Welcome to the cafe Rebecca, thanks for taking time out from writing to chat with us today.
The prized possession you value above all others?
My phone. It sounds terrible to say that because mobile phones have such negative connotations associated with them. But I really do use my phone for so many things. I talk to loved ones through voice calls and texts. I take photos of special moments. I do many business activities such as posting to social media and connecting with readers and fellow authors. I organise the family calendar. I read books through my kindle app. I listen to music. I learn new skills through YouTube. I’ve even been known to write on my phone at times. It really is a whole bunch of useful devices in one, and I’d be lost without it.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity ?
Hand lettering. I am a huge fan of quotes and when those quotes are presented in interesting ways with fancy and complex fonts, I am in visual heaven. My own penmanship used to be atrocious, and I decided some years ago to consciously try to improve. It’s worked to a degree, as long as I write slowly, but I’m still in awe of people who can produce beautifully shaped words with a skilled and steady hand.
The poem that touches your soul?
Invictus by William Ernest Henley. I have a copy of it framed on a shelf in my living area so I can read it whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. There’s a strength and courage in the words that helps me straighten my shoulders and lift my head a little higher. I don’t ever expect to achieve the indomitable spirit described in the poem, but for me it’s a reminder to never give up the fight. I love the poem so much that I wrote it into one of my books (All the Broken Pieces). It helped Harrison, one of the mains in that book, tackle each day in the same way it helps me.
The event that altered the course of your life?
Buying a copy of Shifting Gears by Riley Hart. It was the first MM Romance I ever read. The cover is what originally caught my eye. After reading the blurb, I decided to give it a go. Reading that one book opened me to a whole new genre of romance and I dove headfirst into it. Several years passed before I gathered the courage to try writing in that same genre, but I will always credit that book with putting me on a new path. My life was forever altered by that book.
The song that means the most to you?
Uprising by Muse. I first heard it when I watched a Queer as Folk fanvid on YouTube and I fell in love. It’s a kick-arse song that always gets the blood pumping.
Your early recollections of writing fiction?
I was in Grade 4 when I wrote a story for school. It was a sweeping saga set during the American Civil War (I’d recently watched Gone with the Wind) and featured a brave and beautiful heroine. It had some minor historical inaccuracies (like the heroine finding out the war was over when she heard it on the radio) but I clearly remember getting lost in the telling of that tale. Then, one day, I arrived at school to be told I was supposed to have finished it over the weekend. I hurriedly wrote a ‘and then I woke up’ ending and handed it in. The teacher loved it… except for the disappointing ending. I don’t blame her.
The philosophy that underpins your life?
We don’t rise to the level of our goals. We fall to the level of our systems. Run the right systems and the goals will take care of themselves. – This is something I learned from James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. As with most people, I often feel overwhelmed by everything I need to do to keep all the parts of my life on track. Breaking my goals down into bite-sized chunks helps me manage my time better on a day-to-day basis. Writing a book is huge, but writing 1,000 words is manageable. The steps I take tend to be small, but as long as I keep walking in the right direction I will always end up where I want to be.
And the promo?
Bona Fide Fake is one of those books that was never supposed to exist. I wrote the first book in the Experimental Love series, The Experiment, as a standalone novel. That was supposed to be the end of it. But there was one side character who stood out from the crowd. He had dimples to die for and a deep love of cocktails. He also managed to show a surprising amount of complexity in the two scenes in which he appeared. When The Experiment was released, readers were quick to point him out. They wanted Toni (with an I) to have his own story. How could I resist?
Bona Fide Fake is a fake boyfriends romance with low angst and high heat. It features a graphic designer who’s determined not to ‘fake’ anything and an almost rock star in need of a man who’ll keep him out of trouble. They may not get along, but that won’t stop the sparks from flying. Let the snark begin…