Please help me welcome fellow AHA member, Toni Sweeney…
Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I’ve just your average, friendly neighborhood little old lady writer. I celebrated my 75th birthday this past December.
No pets now, but I used to own (or they owned me) 4 poodles and a mutt, AND a cat. All at the same time. They were the basis for my novel Spacedog’sBbest Friend.
Where did you get the idea for Serpent’s Tooth?
Believe it or not, it was from a dream. I had a dream about an actor who was popular in the 50’s, in SF/horror movies and when I woke, all I could remember was his name and the name “Hildebrand.” A few days later, I saw one of his movies on TV and one of the characters was named “Hildebrand.” I took that to mean something, and wrote Serpent’s Tooth around that name.
Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?
It was one of the first books Class Act Books published of mine. I’ve always liked ghost stories and tales along that line.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
Making time to sit down and write it. Thee’s always something else needing to be done.
What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?
See above. I had it all plotted out, even written, in my mind. It was sitting down in front of the keyboard and actually writing it that was the difficult part.
Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?
There was a time when I couldn’t talk about a book until after it was finished. Now, I’ll tell about it if someone asks.
What book have you read that you wish you had written?
Gone with the Wind. Even those people who don’t like to read have heard of it.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
Boiled peanuts. You’re either born loving them or not. Being a Southern, I was born this way. I also like them oven-roasted.
Do you collect anything?
I used to collect horse figurines but that stopped when a good many of them got broken during a move. I suppose you could say I collect books since I have 12 bookcases fjull.
What was your first job?
After graduation, I was secretary to the chairman of the English Department of the college where I studied. That was a great job for an English major!
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Exile?
I’d like theme to say, “Wow, I can’t wait to read the next one!”
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
Mystery. I don’t think I’m sneaky enough to write a really good mystery.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I once had a publisher reject a manuscript and tell me no one would believe in a hero who was part feline. Later, when Class Act Books published the entire Adventures of Sinbad series and it won several award, including Best series of that specific year, I wanted to write them and let them know. I managed not to.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I’ve based a few characters on real people, mostly ones I didn’t like. I once made a very obnoxious co-worker into a mud-rooting pig in one of my books!
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
They wish me “Good luck,” but they don’t rush out to buy them. Maybe the “Good luck” is hypothetical?
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
Gene Roddenberry. For about 3 seconds.
How did you come up with the title?
It tells the entire story and I hoped it would make the reader want to know exactly why the main character was exiled and what happened during his banishment.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not in this series. It’s just for the adventure of it. Some of the others had a message, however.
How much of the book is realistic?
Losing someone you love and never expecting to ever find anyone else is pretty realistic. I imagine almost everyone has experienced that feeling. I doubt if any one person has gone through everything my main character has, however. That would be too much!
Movie – Rocky Horror Picture Show
Music – the finale to Swan Lake
Place you’ve visited – Jekyll Island, GA
TV show from childhood – Rinky Dink and You
TV show from adulthood – Gotham
Food – fruit cake
Aric kan Ingan is a Non-Person, an Exile stripped of title and citizenship for treason against the Arcanian Empire, crimes of which he is innocent. Sentenced to banishment, he wanders the Emeraunt Galaxy a lonely decade while his uncle withholds clemency.
Money depleted and addictions demanding to be fed, Aric enlists as a guard at a Terran mining colony. Adjusting to life among hated Terrans is difficult, until Aric meets two people who will become an indelible part of his life: Susan Moran, the company doctor, and Miles Sheffield, his former mistress’ younger brother.
With Miles and Susan, Aric suffers the joy of friendship, the passion of love, and the grief of sudden death, and eventually makes a decision that will change the destiny of the Arcanian Empire forever.
As he rounded a corner and dodged a brightly-robed Scyllan, he nearly collided with a short weasel of a man running out of a nearby doorway. The little man brushed against him and sped on, only to be pulled off his feet as Aric’s hand wrapped itself in the collar of his jacket.
“Hold it!” He hauled the little man backward to stand before him, and held out his hand. “Give it back.”
“Give what back?” A face of total innocence, if a trifle ferret-like, looked up at him.
In answer, Aric snapped his fingers and thrust the hand at the little man again, palm up. Something about the gesture told the little thief not to argue. It frightened him and he didn’t know why. It wasn’t the stranger’s size. He’d seen bigger men. Nor was it the tiny jewel, set like a droplet of blood in his left earlobe, announcing that here was a warrior Blooded in True Battle, just as the Sign of Ildred, marking his forehead in indelible mourning-black, likewise proclaimed him an Exile.
The little man shivered and the stranger smiled, and at that moment, Fredi the Pick knew exactly what caused his fear. Those eyes. Less than human. Like a bird of prey.
Digging into his pocket, he extracted a small leather pouch, and placed it in the Arcanian’s hand, smiling a little weakly. “Well! Now that that’s done, I’ll just be on my—”
“Not so fast.” He was pinned against the wall, lifted by the force of the hand against his chest, struggling to keep both feet on the cobbles as he looked up into his captor’s face.
“I suppose you’re going to peach me?” What did he expect, picking someone like this as a mark? Stupid move, truly stupid!
“Hardly.” The Arcanian laughed but it was a grim, cold sound. “You know the Keepers don’t come to the Quad.”
“I’d prefer the Lawkeepers.” The little man looked even glummer. “We’ve our own rules here, y’know, and the Primary One’s that one inhabitant of the Quad never steals from another.”
Relief and confusion showed on the rat-like face. “Well, then, I’ll just be go—”
The large hand detained him again. Fredi looked up. “Was there something else?”
“Yes, I need some…things.”
“Oh?” The little man frowned. “What kind of things?”
In spite of where they were, Aric hesitated. He wasn’t certain he could trust this little rodent. “Are you a-a Procurer?”
“Why didn’t you say so?” The frown disappeared. “I thought—you being an Exile and all… Did you break your Vows? You want girls? How many?”
“No. Not girls.”
“Oh. Well, I don’t usually deal the other way but— Boys? I suppose I could find one or two—”
“No!” Aric’s denial was quick. “I want—” He lowered his voice, struggling to keep the desperation out of it. “I need some drugs.”
“No problem.” The little man showed no surprise. “Name your poison.”
“I need nicotine and caffeine. Can you get me some cigarettes and coffee?”
“Cigarettes—” The little man looked around quickly before continuing in a whisper that was almost a hiss. “You want cigarettes and coffee? Those two are at the top of the Unlawful Substances List!”
“Can you get them?”
The thief looked away. He couldn’t meet that unblinking amber stare, not just the steadiness of the gaze but the bleakness in it, as if something inside the man had died.
“Possibly, but it’ll cost you. There aren’t many, even in Thieves’ Quad who dare deal in both.”
“I can pay.”
“I’ll need something for my time, too. Do you know the penalty for possession of tobacco?”
“I don’t want to know.” Aric was tiring of the conversation and desperately wanted to lie down. Drel’s tushes, I need a tox! “Just find it, at any cost.”
“Right.” The little man eyed him as if inspecting him for some sign of nicotine-spasm.
“And I’ll need a place to stay.”
“Elmia’s. Around the corner and two blocks down.” He gestured behind him. “Tell ’em Fredi sent you.”
Aric released him.
“I’ll be back in an hour, maybe two.” Fredi sped away without looking back.
Aric wondered if he’d keep his word.
Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/exile-8782018-03-14-02-58-23-detail?Itemid=0
About the Author:
Toni V. Sweeney 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.
Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by netgalley.com.
She is an Amazon reviewer, is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted one of the Top 10 authors of those years by Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. In 2013, the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice voted The kan Ingan Archives (Part Two of the Arcanian Chronicles) a Special Mention, and the following year, named the individual novels The Man from Cymene, and Space Studs, from the same series two of the Top 8 SF/fantasy novels of 2014.
As of 2018, Toni currently has 55 novels in print, including 3 series, and 3 trilogies.
Find out more about Toni:
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8