~ TONI BLAKE~
Welcome to UTC, Toni! We are thrilled to have you! First we have to congratulate you on the awesome name of the bookstore in your series 😉 “Under the Covers” has a nice ring to it!
Thank you so much for having me! And yes, we do have the “Under the Covers” thing in common, don’t we? 😉
For readers who are new to your books, can you tell us a bit about your Destiny series?
Absolutely. The Destiny series is a group of small town romances, all of which are equally as sexy as they are quaint and idyllic, and I love combining those aspects because, to me, that’s real life. Even people in small towns have sex and like it! 😉
Destiny is a fictional town in Ohio, the heart of the Midwest, and I think readers really relate to the “Anytown, USA” feel of the place, and they enjoy following the evolving stories of the group of friends that I’ve chosen to write about. That said, all the books can be read individually, on their own, even if you haven’t read the rest of the series.
I love HALF MOON HILL! What would you say was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?
Thank you so much! It did indeed hold some challenges. Among them were making sure readers would love Anna (some weren’t too crazy about her after WILLOW SPRINGS, even though I personally thought they were kind of rough on her ;)), making Duke’s story feel viable and real, and … the fact that I was running late and wrote it in six weeks. I can admit that now that the book is getting good reviews 😉
The hero, Duke Dawson is an ex-biker gang member looking for some peace and quiet after an accident. What would you say is Duke’s best quality? What does he need to work on?
Wow, what a great question. As for what he needs to work on – he needs to quit thinking life as a loner is really so great and appreciate the people who really care for him, and he also needs to forgive himself for a lot of things. His best quality? Well, he’s hot – does that count? 😉 Of course, he actually has a lot of great qualities or he wouldn’t be the book’s hero, so I’ll go with … the fact that he’s ultimately willing to face his demons and improve his life. And he’s a lot more of a caring sort of guy than he would probably give himself credit for.
I love how all your heroines show so much character growth in their books. What was it about Anna that made you want to write her story?
Well, Anna has the toughest past of any heroine I’ve ever written, so I liked challenging myself in that way. She, too, had a lot of demons to slay. But from the moment she popped up in WILLOW SPRINGS, the previous book in the series, I liked her willingness to try to grow beyond her past and move forward, even if she needed to do that in her own way and in her own time.
In each Destiny book, there always seems to be a life message that is worthwhile and inspiring. How does your personal life influence your writing?
Wow, thank you for that! And I must admit a lot of “me” goes into my books. Anyone who reads my books will ultimately be reading about the way I look at life, the things I value, the things I think are worth working at and fighting for and having faith in. I don’t think my work would be any good without that. And I will also admit that when I’ve written a book, I usually end up – during the first reading of it after I’ve finished – realizing that certain aspects of my life at that time, or things I was thinking about, have gone into the book without me even realizing it. And this was very true of HALF MOON HILL.
CORAL COVE is the next Destiny book! What can you tell us about this book?
Well, technically, CORAL COVE is not a Destiny book. Gasp! That’s right – you heard it here first 😉 Though it’s strongly related to Destiny. With CORAL COVE, we’re moving to a new setting, but readers will find familiar characters there and they’ll end up in a place just as quaint as Destiny. Only at the beach. Think Destiny-by-the-Sea.
What would you say is the best thing about being a romance writer? And more specifically, a Contemporary Romance author?
Wow, the list is pretty endless. But I’ll narrow it down to the flexibility it gives me. For instance, I spend a tremendous amount of time working in a nearby park, and how great is that? I can rearrange my schedule as needed. I can work in my pajamas (but not at the park, of course – because a girl’s gotta have standards. ;))
And I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention how much I love connecting to people through my work. That’s what made me want to write when I was a little girl – the need to connect. I love knowing my work touches people and that they relate to my stories and get something out of them that they value.
Is your work space neat and tidy or a complete mess? Any visual would be nice!
Okay, so I just moved – literally two days ago – so a visual would blow your mind right now 😉 Generally, though, mostly tidy with a little messiness around the edges. My office – old and new – is a color called “melted butter” which is a nice, cheery yellow, and I have a serious-looking dark wood desk and bookshelves, etc., and it makes me happy to write there. But then again, the park is also my writing space, and it’s a little more … rustic. 😉 And sometimes there are bugs 😉
If you only had $20 left in your purse, what would you buy?
Being a practical girl, probably food and water. Totally boring answer, though, so my apologies.
Sea or sand? Sand!
Bikini or One-piece? Bikini!
Cosmo or Mojito? Rum punch 😉
Print or ebook? I lean both ways on that 😉
Jock or nerd? With my apologies to the nerds, definitely jock!
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us!
What a super fun interview! Thank you!
Trying to escape her troubled past, Anna Romo has come home to Destiny determined to carve out a place for herself. When she buys the old Victorian house on the hill with the intent of furnishing it into a Bed and Breakfast, she’s thrilled by the possibilities.
Ex-biker-gang member Duke Dawson is as much a fish out of water in Destiny as Anna, but he’s handling it fine until an accident scars not only his body but his mind. When Anna stumbles across him in an old cabin in the woods near her newly acquired house, at first she’s terrified. But they work out a deal – she’s willing to keep his solitary living arrangement a secret if he’s willing to help her with some of the heavy lifting at the house.
Working together on the rennovations, romance brews between Duke and Anna. That is, until war hero Jeremy Sheridan returns home in a blaze of glory and sets his sights on Anna. Suddenly torn between the outgoing and charming Jeremy and the intriguing Duke, Anna’s heart is torn between two paths and left with only one solution.
About the Author
Toni Blake’s lifelong love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Soon after, she penned her first novel which was nineteen notebook pages long. Since then, Toni has become a multi-published, RITA-nominated author of contemporary romance novels that are both sexy and heartwarming. Her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan and reviewed by USA Today and First for Women magazine. Toni lives in the Midwest and when not writing, she enjoys traveling, quilting, and scrapbooking.