Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In the hotseat...TONI L.P. KELNER!

Meow! My guest today is author Toni P. Kelner!
Toni LP Kelner is an award-winning author of two mystery series: the eight Laura Fleming novels, which include: Wed and Buried, Death of a Damn Yankee, Tight as a Tick, and several others; and the Where Are They Now? series, which debuted in January 2008 with Without Mercy. She has also edited two urban fantasy anthologies with Charlaine Harris and has contributed to the soon to be released, DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!
And now…Toni!
R:  Welcome Toni! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
 Thank you, ROCCO!  My first career goal was to be a ballerina, but I had to stop lessons in fifth grade. So after a lot of mind-changing, I settled on writing.
 I started writing because I wanted to have adventures, at least vicarious ones. I think I made the right choice. Having real adventures is a lot more painful than just writing about them.
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
 I know this is trite, but I suspect every writer I’ve ever read influences me—even if just to give me an example of what not to do. My first loves were Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Isaac Asimov, and I later added mystery greats Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, Fredric Brown, and Rex Stout. Sad to say, I don’t think I write like any of those people.
R: Tell us about your upcoming release, DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.  What’s it like to work with Charlaine Harris?
 Dead But Not Forgotten is an anthology of stories set in the world of Sookie Stackhouse from Charlaine’s phenomenal series. Each of the contributors picked a character from the Sookieverse and created their own story. So Maryjanice Davidson writes about Eric Northman, Dana Cameron writes about Pam, Seanan McGuire writes about Amelia the witch, and so on. People really went to town, too. My own story, written under my pen name Leigh Perry, is about Diantha, the half-demon.
 Charlaine and I have done a number of anthologies, but the difference with this one is that it’s coming out as an original audio book from Audible. So that was a different kind of process. It will come out later this year as a hardcover from Ace Books.
 Working with Charlaine is great fun. This was our seventh project together, and we keep waiting for one of those awful fights collaborators are known to have, but it just hasn’t happened. We like each other too much, and we respect each other just as much. I never expected to add collaborator or anthologist to my writing resume, but I’m sure glad I have.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
 I’m old school. I found my agent by sending out a zillion query letters until I got a bite. Snail mail, not e-mail! So if you’re looking for a literary agent and don’t have connections in the field, do not be discouraged. I got one, and goodness knows I didn’t know a soul!
 And oh, that moment when that agent called to tell me the book had sold. Bliss! In fact, it was a three-book contract, which is common with mysteries. I came home from work, found a message from my agent on my answering machine, and returned it without taking a breath. I was trying to be so professional, but I’m sure I sounded like a complete idiot as she gave me the details. For extra added bliss, I was being offered a three-book deal!
 As soon as I got off the phone, I was in a panic to tell somebody, but I knew I had to tell my husband first. He was on his way home on the subway, and this was before everybody had cell phones, so all I could do was watch for him. Every few minutes I’d think something like, “Maybe I should call my parents.” I’d head for the phone, but then say, “No, I have to tell Steve first.” This went on for an eternity. Finally I saw him coming down the sidewalk and ran out to meet him, jumping up and down and yelling, “Three books!” He jumped up and down, too, but he actually thought I was saying “Free books!” which would also have been cool.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
 A computer, or an iPad with keyboard, and decent light. I do play a few games as warm-up, and like having access to the internet for immediate research, but that’s about it. Oh, and I go through a lot of diet soda.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
 I’m not sure—I don’t know what my readers think about me. Oh, how’s this? I write about murder, and paranormal creatures who live on blood, but I actually get queasy at the sight of blood.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
 Does quitting a pretty good day job to write fulltime count? When I was pregnant?
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
 A smile. Not just from humor, though my work does tend to have that, but from being entertained and surprised and satisfied with the work.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m going dark! I’ve been invited to write a vampire story for an anthology, but instead of my usual urban fantasy, this is supposed to be full-on horror. I’ve never done that before.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Pantser. I outlined when asked by my editor, but I find having an outline next to me just bothers me. So if it’s required, I write it and then stick it in a drawer where I can’t see it. No editor has ever noticed how little the finished product has to do with the outline.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
Reading! Also I drive back and forth to my daughter’s school and here many activities. I watch TV (loving Agents of SHIELD, movies (more on DVD than in theaters), and play computer games (the sissy kind, without shooting or blood).
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
 Read, read, read. Read in your genre, and read in other genres. Fiction and nonfiction. Good stuff and bad. The more words and stories and ideas that you feed into your brain, the better the stuff will be that comes out on the page. Or the computer screen!
R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
The rest of the Game of Thrones series. I finished the first book last week, but had to finish a set of copy edits before I could start the next.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)
Though I am in awe of the magnificence of the feline form, I am sadly allergic to them. So…guinea pig.
Beach or Pool?  
Steak or salad? 
Favorite Drink? 
Diet Dr. Pepper / Iced tea / Diet Coke
Favorite Book?
As if I could pick just one! But I’ll throw out one early favorite: Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert Heinlein.
Favorite TV Series?
Classic? Either Star Trek: The Next Generation or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Current? Agents of SHIELD with Once Upon a Time a close second.
Favorite Movie?
Why do you torture me so? Hopscotch.
Favorite Actor:
Robert Downey Jr.
Favorite Actress:
Jodie Foster
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?
Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska?
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be ___________________
Joss Whedon
If I had just one wish, it would be_________________________________________
That my sister hadn’t had cancer. She passed away in December 2012, and I’m still angry about it.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be _______
Not a soul on earth. I love my family, I love my work, I love my home.
Here are all the places you can find Toni:
Facebook: Toni L.P. Kelner & Leigh Perry
Twitter: @Tonilpkelner and @Family_Skeleton
 Toni will giveaway a code with which you can download a copy of Gone But Not Forgotten from Audible Books. (Don’t worry: If you’re not an audio book listener, she’ll send along a copy of Games Creatures Play, which is the anthology from Toni and Charlaine Harris that came out in April, instead.) Leave a comment in the comments section and list your preference of audio book or anthology. Please, please, also leave your email addy! Entries without them are disqualified, and we hate to do that, meow!
For extra entries you can:
* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow Toni LP Kelner on Twitter or FB
Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, May 17!Good luck!


  1. Love your work. Audio please. Following on FB and Twitter.
    mobn @ heedles . net

  2. Following blog, twitter, and liked your FB page. @Pallitine - prefer Audio

  3. auditgirl2010 @ gmail dot com wants print
    osolemio1007 at comcast dot net wants audio!

  4. I was here DAYS ago; but I guess it didn't take? I could not resist getting all of we "Tonis" together. I even friended her on FB, what gives?
    I had just read about Dead But Not Forgotten on another contributor's blog, and I wish Toni(guest) continued success, as I do Toni,(Human).

    I tweeted,I shared on FB, I am a Follower on FB and Twitter, of Rocco, and Toni L.P.K., I am a Friend of Toni(Human and Toni (guest)
    Are you confused yet, Rocco?LOL!