Guest interview: Toni Anderson

Please welcome Toni Anderson, our special guest for today!

Toni is a former marine biologist who conducted her Ph.D. at the Gatty Marine Laboratory in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland. She was born and raised in the U.K., but now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children, living about as far from the ocean as possible. Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and the Red Center of Australia. She escapes the long brutal Canadian winters by writing Romantic Mystery and Suspense stories.

Welcome, Toni! Please tell us about Storm Warning, your latest release from Carina Press.

STORM WARNING is a story about a graduate student haunted by her father’s ghost. She becomes the chief suspect in a drug smuggling investigation and ends up falling in love with the DEA agent investigating her. The story came to me as I walked the dogs and pushed the stroller around the blustery little town of Cellardyke where we were fortunate enough to live for six happy years. Blame Daphne Du Maurier and an overactive imagination. Blame the misty sea air and the constant sight of the Isle of May just off the coast. Blame the cute little puffins and the incredibly brave Lifeboat personnel who go out in seas too rough for mere mortals. :)

Wow, what a dramatic setting! Do you have a review you could share with us?

I’ve had some nice reviews and got a Top Pick from Aubrey at THE ROMANCE REVIEWS.

“I found Storm Warning to be a very easy read that kept me captivated. It is exactly the way I like my romantic suspense novels to be. Heavy on the action, sex and dialogue. The dialogue between Sorcha and Ben was intelligent, witty and fast-paced. I loved that the setting wasn't the usual romantic suspense setting of the jungle but a small town in Scotland. I would definitely recommend this book to others and look forward to reading more from this author.”

Awesome! Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

My favorite character is the hero, Ben Foley. Don’t get me wrong, I love the heroine, but I put Ben slap bang into his worst nightmare and then expected him to be a hero. He’s not exactly a white knight, in fact he can be pretty cranky, but I love him anyway.

Which element of this story was your favorite to create?

Trying to do justice to the setting while maintaining a certain ‘pace’ was probably the most enjoyable aspect of writing the story, especially after we moved to Canada. And researching puffins. Who doesn’t love puffins?

Yes, they are so cute! Which element of this story was most difficult?

The most difficult aspect to create was portraying Sorcha’s mental state. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but trying to describe what she was hearing/thinking/feeling when she didn’t understand the symptoms herself was much harder than I’d anticipated.

Very intriguing! Please tell us about Sea of Suspicion.

This is the book of my heart :). Sea of Suspicion is a mixture of murder mystery and romance set in the marine lab where I did my Ph.D., and where I met my husband (there wasn’t so much lust and intrigue and adultery in my day—at least not that I knew about). Nick Archer is a tortured hero trying to find the person responsible for his wife’s death more than a decade ago. Juxtaposed against that lovely dark tormented soul is the sweetest heroine I’ve ever written, but even she has secrets that are tearing her apart. I love all the personalities in the lab. I adore Nick’s partner and his chronically ill wife. Sigh.

I’d describe the atmosphere as BBC mystery meets hot romance all to a Rolling Stones soundtrack.

Could you tell us what inspires you about Scotland and how it works as a story setting for romantic suspense? Does the setting become like another character for you? (In case you don't know, I'm a Scotland fanatic.) :)

I’m British (and Canadian as of two months ago :)) and lived in Scotland for 12 years total. My hubby is Irish/Scottish and most of his family lives in Scotland, so it is home in many respects.

The setting is definitely another character for me. I think Scotland works as a modern setting for Romantic Suspense because it oozes personality and atmosphere. From the rugged coasts, to the green fertile fields, the exposed moors, the incredibly beautiful mountains, lochs and glens. It is full of both tumultuous history and modern day drama. My question is why wouldn’t it work as a setting for Romantic Suspense?

I think it would be one of the best settings for contemporary romantic suspense. Like you said, the atmosphere. I see it as a very moody place because of the weather--lots of clouds, rain, fog, wind. The hauntingly beautiful castle ruins and rugged shores. Scotland can at times have a very gothic feeling perfect for suspense. I feel inspired! :) Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?

Yes—join a writing group, preferably full of people who like to write the same sort of books you do. Read some of the excellent writing books out there: Stephen King, Donald Maass, Dwight Swain. And write everyday as much as you can. Get a critique partner and learn the value of both giving and receiving writing advice. And keep going. I think a lot of writers get put off because they have no idea how tough it really is, not just to write a book, but also to find the courage to send it out to industry professionals. Hold on to your dreams and make them come true.

Wonderful advice! What’s next for you?

I have a couple of completed manuscripts in various places. I am currently writing what seems to be turning into a spy novel *rolls eyes at self* set in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan—I know, I know, crazy! It is a romance and features a snow leopard biologist and a SAS soldier. After that I’ll either write another story set in Scotland, or a murder mystery romance that is brewing in Bamfield, Vancouver Island, where I spent 6 weeks this summer. The ideas never stop, I just need to clone myself.

These sound fantastic! Do you have a question for readers?

Where in the world would you want to go--be it reality or fiction?

Thank you for being our guest today, Toni!

Thanks so much for having me today! If readers want to know more I have a website, blog, Facebook Fan Page and personal facebook page where I spend way too much time. I also twitter and have a Newsletter.
10 Responses
  1. Alexa Says:

    Wonderful interview, ladies! Toni, it's great to hear about RS set in Scotland. My very first suspense (long buried under the floorboards) was set in Edinburgh. I still love that story and hope to eventually write more set in Scotland!

    If I could go anywhere, I'd like to see New Zealand. (Of course, I'd go back to Scotland in a heartbeat, though.)

  2. Alexa, Edinburgh is such a cool place to set a story.
    I would also go to NZ. We were in Oz for a while and had the chance for a quick trip to NZ. We decided against it. I don't think you can do justice to the country in 2 days.

  3. Alexa Says:

    Yeah, last time I was in Australia (we have family), I wanted to go to NZ, but I didn't have the money or the time. Someday though!

    Now I am heading to Edinburgh for Hogmanay, so maybe I'll get inspired (even more than I am by your stories!) and start a new suspense set in Scotland come January!

  4. Alexa, have fun! I spent NY in Scotland last year and it was a blast. My hubby brings Hogmanay to Canada. God help us!

  5. Donna Goode Says:

    Great interview Toni and Nicole! I can't wait to read your books, Toni! I'm with Nicole--I know what I'm getting myself for Christmas! Like Alexa, the only other place I care to go, other than Scotland is New Zealand. I have distant cousins there but that isn't the reason. The scenery is simply so dramatic and that is the sole reason. First on my agenda, however, comes the trip back to Scotland.

  6. Carly Carson Says:

    I would go straight to Scotland. Love it. Also love the word 'puffin'. It's just an excellent word. And you named one of my favorite authors - Du Maurier. Frenchmen's Creek. Jamaica Inn. (Oddly, Rebecca is not my favorite.) Anyway, I guess I'd love your books.

  7. Donna, the scenery in NZ looks spectacular. I just found out one of my husband's co workers is going for 3 months with his family. Very exciting for them!

  8. Carly--I'm glad you said that. I don't like Rebecca either. I listened to Mel Gibson read it again recently and thought--I really don't like that story!
    Not that I'm comparing myself to the lady in any way--I mean!! LOL.
    I went to Jamaica Inn on my honeymoon and spent many happy childhood holidays near Du Maurier's home in Cornwall. Another gorgeous spot to visit. Sigh.

  9. Thanks for having me, Nicole. It was so great to visit with everyone!!

  10. Nicole North Says:

    Toni, thanks so much for being our guest today!! I enjoyed it!!

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