Sunday, November 29, 2009

[Interview: Part 2 of 2] Tonia Brown

Earlier, Tonia Brown talked about the books she's written and published.

In the final part of this interview, she talks about her concerns as a writer:

When did you start writing?

I have always written creatively in one from or another, for as long as I can remember.

I used to write a fair amount of poetry, and still turn to the task from time to time. I toyed for a number of years with the idea of writing longer works, a story or perhaps even a book, but always abandoned it after reading something from one of my favorite authors and realizing that I could never produce work that good.

Then, about four years ago, I was at my third shift job reading some new book by some new author, whose name I shall leave to the imagination. Even at four in the morning I could tell the book lacked substance, style and character. Yet I had paid full price for the thing and was reading it from cover to cover. It was at that point I decided that I had a story to tell and maybe it was time to get it out there.

So I penned a full-length novel in the next year and set about to find an agent.

The reality of how terribly hard it is to get published hit me hard, like so many other new authors to the craft, and I nearly gave up. A friend of mine stepped in and suggested e-publishers, and I gave it a shot.

I have had a moderate amount of success in the e-book field, with two full-length novels and several novellas accepted for publication so far. I also turned my hand to short stories, which have also been a great experience for me.

How would you describe your writing ?

Funny, sharp, horrifying, erotic.

I like to leave the reader with a sense of wonder or terror, depending on what the tale involves.

Who is your target audience?

Depends on which personality you address.

As Tonia Brown, I write for the speculative fiction audience. I lean toward horror, but have been known to turn out a sci-fi and fantasy piece every so often. I write for this audience because I am a part of it.

As Regina Riley, I write all forms of romance, from sweet to erotic. I began to write for this genre on a dare, and I enjoyed it so much I stuck with it!

Which authors influenced you most?

Neil Gaiman is the largest influence on me as a writer. I love his classic style and ability to cross genres as though the lines aren’t even there. I have said many a time, if there was one person I would love to have my work mistaken for, it would be Gaiman.

Along with Gaiman I am a huge [Edgar Allan] Poe fan. You have to love a man that can blame a murder on a monkey!

I’m also a fan of H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, and Isaac Asimov.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

I grew up as a military B.R.A.T. and an identical twin, both of which really affected the way I view the world.

As a military family, we moved a lot. I never got the chance to make lifelong bonds with folks, but I learned that you had to make new friends quickly or get left out of the loop so to speak. I think this comes out in my writing a bit, especially the easy way new people meet and immediately open up without much prompting. It may seem unrealistic to some, but that’s how we grew up.

As a twin, I have always been slightly co-dependent. When I married, I shifted this burden onto my husband, and he bares the weight like an old pro. I feel this comes across in my work because I tend to favor characters that feel incomplete, until they meet their true love, of course!

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Making sure the reader can identify with a character. There is nothing worse than reading a book where you don’t care what happens to the characters. I try to give mine some personality, and history. Hopefully you come away feeling like you’ve read a detailed description of something that happened to a friend, as apposed to a tale about a complete stranger.

As an independent writer, I think the largest challenge I face is lack of self-confidence. I have trouble selling myself. I know my work is good. I can see it on the paper. I can feel it in my bones. But when asked if it’s any good I will more than likely say, “It's okay.”

Who wants to read okay?

I should scream how great it is, but my self-doubt kicks in and shuts me up. I’ve been trying to work on this, but I don’t know if I’ll ever overcome it.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

A reader once told me she had to take a smoke break between chapters because the scenes were so hot for her.

One reader let me know how much she cried at one of my books. She said this happened in front of a break room full of other employees who were very curious as to why she was weeping.

Another told me that her husband received some much needed affection after she finished reading The Blooming. She even passed along his thanks!

Any time someone reads and enjoys what I have written, I’ve achieved more than I ever thought possible. Anything else is really just icing. Although I must admit, I am an icing fan!

Possibly related books:

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Related article:

[Interview: Part 1 of 2] Tonia Brown, Conversations with Writers, November 28, 2009

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