Toni Sweeney was born in Georgia. Her writing career began during an extended convalescence following an automobile accident. Since her recovery, she has survived hurricanes in the South, tornados and snow-covered winters in the Midwestern United States and currently lives amid the sunshine, earthquakes, and forest fires of Orange County, California.Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?
Toni: I write mostly in space opera and fantasy with romance thrown in. My excuse for focusing on these genres is that in either, you can make up worlds, characters and customs, and if it’s in another dimension or on another planet, no one can really claim you’re incorrect in what’s you’ve said.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Toni: I had some very good teachers both in elementary school and in college. My seventh grade teacher, Lucille Comer, encouraged all her students to write and we’d have sessions where we’d read aloud stories we’d written.
In college, I had two professors, Wilson Snipes and Mae McMillian, who were equally influential. I’ve dedicated books to all three.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Toni: It can be anything…a word, a scene from a movie, a line in a book.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?
Toni: I’ve always been a fan of Bugs Bunny. The character has toned down quite a bit from the original in which he was truly “buggy.” Nowadays he’s more laid-back and smart.
His line, “I must’ve taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque,” has gotten him into all sorts of adventures but he always manages to come out on top. I’m terrible at driving to new places and I’ve used that line a lot myself.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Toni: I’ve thought this over many times and can’t come up with anyone. I think it’s because I’m inherently shy and if I did meet someone who was well-known, I’d probably clam up and they’d think I was stupid or I’d stutter all over the place and they’d still think I was stupid!
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Toni: I’m retired, so I have plenty of “free days” as it is.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Toni: I’m currently working on a fantasy called The Childless King. It’s a kind of fairy tale and I’m writing it in casual form, with a “Once upon a Time” narration.
Blurb for The King’s Swordswoman (Book 2 of the Lovers of Leonesse):
The King is dead; How Long will the New King Live?
Sickly Crispin of Leonesse isn’t expected to long survive his coronation…and then swordswoman Janel Redhu becomes his bodyguard.
Smothered by the Queen Mother and his physician, Crispin is an odd combination of feeble body, rebellious spirit, and frightened child. In spite of that, king and guard become close friends. When Janel overhears what she thinks is a conspiracy by Crispin’s brothers to seize the Throne, she does the only thing she can.
She carries her sovereign to safety in the neutral country of Sudelain.
When the two runaways come across an enemy scouting party, Janel believes Crispin is killed, and lets herself be captured as punishment for failing to protect him.
What follows is a tale of suffering and love as a boy transforms into manhood and a young woman helps him meet his planned destiny.
EXCERPT for The King’s Swordswoman (Book 2 of the Lovers of Leonesse):
“So you’ve finally arrived,” Carel greeted his brother brusquely. He flicked a glance at me. “And is this the Lady Comaunder’s choice?” He sounded as if he couldn’t believe it.“Linus, who is this person?” Lady Mathilde didn’t give her next-to-youngest a chance to answer his brother.
“This is the soldier Comaunder Mariah sent to guard Crispin,” Carel answered for Linus.
“He seems young.” Standing, she bustled over to me, peering into my face. Abruptly, she recoiled. “Carel, this is a girl!”
“Astute of you to notice, Mother.” Carel didn’t attempt to keep his answer respectful. “Comaunder Mariah’s daughter, as a matter of fact,” he went on.
Lady Mathilde stared at her eldest, plainly upset, more than a little angry. “She can’t guard His Majesty,” she stated, in a don’t argue-with-me tone.
“Why not?” Linus spoke up, doing just that.
“She’s a female—” Lady Mathilde began, giving him a glare saying much about a son daring to question his mother’s opinions.
“So?” Carel interrupted. Not letting his mother finish a sentence earned him a scowl.
“Crispin’s guard has to be with him every minute of the day and night. This girl can’t possibly sleep in the same room with His Majesty. It wouldn’t be proper.”
“Janel’s a devotee of the goddess, Madame.” Carel’s reply was clipped as if attempting to control his anger. A faint rose fragrance hovered in the air. “DeOsse requires chastity of her followers. You needn’t worry about her climbing into bed with him.”
Linus stifled a chuckle.
“Nevertheless, nothing! I asked the Comaunder for her best soldier and Janel’s her choice. She stays.”
There was a sigh and a creaking of the leather straps supporting the mattress. A sleepy murmur, sudden movement from the bed, a body straightening and rolling over.
“M-Mother?” The voice was so shaky and hollow it sounded like an old man rather than a seventeen-year-old boy.
“Yes, my angel.” Mathilde was distracted from further argument as she rushed bck to the bedside.
“W-we have a v-visitor?” It was asked breathlessly.
Crispin sounded as if he’d run a race and couldn’t get his wind. Oh, goddess, and he stutters, too. I felt my heart dip with pity.
He leaned forward slightly. “Who are you, soldier?”
“The guard sent from Sword Squad,” Carel began.
I started to supply my name.
“—A female,” Mathilde didn’t let either of us finish. “I’ve told him she isn’t acceptable.”
Oh no. She’s going to talk him out of it. For some reason, the Queen Mother didn’t want her son to have a guard. I imagined she had enough influence with him to have me sent away. Well, that’d be no reflection on me or my abilities, but it would be an insult. To myself as well as to the Lady Comaunder, my mother, for her choice.
“Why not?” It was the whining query of a child being told he couldn’t do something.
“See? Even His Majesty sees there’s no problem,” Carel pointed out, not trying to hide how this pleased him.
Mathilde ignored him, turning back to the bed. “Because your guard must be here at all times. Think about that. You don’t want a female here while you’re being bathed, do you? Seeing you naked? Or watching you relieve yourself into a chamber?”
Crispin cringed. There was no other way to describe the sudden movement the figure behind the draperies made.
“She wouldn’t look…” His voice went up so quickly it became a squeak. There was a loud gulp as he attempted to return it to a more kingly timbre. The shadowy head turned in his elder brother’s direction. “Carel, s-surely she wouldn’t…”
“Of course not. Whenever you’re being bathed, Janel will turn her back. And she’ll never be in your company when you perform your other functions. Will you, Prive?” He directed this last question at me so suddenly I nearly jumped.
“C-certainly not, sire.” I grimaced at that brief tremble in my voice. I hoped no one thought I was mocking my king’s stammer. “I swear His Majesty’ll have privacy.”
“Come closer, Prive.” A hand wavered through the draperies. It was waxen-pale, large but bony, almost as white as the lawn sleeve covering it. “What are your orders concerning us?”
I stepped forward and seized Crispin’s hand. It was as chill as a piece of alabaster, not like a living thing at all. Dropping to one knee, I pressed the cold fingers to my forehead. “I’m to protect you, Your Majesty, and keep your enemies at bay.”
The hand withdrew, pulling me to my feet as it disappeared back inside the sanctuary of the bed. “Then it’s all right. She can s-stay, Mother.”
Buy Links for The King’s Swordswoman (Book 2 of the Lovers of Leonesse):Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://classactbooks.com/cat-romance/cat-fantasy/the-king-s-swordswoman-57-detail
Learn more about Toni at:Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tvsweeney
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8