next week’s interview is a toss up between
Laura Kinsale and Robin Schone, I’ll see how I feel!