13 June 2010

Saturday Special - Interview with T. K. Toppin

Greetings everyone! Today, we're going to have a special treat for the Saturday feature. My first interview (that I myself have given)! So, sit back and enjoy the question and answer session. And if you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment and T. K. Toppin should be by in a while to answer.

Me: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes you tick?

T.K. Toppin: I was born and raised in Barbados and this is where is still live with my husband, two geriatric dogs, and a humanoid cat. I’ve been (still am) a graphic artist for over twenty years now. I’ve always done creative things, whether it’s drawing, writing, making things…I’m just a general doodler/tinkerer. What makes me tick? I’m not sure. I like being on the sidelines, watching and observing and then reacting – or not. Coming from a Japanese background, living in a Caribbean setting, I’ve been observed and watched all my life. I sort of stood out. So, I just like to return the favour. People who know me will say that I am not in the least bit quiet or reserved, which, on first impression, they think. But I am. Really, I am. So stepping out onto the writing platform was a big deal for me. If you’ve ever read my blogs, I’ve written about my obvious aversion to public nudity – and writing is like exposing your inner self for all the world to see. Eek!

Me: Were there any authors (or anyone else for that matter) who inspired you along the way?

TKT: Are there any authors out there you just have to read when they have a new book out?
I’d say yes to that. I like to read this “In Death” series, done by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts). Every time she puts out a new one in the series, I grab it and read it. It’s different to her other books she writes under her real name. I don’t really like those. I’ve got two sitting on my ‘to read’ shelf right now. Dean Koontz is another, especially his “Odd” series. I like his quirky way of writing. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series is one of my favourites, that was my induction into the futuristic world of science fiction. He knew how to create worlds! Other’s I enjoy are Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus Trilogy), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series), of course JK Rowling, Diana Gabaldon. I like J.R.R. Tolkein as well, but it’s a hard read. Well written and detailed, but hard stuff! Its like reading history books sometimes. I recently read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson, and its sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire. I await the third, The Girl Who Kicked A Hornets Nest, to be translated and published in English – unfortunately that will be it since he’s passed away. But I loved the detailed way he wrote, keeping you thoroughly engrossed in what was happening.

Me: It’s been said that promoting one’s book is more difficult than actually writing it. Do you find this to be the case? How do you handle it?

TKT: I’d reply with a proper invective to agree – but I’ll keep this reader-friendly. But, most emphatically, yes!! Promoting the book has been the hardest, and possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, I do enjoy it since it’s a new area to explore. I’ve had to re-learn all my years in advertising and then learn about the literary world and how that rotates. Since my book is an e-book, I’ve also had to learn about the electronic and virtual world. I’ve never felt so thinly spread and exposed in my life. I mean, hello? I can be Googled now!! How cool is that!

Me: So tell us about The Lancaster Rule. What’s it about? Did anything inspire it?

TKT: Basically, it’s about a young woman who enters into a stasis pod, one that her scientist father constructed as a prototype. She ends up sleeping for 300 years and awakes into a greatly changed future. She now has to learn how to survive in this future but, of course, encounters all sorts of problems. She soon discovers that her past, and her future are so intricately linked (which is why it’s a trilogy). She finds love (gotta have romance, right?), she finds happiness, and she finds her true self.

The only thing that inspired this story was because I love to read books, or watch movies that are ‘epic’ in nature. You know, the ones that move you into that whole new universe. Where you go: wow! Where you fall in love with the characters, the places, the happenings. I wanted to create that feeling you get – full of adventure and intrigue, excitement and lots of wow-ness! I hope I got it. But judging by how some people have already reacted to it, I’d say it’s a close: yes!

Me: I notice The Lancaster Rule is listed as both Science Fiction and Fantasy. Is it more one than the other? Do you enjoy one more than the other (either reading or writing)?

TKT: Um…it’s a little of both. I mean time travel (fantasy) and technology (sci-fi) are borderline almost. They sort of go hand-in-hand. If I wanted to right pure fantasy, I would have done away with all the techie stuff, but then, I would’ve been a whole different story. As regards to reading it, yes. But I’d have to say, I prefer to read fantasy because you can make up anything and it’ll be real, in that world. For sci-fi books to grab my attention, something in it has to be based on something half-realistic or believable. Like I’d want to know the technicalities behind it. I like Star Trek, but I’d want to know how you can ‘energize’ people from one place to the next without losing bits of them. Well, I hear it’s been known to happen, but you know what I mean. I tried, with my book, to keep it as realistic as possible, with an open window for unreal. Like stasis technology is realistic, it can happen. If you sleep, rather than if you’re frozen. Cause to me, frozen means pretty much dead.

Me: If you could, describe your writing in a word or short phrase. Why should a reader want to desperately read your work?

TKT: Oh my god! Bleep-bleep, there goes another invective out my mouth…haha. I would have to say, that I HOPE they would desperately want to read my work. That I hope I’ve managed to create a new world that takes your imagination into an exciting and unforgettable ride. I hope you find the characters engaging and interesting – and funny, because that’s what I hoped they’d be…I basically wanted to write a character-driven story.

Me: When reading, sometimes secondary characters end up being as interesting or more so than the main characters. Were there any characters in The Lancaster Rule which begged to have more attention than they were originally planned for? Are there any you plan on giving their own story later?

TKT: Yes! There’s at least three characters, while I wrote about them, I decided along the way, that they were quite interesting and that I’d have to incorporate them more, or would have to incorporate them, into the sequel books. Some I’d planned on having back in the next books, but one character was just too interesting in LR to be ignored. His part was small, but it was like a wild card surprise when I decided that he would be the right momentum to carry book two. I developed his character more and added a nice little twist for the second book.

Me: If your book was made into a movie, who’d star in the cast?

TKT: Ha! Good question. I’ve answered this before, and since then, I’ve had time to think about it. For the heroine, Josie, I’m still not sure. It’s a toss up from strong female actresses like Kate Beckinsale (she just kicks ass!) to Keira Knightley (she’s got the softer, quirky side). For the hero, John, he’d have to have an equally strong presence, like my first choice, would be someone like Karl Urban. He’s got that silent, brooding look he mastered in Chronicles of Riddick. But physique-wise, I’d go for a Brandon Routh type from the new Superman…although, he’s a bit youngish for my hero. It’s hard since I’ve already formed an image in my head of all the characters, that to see a different face portray them is a little disorienting.

Me: What’s next for T. K. Toppin? Do you have any more novels in work? Publications coming up on the horizon?

TKT: I’ve completed the second in the series, The Master Key. It’s still not ready to be handed in for publishing. I’ve got some more polishing to do with it, get the kinks out. The third, The Eternal Knot, is so very close to being complete, but it needs to tie in smoothly with the second book in order for it to make some sense. After that, I’ve two more books, completely unrelated to the Lancaster series, that I’d like to write. Very contemporary in theme and nothing to do with sci-fi.

Me: How can a reader find you on the web?

TKT: You can find me spread out across the universe. Eek! First of all, you’ll find me listed at my publisher’s site. There’s Twitter if you feel like following me (I’m really not that interesting), or a Facebook page called The Lancaster Rule you might want to join that will keep you up-to-date on LR happenings, my blog page or my website (still under construction but in working order) with all the links if you wanted to buy the book. Or, ha-ha! Just Google me.

Me: Thanks for stopping by, T. K.! And now, for all those readers out there, here's a short blurb from The Lancaster Rule:

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!