By Toni V. Sweeney
Interview with Toni V. Sweeney:
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Toni V. Sweeney. Welcome Toni! I'm so excited to have you here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Toni: How about some lines from my “Professional” biography?
Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.
Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by netgalley.com.
She is an Amazon reviewer, is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted one of the Top 10 authors of those years by Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. In 2013, the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice voted The kan Ingan Archives (Part Two of the Arcanian Chronicles) a Special Mention, and the following year, named the individual novels The Man from Cymene, and Space Studs, from the same series two of the Top 8 SF/fantasy novels of 2014.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Toni: Please see the excerpt below.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for your latest release?
Toni: I wanted to write something different, where the main male character was helpless and the main female character was the strong one, not only strong-willed but also physically. Having my hero a naïve sickly prince and his bodyguard a female warrior fit the bill exactly. Reversing their roles also let me do a great deal of satire of the usual situations between the characters, also. It was also fun to make the prince the “shrinking violet” and his bodyguard the worldly one.
I enjoyed it so much, The King’s Swordswoman became the first in a trilogy about the people of the kingdom of Leonesse, entitled The Lovers of Leonesse.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Toni: I’m currently working on a Gothic horror novel asset in the South about a haunted house and the people affected by its secrets.
Crystal: Do you have any special routine that you follow when you are writing?
Toni: I simply put myself in front of the computer keyboard, and type, type, type. I keep a cup of coffee handy and always filled, too.
Crystal: Did you have to do a lot of research for this book or any other? If so do you have a fascinating fact that you have learned you would like to share with us?
Toni: For The King’s Swordswoman, since this was to be a medieval milieu, I started scouring reference books for information on medieval life—marriage customs, clothing, the training and duties of knights, gods, religion, food—you name it. I learned a typical set of armor weight 25+ pounds and that a broadsword could be over five feet long. Those usually had a handgrip for two hands, to wield it better. I also learned that the shorter swords, those we usually see in movies, where the opponents hold it on one hand was called a bastard sword, though no reasons was given for that name. The most interesting I learned was that young men often braided their hair into dozens of tight pigtails before going to bed so that in the morning when unbraided, they would be blessed with curling, waving locks. The procedure was called wearing the hair in press.
Crystal: Who are some of your favorite authors that you like to read?
Toni: I like JD Robb, and two new writers I’ve discovered through reviewing their books, Michael McBride and Bill Schweigart. They both write horror novels. Mike writes horror thrillers and Bill’s stories are based on Native American mythology.
Crystal: Is there a genre you haven't written that you would like to try?
Toni: I’ve never tried to write a real mystery. I don’t think I’m devious enough. The reader would probably figure it out within the first paragraph!
Crystal: Thanks for visiting. It has been a pleasure having you visit today. Can you think of anything else you would like to share with us today?
Toni: Thanks for having me. I’d like to share my answer to question #2, in this excerpt from The King’s Swordswoman.
“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 back 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
“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.”
The King is dead; How Long will the New King Live?
Invalid 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 have 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.
Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://classactbooks.com/cat-romance/cat-fantasy/the-king-s-swordswoman-57-detail
Learn more about Toni at:
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLQBB8