Toni has lived in the South for 30 years, the Midwest for another 30, on the pacific Coast for 10 years, and she's now trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. Presently, she lives in Lincoln, NE. She works as a promotions manager for Class Act Books, and has published 74 novels in fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. I've worked with her for almost a year now promoting my first book, and she has been a joy and an amazing resource. Please welcome to Nifty Newly, speculative fiction author Toni V. Sweeney.
What's the title of the book you're currently working on?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on Retribution, the 13th entry in the Arcanian Chronicles series, a sci-fi/fantasy which is written in two parts and will have a total of 16 novels.
How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? What genre?
Counting reprints, I’ve had around 74 novels published. I have 2 that are WIPs and therefore not published yet. One is a paranormal, the other a contemporary romance. I’ve a list of 56 novels I want to write and I’m working my way through the list. I’ve already written 22 of them.
What inspires you, as a writer?
Just about anything.
How do you come up with names?
Since a good many of my novels are fantasy/sci-fi, I like to take the original forms of names and use them. When I do that, I’ll write in a scene somewhere when a character mentions his/her name and how to pronounce it to help the reader along if the name looks difficult.
How do you come up with ideas?
Someone may say something to trigger a thought; I might see a movie and decide I could make a better ending. Once I dreamed of a character and ended up writing a horror novel called Serpent’s Tooth.
Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important?
Someone once said there are no original ideas. They all boil down to the same theme. It’s what the writer does with that theme, where he gives it that little twist making it different enough that it stands out or makes the reader coming back for more.
What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction?
I’ve two I consider originals. One is the Adventures of Sinbad, where I took my favorite (at that time) tv show Beauty and the Beast (1980’s version) and transformed Vincent into Sinbad sh’en Singh, a humanoid feline smuggler who becomes the eighth richest man in the galaxy. That was to be a one-shot story and ended up as a series of 8 novels.
The other would be Bride of the Beast. From the title, it sounds as if it’s going to be a Grade-B horror movie (actually there was a Grade-B horror movie by that name), but in reality, it’s the story of the Golden Calf…or, in this instance, the Golden Lion. When Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites made a golden calf, the Egyptian goddess Hathor. My question was: What if there was a second faction within the camp who made a different statue, that of Maahdes, the lion king? What would’ve been their punishment? Something much worse than being forced to wander 40 years in the wilderness, you can bet.
That involved a great deal of research, both into ancient Egyptian as well as Judaism. I guess I managed what I intended because one of my reviewers was Jewish and she said I was spot-in in my portrayal of Judaic custom and ritual.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your work with us, Toni! Her most recent novel, Sinbad's War, was released April 15 by Class Act Books. We've included an excerpt from the novel for your enjoyment.
Sinbad sh’en Singh, smuggler-turned-shipping magnate, has become quite the family man, knee-deep in offspring and complacent with his life...but Fate is about to interfere...
Terra is again at war, attacked by the Severani, members of an aggressively militant planet daring to challenge the Federation.
That was the enemy’s first mistake.
Bombardment of other Federation planets follow...then they invade Felida, and among the casualties are the people Sin holds most dear...
...and that is the final and fatal mistake.
The hostile Severani are about to discover there’s nothing quite so dangerous as a Felidan who’s lost his mate...especially if his name’s Sinbad sh’en Singh.
Excerpt from Sinbad’s War:
The young man jumped to his feet, staring at the tall figure who stopped, looking down at him.
Nils Van Lewen considered himself tall, but the man coming through the door was a giant. He was also the first Felidan Nils had ever seen. Nothing had prepared him for this…
The creature said, “I’m Sinbad sh’en Singh. You wanted to see me?”
Nils stared up at him.
Before he realized it, he stuttered, like a fool, “G-G--, you’re tall!”
More than once he’d used his own height to intimidate someone and now he knew how that felt.
“We all are.” A slight smile touched the giant’s mouth, revealing another shock.
He leaned against the desk, arms crossed over his chest. “What do you want…” Green eyes flicked to the insignia on his right shoulder. “…captain?”
Good G--, they looked like a cat’s. The young man’s thoughts were a jumble.
“Van Lewen…Nils Van Lewen, Captain, Federation Armed Services.”
Thank God, he sounds like a Terran, speaks Inglaterre well, too. No accent at all.
“I don’t want to seem rude, but I’ve a business to run. I’d appreciate it if you’d state your purpose in being here so I can get back to it.” Sin stared at Nils expectantly.
Nils stared back.
“Well?” There was a hint of impatience in the deep voice.
“I’m sorry, but I was told you were paraplegic,” the young officer began, then shook his head as he realized the statement came out sounding like an accusation.
His assignment seemed so easy. Go to Felida, talk to the invalid owner of sh’en Singh Shipping, an old man partially paralyzed, dazzle him with Federation authority. Already nothing was going as it should.
“You are Andrew Malcom McAllister? Sinbad sh’en Singh?”
“I am,” Sin answered, a little brusquely. “And all that moving around you’ve witnessed is merely the work of a very finely-programmed micro-computer implant.”
For another minute Nils continued staring before bursting into explanation. “I’m going to get right to the point, Mr. McAllis…uh…sh’en Singh…sir.”
“I’m waiting.” Sin didn’t hide his sarcasm.
“Terra’s at war.”
“Am I supposed to be surprised? What else is new?” Sin shrugged. “Who’s the unlucky aggressor this time?”
“A planet called Severan.” Nils ignored his sarcasm.
“Never heard of it.”
“Not many people have. It’s a small world in the Drexus Cluster. A petty bunch of blackbirders barely surviving in the slave trade until about fifty years ago, when a dissident faction overthrew the emperor and set about establishing a military-controlled planet.”
“And they’ve been stupid enough to attack Terra? I doubt Earth attacked them.” Sin went on, before Nils could answer. “Tell me, has there ever been a conflict in which Earth was the aggressor? Still, fifty years isn’t long enough to get the military power to attack a planet that size.”
“That’s what the Federation thought when it was told a fleet of Severani warships were headed toward Terra, but they were wrong.” Nils shook his head. He got to his feet again. “The Severanis have devoted themselves entirely to building up their armed forces, sacrificing public welfare and natural resources to achieve their goal…and they succeeded. The attack on Earth was not only successful, but there was a sixty-five percent destruction rate in the areas hit and a severe loss of life. They fire-strafed both coasts. If the Federation hadn’t had that brief warning of the attack, the war might’ve been lost and won right then.” He shuddered.
“Damn.” Sin breathed the word. “I never thought I’d hear anyone say that. But they retaliated?”
“Of course, what else could they do?”
“Of course.” Once more that ironic tone.
“Nevertheless, this fight’s going to be a bad one. The Severanis are well-trained, dedicated, and fanatical in sacrificing for the Mother Planet.”
“This is all very interesting, Captain Van Lewen.” Sin went around the desk, dropping into the chair behind it. He frowned at the look of wonder still lingering in the young man’s eyes. “But what exactly does it have to do with me and mine?”
“The Fed’s sending officers like myself to members of the Federation, setting up enlistment stations.”
“I see.” Those two words weren’t encouraging.
“We’re going to need all the man-power we can get for this one. If we don’t get volunteers, we’ll have to start inductions, and they don’t want to do that. We haven’t had a true draft in three hundred years.” He carefully omitted mentioning the conscription in effect during the Terro-Felidan War.
“Quite frankly, with so many worlds involved, I doubt it could be effectively enforced.”
“You want to set up this enlistment station in Khurda?” Sin struggled to glean information from what Van Lewen wasn’t saying.
The young man nodded.
“Why come to me?” Sin spread his hands. “I’m merely a humble merchant. You should be talking to the emperor.”
“I have, sir, or at least his representative. Before I landed. His Excellency gave his permission, but told me since Khurda, as the largest pride on Felida, was chosen as the site, I had to get the Pride Chief’s permission also. You’re anything but a humble merchant, sir.”
And you damn well know it, Nils thought.
Sinbad’s slight smile said so.
“So, here I am,” Nils finished.
“I’ve very little love for the Federation, Captain Van Lewen, and consider myself having no loyalty to it, either.” His answer was short and sharp. “This business now called sh’en Singh Shipping was originally a smuggling operation illegally supplying goods while we thumbed our noses at the Fed.”
“I’m aware of that, sir.”
Damn, the kid’s so polite, I want to deck him. How can I continue being rude to someone sounding so respectful?
“We…” Van Lewen’s expression changed to one of absolute terror. He swallowed convulsively and cleared his throat. “We were hoping you’d volunteer your ships, sir.” It came out in a near-whisper.
“My ships?” Sin’s exclamation exploded into the air.
Nils jumped, knowing his reaction wasn’t very officer-like. “Y-yes sir. You see, your darters are nothing more than modified Federation Thunderbolts, and your pilots are already combat-trained and if we had them…”
Sin glared at him.
“…we wouldn’t have to waste time training a Felidan Defense Force…to…” His voice trailed away.
“A Felidan Defense Force.” Sin laughed. “Isn’t that contradictory? According to the Peace Proclamation between Terra and Felida, we aren’t allowed to have a defense force. I suppose technically, my having these darters to protect my cargo ships is also in violation of the Treaty.”
“That part of the Proclamation’s been amended, sir,” Nils answered.
Sin frowned. “And…?”
Nils shook his head as if he didn’t understand.
“…do I need to remind you Felida isn’t a member of the United Terran Federation?” Sin’s voice went bitter. “No animals are allowed.”
“A special act of the PanGalactic Congress was passed before I left Terra. It also revoked the Federation Edict declaring Felidans non-humans, giving them First Class citizenship and bringing Felida into membership.”
“That generous move wouldn’t be just to get my ships, would it? Well, you can’t have them.”
Realizing he was wringing his fingers in a completely unofficer-like manner, Nils looked down at them and forced their nervous movement to cease.
The Felidan stood up, towering over him again. His ears seemed to flatten slightly, eyes narrowing.
Nils wanted to cower against the wall, but managed to stand still. His reactions had probably already disgraced the Federation and the uniform he wore. He hoped he wasn’t about to void his bladder, too. He definitely felt weak in the belly-region. Trying to do so without being obvious, he pressed his thighs together, grateful his tunic-tail covered that area of his body.
“I’m overjoyed I’m now a true citizen of the Federation.” Sin’s reply was deep and sarcastic. “I’m certain my wife’ll be greatly relieved to know she’s no longer sleeping with an animal, but you aren’t getting my ships, Captain Van Lewen. You’re here on sufferance, so be thankful you’re being allowed to stay at all.”
Buy Links (check 'em out!):
Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/sinbad-s-war-detail