E-Author Spotlight: Toni V. Sweeney
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Toni V. Sweeney is a diverse and prolific author. Whether she’s writing a vampire story, a western, or a fantasy, she brings her matchless gift for captivating tales to each one. Someday she may settle on just one genre, but it’s hard to choose which one I’d like that to be.

As a child, growing up in the Bible Belt, she had the biggest yard on the block, with trees and flower gardens and lots of space. The neighborhood kids would come over and swing from trees, fight off imaginary stampeding elephants, and run from rampaging alien robots. Like all writers, she had a vivid imagination at that age, and, since she was tall for her age, the other kids would designate her as the hero.

Rising above a terrible car accident in 1970, Ms. Sweeney pushed onward with her life, earning two degrees in art and learning how to dance (something her doctor said she’d never do after the accident). Her landscapes and still-lifes are well-displayed.

Some of her favorite things include her granddaughter, poodle puppies, boiled peanuts, watermelon, watching horses gallop, gardens in full bloom, playing the piano, sitting up late at night eating popcorn and watching old horror movies, and very tall, red-haired men. In addition, she dislikes people who ridicule Southern accents, stories about the Alamo, the Titanic, time travel, and sushi. Can’t blame her for that. I’m from the South, and my hackles rise when someone sticks their nose up at my accent or assumes I’m dumb because of it.

On Writing, in Ms. Sweeney’s Own Words

What or who inspires you to write?

Sometimes I’ll hear a phrase or read something that’ll make me think, “What if...?” or I’ll see a scene in a movie and wonder what would’ve happened if it had taken a different path, and the ol’ brain starts extrapolating. Often the story I start out with isn’t the story I end up with. Bloodseek started out as a story about an interplanetary bounty hunter, and it ended up as a sword-and-sorcery novel. I’ve heard it said that a lot of writing is autobiographical, and I suppose this is true. Even though a good portion of my writing is fantasy and science fiction, my characters have a lot of me in them. Most of them are people who’ve lost—or been driven away from—their homes and families, and while they’re having all these adventures and excitement, they’re really searching for the way back to what they’ve lost. In reality, that’s all they want—not to be a king or a decorated hero or a famous ballerina, but to regain the love and security that was taken away. Sometimes they find it, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they find it only to lose it again. Me? I lost it all, and I’m still searching.

Why did you begin writing?

Another interesting story. (See above mention of horrendous auto accident.) With a broken back, crushed hip, and broken pelvis, you don’t do much moving around. I was flat on my back for three months, in too much pain to watch TV, but I could read when I was conscious. I think I’d have gone bananas if I hadn’t liked to read! Anyway, once I recovered and found myself a single parent with a baby to care for (my son was born eight months after the auto accident), I also found that there was no extra money for books. So I started writing my own so I’d have something to read. I was working in a medical clinic and started sharing the manuscripts with the ladies at work, who also were bookworms. One day, someone dared me to send one to a publisher, so I did. They rejected the book but asked me to write one for them...and the rest, as they say, is history!

Which author inspires you?

I don’t know if “inspires” is the right word. I like to read certain authors, and I wish I could be as successful as they are. Since I like horror stories, I’ve read many of Bram Stoker’s works, besides Dracula. And I’ve read the original Gothic writers—Walpole, Radcliffe, Lewis. I like modern writers, such as J.S. Robb, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, and P.N. Elrod. I won’t say that I’ve copied their styles because I’d like to think I have my own unique one, but they’ve influenced the things I write about and perhaps the way I write, too. Right now, I’d have to say if I’m inspired by anyone, it’s Jim Butcher and P.N. Elrod. Most of my recent work would have to be classified as cross-genre, I suppose, but now, I’m leaning more toward horror. In fact, I have several vampire novels making the rounds now, a couple of vampire short stories on Amazon.com’s Amazon Shorts, and a vampire series in progress, and maybe even a sequel to Murder in Old Blood!

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

The day I access Amazon and see my name there! Seriously, it’s the satisfaction I feel when I finish a story, set it aside long enough to forget it a little, and then come back to it and re-read it and find myself surprised at how well I put it together. Also, I like the way people react when I tell them I write, and not only that I write, but that I’m published. They sort of draw in their breaths and just stand there for an instant, and then comes the inevitable: “Really? Wow!” I enjoy writing. It’s helped me get over some really rough spots in my life.

When is your next book due, and what’s it about?

Well, my latest novel, Sinbad’s Last Voyage, was released in November as an e-book and should be out soon as a paperback. Would that count as “next”? It’s a science-fiction romance about a half-feline smuggler who’s hired by a woman to find her fugitive-from-justice husband—and then he complicates things by falling in love with her and landing them smack in the middle of an interplanetary war. I’m not certain which ones Double Dragon has planned as the next one for the New Year—either Jericho Road, a romance about the South during the Vietnam Era, which is being released under my pen name, Icy Snow Blackstone, or the second Sinbad book, Sinbad’s Wife, which continues the story of the above smuggler and what happens when he marries Andrea. Or it might be the second book of The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic: Blood Curse. (Incidentally, Icy Snow Blackstone was my great-great-great-great-grandmother. I always thought her name sounded like a romance writer’s name!)

As you can see, Ms. Sweeney has a lot to offer in the coming months. Be sure to read my reviews of Murder in Old Blood and Vengeance from Eden. Then visit Toni V. Sweeney at her home on the Web to purchase any or all of her wonderful novels: ToniVSweeney.com/.

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