Friday, June 4, 2010

TK Toppin Interview

Joining us today is author TK Toppin. Here is TK’s Bio:  I was born and raised in Barbados where I currently live with my husband. For the last twenty-odd years, I have been working as a freelance graphic artist. My world has only ever orbited around that field. Writing has always appealed me and it’s something that I would eventually like to do full-time in the future. Early in 2008, after whining about it, a friend said to just do it. So, I decided to just jump right in and make a start. The Lancaster Rule is my first real attempt at writing.

[Anne] When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, TK?

[TK] Not sure. I’ve always scribbled stuff down, writing in a journal, or outlining storyboards for cartoons that I’d later draw out. In school, I just did what I was told. As an adult, I wrote family newsletters and then doodled around with stories, half-hearted attempts at writing. I love to read and I think the main motivation into actually attempting to write was because some books I read, I wondered how on earth it got published in the first place. I kept thinking, I could write that! But I said to myself, if I ever started to write, I’d want to write one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. The ones that take you into a different world, where the characters are so alive and unforgettable. I hope I’ve achieved that – I know I’ve a long way to go before I can call myself a real writer.

[Anne] Please tell us about your new novel, The Lancaster Rule. It’s the first in the series, right?

[TK] It is. While writing it, I knew that one book was not enough to complete the story I wanted to tell. The Lancaster Rule is set in the future, even where it begins, it’s set about twenty-odd years in the future where certain scientific technologies may become possible. Basically, it’s about this young woman who helps her scientist father with an experiment. She enters a suspension chamber and ends up sleeping for 300 years. When she awakes, she has to deal with the terrible new future she finds herself in by learning to adapt, basically. She also finds real love and realizes that her life in the future was always meant to be.

[Anne] Fantastic cover!  And it really sounds interesting. What inspired you to write this story?

[TK] I like daydreaming…a lot! Most of it was idle musings and imagining what life in the future would be like – who doesn’t do that, right? The more I daydreamed, the more it became into a sort of story. And then, thinking, what if this happened, what would happen then? And, also, at the time, I was reading a book series where the heroine goes back in time and all the adventures she got into. I thought, well, we know history, but what about the future? What if a person were to go into the future, realistically speaking, and have adventures there? And if you wrote about the future, you weren’t restricted by accuracy. You could write any old thing and call it the future!

[Anne] How did you go about researching it?

[TK] I spent hours online just reading scientific stuff. Since I knew how my heroine was going to end up in the future, I wanted to make sure if it was reasonably possible to do so. At best, I like to keep things relatively realistic, with some room for a bit of far-fetched ideas. Google and Wikipedia became my new best friends. But, most of it was about stuff that related to me…things I knew, like some parts have a suspiciously close likeness to my own family. Other bits, I just made up as I went along.

[Anne] Can you give us a peak further into the series?

[TK] The second book is called The Master Key, but it doesn’t quite continue where the first one ended. It also sets the stage for the theme of the book. Like the Buddhist saying of where every action has it’s opposite reaction, the continuity of life cycles and balance, harmony, etc. The Master Key is about how a person’s life is connected or interweaved with time and movement…I could go on and on.

The heroine is living life quite happily in the future, ready to settle into it, so to speak. But circumstances intrude, making her realize that her future is, most definitely, determined to link her to her past. She is once again kidnapped, her life threatened, and her questions about her past and her family are all answered. And she gets to see outer space!

The third book, The Eternal Knot, continues almost directly from where the second one ends. More of her past and family are revealed and she comes face to face with a relative – pretty much like the endless knot or, as some call it, the eternal knot. Everything about the heroine is linked and tied in with her past, which has now, finally, come to face her. I know, very Buddhist. Unfortunately, this relative is not a very nice person, so they must battle it out to the end. Our heroine also learns to accept that her life is basically is one endless knot… It’s still a work in progress, and who knows, I have options to end it wide open for another book!

[Anne] What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a panster?

[TK] Well, not sure what a panster is, doesn’t sound too appealing… I like order, so while I see the big picture in general, getting there, I like to stick to things chronologically. Like start at chapter one and finish at chapter so-and-so. I make notes, constantly, and write down things I think will work in certain areas. But mostly, I stick to ordered writing, plodding along until I reach the ‘big picture.’ I do a lot of re-reading as well, correcting, adding and changing as I do so.

[Anne] I’m panster – meaning I’m not an organizer or plotter. Okay, if you could be anyone of your characters, which one would you chose to be and why?

[TK] Hmm…that’s a really tough choice. I like them all! Funny enough, I’d hate to be the heroine since every bad thing known to man seems to happen to her. I can’t decide. I’d be all of them for a day since they all do interesting and exciting things.

[Anne] Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go? (Okay so maybe this isn’t very likely to happen but since I’m asking the questions…)

[TK] Anywhere is good – so long as it’s got internet access! Not big into remote and exotic. So, I suppose anywhere that’s got relatively good parts of civilization and creature comforts.

[Anne] You’ve just been informed that The Lancaster Rule is a NY Times bestseller and Hollywood wants to turn it into a movie. What actors would you choose to play your main characters?

[TK] Oh, boy! Well, after recovering from my fainting spell…I’d have to think really hard. The characters images are quite vivid in my mind, so to get an actor similar to play them would be really difficult. At best, the heroine could be anyone from Kate Beckinsale to Keira Knightley. I’m just pulling straws here since their strong screen presence stands out. For the hero, anyone from, I dunno…Brandon Routh to Karl Urban. Although, the latter sounds more likely. That sort of quiet but strong presence…

[Anne] What type of books do you like to read when you’re not writing?

[TK] Good sci-fi (like the Dune series), a good mystery or suspense thrillers (like Dan Brown…just finished The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire – excellent!). Some quirky, modern day fiction (Shopaholic series, that sort). Some young adults like the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, and, of course, Harry Potter. Not much horror or supernatural/paranormal – I like sleeping with both eyes shut, thanks. I’d read a Stephen King providing there’s no clown or dolls involved. Some Dean Koontz I’d read.

[Anne] Name three things you can’t live without (excluding spouses and family because that’s a given).

[TK] As of late, the three things I must leave home with are my laptop, my iPod and my Blackberry. Living in the modern world sucks big time. Without them, I feel out of sorts.

[Anne] What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there?

[TK] Just write what you like, what you know (and if you don’t, research it), keep it real with a window for the unreal, and keep re-reading what you wrote. Give it to someone else to read, a friend, your partner, anyone whose opinion you value and listen to their remarks. Take the lumps with the jumps.

[Anne] Where can we find you on the web?

[TK] but its still very much under construction. Nothing to write home about, but I’m there.

[Anne] Where can we purchase your book?

[TK] My publisher is Champagne Books:

[Anne] Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[TK] Just to say thanks so much for this opportunity to talk about my book – hope I didn’t bore you senseless. And that I hope people who read it will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

Book Blurb:

The world loathes Josie Bettencourt's kind – pod-survivors from the past. When death is certain, an ex-military and friend to the pod-hunters, saves her life. Unfortunately, she is soon arrested and taken straight to the Citadel, the heart of the Lancaster regime where they have ruled tyrannically for over fifty years. Now, young John is in power, hoping to make a change, to erase the wars, famines and unimaginable terror. When Josie meets the frighteningly powerful John Lancaster, she has to ask, is he really the so-called tyrants' spawn? She soon discovers who the true tyrants are by unraveling a deadly plot to take over the world. And she realizes that her life in this new future are indelibly linked to the one she left behind.

The Lancaster Rule, the first of a three-part saga, takes you on an exciting rollercoaster ride, 300 years into the future!

[Anne] Thanks so much for joining us today, TK. Best of luck to you with all your writing endeavors.


linda_rettstatt said...

Great interview, TK. I guess we should both thank the friends who got tired of our whining and said, "Just to it."


TKToppin said...

Thanks for stopping by Linda. I know, what would be do without them, right? Glad they got tired of us whinging :)

Tami said...

It's great to get to know you better! I'm glad I'm not the only one who has been scribbling things down since and early age.

I told my daughter that I had written my first poem on a manual typewriter, and she looked at me funny. How bad is it that kids don't know this stuff? LOL

TKToppin said...

Hi Tami, I know what you mean. I'm still in the graphic arts world (it pays the bills unfortunately) and I still remember the days before computers and typsetting print from something called Letraset transfer letters! I tell a young artist now and they look at me funny. I've learned to keep my mouth shut now. Thanks for stopping by.

Anne Patrick said...

Hi ladies! Thanks so much for dropping by in support of TK and her wonderful new book.

Rhobin said...

Interesting interview TK & Anne. Love the cover and sounds like a great story.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

This was a very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing your insights. -Laura H.

TKToppin said...

Thanks to all who've stopped by to have a read.