A Fascinating Interview with UK Author, Toni Allen... Reader of The Tarot ... To Help Others ... Simply Fascinating
After a hiatus to complete my forthcoming novel, I am back with Author and New Friend, Toni Allen. She visits from the United Kingdom and has written numerous books, to include 'Visiting Lilly', 'Being Richard' and 'The System of Symbols: A New Way to Look at Tarot'." Toni ... Welcome to the 'Anything But a Tired Barn'... We have the All Authors e-Magazine to thank for introducing us ... And encouraged us to share. Welcome to all indeed....
TA: Mitch, Thanks for hosting me ...
GMB: Let's start with a favorite Excerpt from your work... Something you would really like to share with your readers ... and readers we'd like to encourage, to delve further into your stories.
TA: This is a favourite ... The opening scene in 'Being Richard'...
The little ones were always easy to spot. A vigil of small black headstones, tucked away at the back of the cemetery, their teddies and trains weather beaten; the gold faded. Twilight and rain drops shrouded them in pathos, but come dusk the solar lights would flicker on, permanent candles used as protective sprites to ward demons away from these precious spirits. Such short lives, their pasts a heartbeat in time, their names etched in granite to live on forever. If I was lucky and could find someone suitable I would be able to help him live on far longer than his grieving parents ever imagined.
GMB: Wonderful ... A great read from you ... To change things up a little ... Perhaps learn something more about you ... Tell us about yourself (before we start figuring it all out) *grins*.
TA: I work as a professional tarot reader and astrologer. To many people that may sound like a crazy profession and slightly off the wall...
GMB: Not at all ... fascinating ... please enlighten us...
TA: Thank You Mitch ... My work primarily involves counselling people and helping them through the tough times in life. Sometimes it’s hard work, the same as with any job, and at other times there are a lot of laughs and some great times to be had. I go and give talks to various clubs and groups, as well as offering private sittings, and I get to meet many, many wonderful people.
In my non-working time I write, and follow my other passions which are gardening and photography. I’m a big fan of nature, so you’ll find me walking around the local countryside stalking the wildlife with my camera. I often come across fellow photographers and we have a fine old time chatting about cameras and swapping notes on which birds or insects we've seen.
For pure entertainment I go out for dinner once a week with a friend of mine, and we play the card game cribbage. If anyone here has never played cribbage you really should give it a go, because it’s fun, and we never take things too seriously. I mean, how can I get competitive, when my friend always gets lucky and usually beats me?!
GMB: Nice ... Time well-spent ... Tell us ... What were you doing the last time you looked at a clock and realized you had lost all track of time?
TA: A few nights ago. I worked until really late and the other night I stopped at about midnight, made a cup of tea, and thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll write for an hour before bed.’ Next time I glanced at the clock it was 5 am! Whoops!
GMB: Not so ... You know mystical ... That's an author thing... Write, tea ... Oh its tomorrow and I just wrote 4,000 words of sheer brilliance ... That is until the editors have their say ... *Cheeky grin* Toni ... Please describe your latest book ...Share with is us why we here in the ‘Anything But a Tired Barn’ will read your newest material and enjoy it.
TA: 'Visiting Lilly' is a mystery/thriller with a paranormal twist. Available this autumn...
GMB: Now we're talking ... paranormal mystery with thrills ... *smiles in a successfully sinister manner*
TA: Detective Inspector Jake Talbot investigates a seemingly innocent visitor to a residential care home for the elderly, and uncovers a dangerous family hiding a forbidden romance that crosses the boundaries of time.
The story opens with a young man of twenty seven, attempting to visit an old lady, Lilly, in a care home. It seems like an easy enough request, but young Frankie is chased away. When Lilly’s grandson makes a complaint to the police, Detective Inspector Jake Talbot simply cannot understand the problem. So, he pokes his nose in, and discovers that Frankie is exceptionally intelligent, but somewhere off the normal spectrum. One of Frankie’s bizarre beliefs is that he’s been visiting Lilly in the past, when she was young and beautiful.
To a down-to-earth cop like Talbot this is all crazy mumbo-jumbo, but he likes Frankie and can’t see why he shouldn't visit Lilly. As both Lilly and Frankie’s families add pressure to keep the two of them apart, Talbot digs deeper and deeper. Murder is mentioned, and suddenly Talbot is forced to work on his own, away from all the back-up and support he’s been used to having.
Christmas is fast approaching and Talbot’s personal traumas are always triggered by seasonal memories. His colleagues say he’s washed-up as a cop, finished; not knowing his extended leave is a cover. Talbot goes it alone, risking everything.
Anyone who has a heart will enjoy reading Visiting Lilly. It’s a traditional mystery thriller with Frankie and Lilly’s romance as the hub of the story. All they want to do is see each other, but Lilly is very old and might die before they ever get a chance to meet. There’s a race against time, and a no-nonsense compassionate detective unraveling the mystery, methodically, and at times, with searing dry humour.
GMB: And when and where will we find 'Visiting Lilly'?
TA: 'Visiting Lilly' is currently at the pre-production editing stage. Booktrope team members working on the novel alongside me have already said how the story has moved them to both laughter and tears.
GMB: "Wonderful to hear," *smiling*
TA: 'Visiting Lilly' is being published by Booktrope, and will be available this autumn.
GMB: Sounds inspired ... Inspiring for the others ... Tell us ... Where and/or how do you find the greatest inspiration for your writing?
TA: Characters present themselves to me during my quieter times, while walking in the countryside or falling asleep. They are usually doing something of interest so I observe them until I learn more about them. I ask myself who they are, and watch as their story unfolds. This process usually takes many months, and I don't write anything down until I have a very good idea of what their story is all about.
GMB: Why write in the genre you choose? What is it you like about this genre?
TA: I enjoy writing cross-genre material, as in mystery/thriller with some paranormal, because in my line of work I experience a lot of things that are outside other people's understanding. Writing gives me the opportunity to explore some of these phenomena and describe them happening in a very mainstream, traditional context.
GMB: What concern, if any do you have about any of your book releases to date….
TA: I currently have two books on Tarot published.
The 'System of Symbols, a new way to look at tarot', is what you’d describe as my flagship book on tarot. It isn't a ‘cookbook’ of interpretations, it explains why each card means what is does, and how to use the cards in a reading. It also associates the tarot cards with the Bach Flower Remedies, so that people reading tarot can use the healing properties of the remedies to help themselves and others.
GMB: I like it...
TA: This book grew out of my teaching notes, and I've since taught people all over the world how to read tarot, using this book as their basic study book.
Later this year (as of June 2014) The 'System of Symbols' is being launched, translated into Italian, by an Italian publisher of spiritual books Spazio Interiore. I’m absolutely thrilled by this as they approached me and asked if they could publish it in Italian.
My other book on tarot is entitled Sex & Tarot. I’ve been a tarot reader for 30 years and it never ceased to amaze me that when discussing relationships clients would go very pink in the face when I mentioned their sexual fulfillment, or lack of it, within their personal relationships. So, I decided that it was time to bring the subject out into the open. It’s very difficult for a relationship to be whole and happy if the sex life is unsatisfactory.
Sex & Tarot is lighthearted and explores how tarot can be used to judge whether someone you’re dating, or in a committed relationship with, will be sexually compatible.
When I first published Sex & Tarot I was concerned that I’d gather a following of sexual stalkers, but thankfully it hasn't been like that at all. Fellow tarot readers have praised me for bringing this awkward subject to light, and writing about it in a very accessible manner.
GMB: Kudos for the courage Toni... And, you have 'Being Richard' in your bibliography as well.
TA: In my novel 'Being Richard' I write about a very ordinary guy who just happens to be an immortal. With this I am working on the premise that unless you have known somebody since birth you can never know their true history. I mean, your next door neighbour might be immortal, but you’re simply unaware of it! I also really enjoyed creating Sunbeerka’s (aka Richard) character and trying to understand what it would feel like to be 2562 years old while appearing to be 30. A lot of immortal stories cover where someone has been, and what they have seen, whereas I wanted to explore the psychology of my character. How does it feel to live on while every friend you ever make dies? How much grief can a man take, knowing it will happen time, and time, again?
GMB: Which appears first when contemplating a new project: a character, the plot, or the title?
TA: It’s always a character, who does not necessarily have to be the main protagonist, but sometimes I have seeds of ideas floating around, or even a title, and then a character conveniently pops along who fits with the theme I wish to write about.
GMB: What is the hardest part of a novel for you to write? The beginning, middle, or end? Why?
TA: It has to be the saggy middle! Writing the beginning of a novel is always fun and exciting with a lot of forward momentum. The end I always have in my head before I start writing the beginning, but there is that awkward middle section where the pace and interest needs to be maintained, so that I encourage my readers to reach the exciting climax.
Often the middle section of a novel involves a lot of unfoldment of character relating to the start of the work, and if I have been clever enough, the reader should start to see some of the foreshadowing I placed earlier giving them hints as to the plot's potential resolution.
GMB: Tell us about a time when you, as an author had to slog your way through a ton of work. What was it and how did you get through it?
TA: Ha ha! I am currently in that process. Right now we are at the editing stage of my latest novel, 'Visiting Lilly'. As tight as I believe my plot is my editor throws up questions regarding character motivation, where a person is situated within a scene, and, good old punctuation. We are working through the novel chapter by chapter and pass the work back and forth three times each before we class it as finalised. This, as you can imagine, is very time-consuming. Fortunately along the way my editor is quick to praise when she really loves a scene, or piece of dialogue, and we have lots of laughs over quirky errors we both make.
Tea is definitely helping me through this task, as well as being able to laugh at my own mistakes, along with that wonderful sense of achievement when each document is completed to my editor's satisfaction. Yippee!
GMB: Oh I have so been there ... Done that... *grins* Has your own life influenced your novels? If so, please tell us how … perhaps give us an example?
TA: Yes. Divining for, and analysing, so many people has brought me a strong appreciation of the complexity of people's personalities, the road that led them to be who they are, and the dynamics of how they relate with others. I use my observations to add breadth and depth to my characters. It isn't simply a character’s back story that is important, but how it has influenced them.
Being born psychic has definitely influenced my novels. Psychic experiences, which to me are quite normal, have impressed upon me that there is more to this world than meets the eye. I recall one instance, in my writing group, when I read out a piece in which I had a death scene and described the man’s friend, ‘hearing the hush as the soul left his body.’ One group member flew at me and said ‘you simply don’t experience it like that,’ and continued to rant about how she had never felt her mother’s passing, even though she was in the same room. Fortunately I have only witnessed death with my pets, but each time I have known and seen when the soul left the body, which is why I described it as I did in my writing.
GMB: Who is your favorite character you have created? Why this character?
TA: I think it has to be Detective Inspector Jake Talbot in Visiting Lilly. As much as I love Sunbeerka (aka Richard) in 'Being Richard', Talbot is so real and has such a dry sense of humour that you can feel the pain in his life coming through his thoughts; and that appeals to me. He’s a proud and private man, bottling up much from his past; but for all his knocks he’s never lost touch with his own ability to be kind and compassionate.
He’s also rather good at subtly twisting the rules to suit himself, but never crossing the line, hence his superintendent’s main complaint is, ‘I don’t approve of your methods.’ Sometimes Talbot sacrifices his own desires for the good of someone else; and that’s a quality to be admired in any man.
Talbot has two hobbies, antiques and genealogy, both subjects I’m interested in, so it’s always exciting to discover that his taste is very different from mine. Would I have that in my antiques collection? Maybe not, but it suits Talbot’s taste and personality.
GMB: Please describe a favorite setting from you published works ... Fascinate us … Tell us more…
TA: My absolute favourite setting is Thundry Meadows from 'Being Richard'.
Towards the edge of Surrey, near the Hampshire border, lies the rural village of Elstead. If you follow the River Wey Westwards you’ll arrive at Thundry Meadows, an ancient sacred site dedicated to the God Thor.
It’s a real, local beauty spot, and is steeped in history. The idea for Being Richard came to me because I’d visited the location quite a few times because my ancestors were born in Elstead. I recall sitting by the banks of the meandering River Wey and wondering what the ancient tribe who used to live there had been like. Artifacts dated to nearly two thousand years ago have been unearthed from the site, and many local places contain references to the god Thor. One being Thursley which means lea of the god Thunor (Thor).
The character of Sunbeerka appeared to me at quite a different time, and it was only by sitting with him and watching him that I realised he was one of the people who used to live at Thundry Meadow. In Being Richard he lives in Elstead but was born at Thundry Meadows, the birthing tree now a Pillbox built during the war.
If you ever want to visit, do ask a local for directions, because the entrance to Thundry Meadows is in plain sight, but very difficult to spot! Drop me a line and I’ll show you the way.
GMB: Thank You ... I'll do just that ... Now tell us something to really get us interested in reading and sharing one of your stories with others…
TA: Is it possible for the spirit to leave the body and travel to a different time and place? I, personally, don’t see why this isn’t possible, having had various experiences myself and having heard a plethora of stories from my clients.
In 'Visiting Lilly', Jake Talbot is a plain speaking, down to earth, Detective Inspector, who certainly believes in facts and would never consider crossing the line into what he calls ‘heebie-jeebie.’He’s a policeman through and through. Facts. Tangible evidence. Those are what he deals with. Hence, when he encounters a young man, Frankie Hayward, who claims to have been Visiting Lilly in the past, when she was young and beautiful, Talbot is forced to suspend disbelief and get to the facts.
Is Frankie Hayward lying, or will Talbot have the shock of his life?
GMB: Wonderful ... For fun … If 'Visiting Lilly' were made into a movie, who would play the leading roles?
TA: He’s probably a little too old now, but the English actor Shaun Evans, would make a superb Frankie Hayward from 'Visiting Lilly'. (With his hair died and some brown contact lenses!) Evans is such a talented and versatile actor, and in one role I saw him make the little bashful gesture that Frankie does. Currently Evans is playing young Inspector Morse in the TV series Endeavour, but if you watch some of his more obscure earlier work you’ll see what I mean.
GMB: Nice ... and you have offered a Synopsis for 'Visiting Lilly' to share:
TA: Yes ... May I read...
GMB: Of course ... Of course... *smiles*
DI Jake Talbot is a burnt-out British detective given a second chance to believe in love, friendship, and the transcendent power of human experience. When he investigates a seemingly innocent visitor to a residential care home for the elderly, he uncovers a greedy and deadly family who want to hide a forbidden romance that somehow crosses time. The family act ruthlessly to prevent Talbot from discovering the secrets surrounding an unsolved murder and betrayal. At the core of the mystery is an elderly woman, imprisoned by her own grandson, and the keenly intelligent, if admittedly odd, young man who is in love with her. Talbot sets out to right the many wrongs done to the blameless, and in turn rediscovers his own humanity.
GMB: The making of a great story ... Looking forward to its release. Where do you see your writing career in the next five to ten years?
TA: I've made so much progress this year, with two of my books being picked up by publishers, that I envisage my writing career going from strength to strength. More books are always in the pipeline, so growth and expanding my fan base are definitely in view for my novels. When 'Visiting Lilly' is launched we’ll be running loads of competitions and give-aways, so if you’re not a fan already, come and test the waters by joining me at my FB Author Page.
GMB: Now so important in this day-and-age ... You have offered various ways to contact you through the Internet and SOcial Networks...
TA: Yes ... Thank You Mitch ... Please find me on my Author Website http://toniallenbooks.com/
I also have an Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/VisitingLillybyToniAllen and I've got a pretty hot Twitter page as well https://twitter.com/Listansus *Mischevious grin* I am also on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/toniallenauthor and I have fun with Pinterest too: http://gb.pinterest.com/listansus/ Finally, please look for my Event page when it is time for Visiting Lilly to truly visit: It will be associated with https://www.facebook.com/VisitingLillybyToniAllen
GMB: And to purchase... We have the Live Links throughout your Interview, but just in case...
TA: Again, Thank You Mitch ... Purchase Link(s): For 'Being Richard' include http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Richard-Toni-Allen-ebook/dp/B00A0KXLC4/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402437472&sr=1-8&keywords=toni+allen
Publisher Link: This is the publisher for 'Visiting Lilly', available this autumn. http://booktrope.com/
GMB: Toni ... Thank You so much for visiting and sharing with us today. It has been a real pleasure to meet you and learn about your work ... And how you help others...
TA: And Thank You for hosting me Mitch ... And let us not forget to Thank Jazz at All-Authors e-Magazine (New York) for introducing us, and making all this possible.
GMB: Most definitley ... When this started I was living in Alabama ... I am now in western Canada ... Jazz between New York and Florida ... The Global Village! Thank You Jazz... Thank You Toni... You've all been the Very Best!
Author and Host, G. Mitchell Baker has practiced law for more than twenty years and enjoys researching and writing projects that draw him into the many genres, to include contemporary fiction, science fiction, and paranormal works. For further introduction, please continue through this Website, and visit G Mitchell Baker's Author Page on Facebook as well as his Amazon Author Page.
Amazon Author Page for G. Mitchell Baker
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Interviews with authors and friends