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Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview of Toni V. Sweeney

Today it's my pleasure to present an interview of romance author Toni V. Sweeney!

Latest Book: Barbarian Blood Royal
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Toni V. Sweeney was born some time between the War Between the States and the Gulf War. She has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. Her first novel was published in 1989. An accomplished artist as well as writer, she has a degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art. She maintains a website for herself and her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone, and has been associated with the South Coast Writer's Association, the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers, myspace, Facebook, and YouTube. Barbarian Blood Royal/ is her 25th novel.

Q What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: Usually it’s dialogue between the hero and heroine, especially if they’re not exactly wild about each other. I like what I call “Snappy repartee” with each one giving as good as he/she gets. Anyone having read any of the “Sinbad” books knows what I mean. Sin and Andi are forever batting words back and forth, and enjoying every minute of it.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: It’s usually a part I know is necessary but I’m really not interested in. I just want to get it out of the way so I can get to the “good” stuff. In the book I’m working on now—set in ancient Egypt--the characters have to get from one city to another by traveling across a desert. I was tempted to just have them start out, stick in a couple of asterisks, and in the next paragraph have them arrive, but I knew that would be the coward’s way out, besides being way too obvious I didn’t want to write it. SO I sat down, gritted my teeth and managed a description of their anxiety of getting to their destination ASAP, the fact that it was going to take two days and if they forced a march, they’d arrive exhausted and no good to anyone.

When it was finished, I could see that it added some very necessary information, giving more insight into the characters as well as setting the scene for what awaited them.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: In Barbarian Blood Royal, my favorite character is Val kan Ingan. Val’s the son of Riven kan Ingan, the son of a warlord but he’s led an unusual life and as a result, he has a Royal-sized chip on his armored shoulder. He’s been at odds with his father most of his life because before his birth, his father drove his mother out, thinking she’d been unfaithful. Val was 5 before his father recognized the boy as his heir. As a result, he’s gone out of his way to do whatever he can to bedevil his father, and it’s only just before Riven’s death in the war (told in the previous book A Singing in the Blood), that they reconcile. Now, orphaned by the war, he has that precious moment to cling to…that he and his father admitted their love for each other. When the story starts, he’s barely 20, suddenly finding himself a fugitive, the son of a declared traitor, and running for his life…while swearing he’s going to survive, become a warrior, and come back to avenge his father’s death as well as clearing his name.

That’s a lot of responsibility to put on a pair of young shoulders, but Val accepts. Through most of the story, he’s portrayed as having a single minded goal—revenge—and letting nothing get in his way to accomplish it. Toward the end of the book, however, I get a chance to show his gentle side as he searches for the servant girl he fell in love with, refusing to believe she’s dead because he’s kept her alive in his heart for 17 years, and when he does find her…he suddenly becomes that clumsy 20-year-old again, just as if no time had passed at all. Now, he has to dig deep within himself and bring out the love he’s suppressed for so long. He has to convince himself that he can still be a warrior and also be tender, and it won’t reflect on his manhood.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your hero?
A: For Val, I guess I’d have to say Nicolai Coster-Waldau who’s currently in A Game of Thrones.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Most of the men are tall, though I’ve had a couple who weren’t even six-feet but they’ve been dark, fair…one was even evolved from a feline species. The heroines are usually small and feisty but other than that, they have an array of hair coloring and complexions, too.

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I admit I’ve a weakness for dry-roasted peanuts and dark chocolate.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: That would have to be The Prince of Midnight, which—contrary to what some publishers say can’t be done—is written from the hero’s point of view. This hero has an unusual affliction also; he’s a highwayman stricken with Meniere’s Syndrome which appears at the most inopportune times. The cover model for the story was Fabio and it was the first time I’d ever seen him. I liked the story so much, I even named my cat “Thibault Minuit” which is “Prince of Midnight" in French.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a handsome man, a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: Throw in some chocolate and… I’m not saying, but it might turn up in a later novel!

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: I’ve never tried writing a mystery because I don’t think I’m devious enough.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

With the death of their parents in the Genocide Wars, the five sons of Riven kan Ingan flee to separate countries to escape the Margrave's injustice. There, they grow into men, become warriors, and wait for the time to return and avenge themselves upon Morling, king of Francovia. One will become a king, and fulfill the Drune priest's prophecy given to their grandfather three generations before.

Val…Ilke…the twins…Merigan…who will be the Barbarian Blood Royal?

Wheeling, Val fended away the sword of his attacker.

For weeks now, they had followed him. He'd seen the three figures in the distance, and though they never came close enough for him to identify the crimson gauntlet upon their black tabards marking them as Black Shields, he knew who they were. Like hounds on the scent of a fox, Morling's hunters had tracked him this far, staying with him, never losing sight of their prey.

He was on a plain…grassy, hot, and treeless, and offering little protection from either the sun or the men following him. Behind him, the mountains were a hazy blur in the distance. Before him, stretched the level grass and nothing else.

For days now, he'd rationed his water supply, going without so his horse could have more to drink, until the animal faltered and fell under the blaze of the sun, its mouth open and dry. Holding his hand under the horse's muzzle, Val poured the remaining water onto the animal's tongue. As it coughed, swallowed, and heaved itself shakily to its feet, he brushed his damp palm across his own dry, cracking lips, skin gratefully absorbing what moisture was left.

Taking up the reins, he and the animal trudged on.

That was what they had waited for. The fox was run to ground and the hounds attacked.

He barely had time to draw his sword and brace himself before they were upon him.

All-Father, help him! The spindle fell from the Weaver's fingers, sending her scrambling to the floor after it.  It tumbled through the clouds to land at Ildred's feet. Weaver followed, on her knees before the Father of the Gods.

'Tis not the time, Weaver. All-Father's voice was calm, making her plea all the more frantic.

There are three against one. The odds are too unfair, she protested, seizing the spindle and crawling back to her seat before the loom.

He's not an untried stripling, Weaver. Though young, he's already fought beside his father, and survived.

Aye, and you let the father die! she accused, her fear making her reckless to speak back to the Father of the Gods. You promised the man peace and a long life and you let him be killed in that needless war!

For this day and time, he
did have a long life, Ildred answered. The war was necessary to force his sons into manhood, to mark the beginning of the prophecy.  Yon boy fought and survived and he'll survive this, too--without my help.

Why won't you help him? she persisted. You said his grandsire would be the ancestor of kings. How can that happen if the boy dies?

Riven kan Ingan had more than one son, Weaver. The words were cold.

Then...young Valriven isn't the one who--Weaver's words trailed away. Which one, All-Father, which one is it, then?

Not now, Weaver. A hand gestured toward the scene being woven before her. You must tend to your loom. The story unfolds without you...

Fending away one sword, he turned to block the thrust of the second Black Shield's blade, trying to maneuver into a position where he could face all three. They continued to circle, darting in, moving away. If they'd bayed and growled, 'twould've been appropriate.

The fox was at bay and they were waiting to pull him down.

Drel's devils! he thought frantically, despairing at the odds. Prince of Demons, help me! Three against one's too unequal!

...the clouds burst into crimson light.Ripping them away with his taloned fingers, Drel forced his dreadful way into the Cavern.

Father, did you hear? He called for me! The words were a liquid stream of scarlet, directed at Ildred as if in challenge.

I heard, Ildred replied, unmoved by neither Drel's blood-smeared aspect nor his words. And you shall have him--for now.

Y-you relinquish him? A look of puzzlement appearing on what could be seen of Drel’s gore-stained face under the cheek-guards of his horned helm. For this moment. The boy's belonged to you in body for some time, my bloody son. The Bloodsong rages through his veins and 'tis your path he'll follow for many years. Go! Send your minion to answer his call and make him your own, but be ready to release him when the time comes. Take his body--but I'll keep his soul!

With a roar sweeping through the sky as a screaming wind, darkness gleaming through the rents in his blood-dark robes,Drel rushed from the Cavern.
He swung his sword but the man leaped away and the blow which should've driven the point through his chest merely struck his shoulder. Still, the Black went down, weapon falling from his hand.

One out of the way!

'Twas awkward, fighting with his left hand, trying to swing the sword around to meet theirs. One moved in, and as their blades clashed in the air, the other Black stepped behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, Val saw the man raise his sword.

Even as he dodged and lifted his own weapon to catch the downward-moving blade, he knew 'twas too late. He had a sudden glimpse of metal glittering in the sun as it fell to bury itself through forehead, eye, and cheek.

Dropping his sword, Val clutched at his face, and the world burst into a raw and crimson wound.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me as your guest today!


Sandy said...

Your interview was interesting Toni.

I don't usually read this type of book, but I have been to Egypt and would love to compare what I know of the country with your story.

Mona Risk said...

Toni, I can't wait to read your book. A story set in Egypt should be very interesting. You are so prolific.

jean hart stewart said...

You certainly write a graphic description. Gets the reader right in the middle of the action. great excerpts. Jean

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