Apologies for the delay in getting Toni’s Q&A here. Life got in the way for both of us. If you’re interested, you can find my review of THE SAINTS OF THE LOST AND FOUND in the review section. Now, without further ado…
For those, like myself before reading your recent blog post, who had no clue what happened to Bobbie Faye can you please share why she and her motley crew disappeared?
I never say “never” with Bobbie Faye, and it’s always possible that she’ll be back, or her cronies will have a spin-off series. The series was originally only intended as a trilogy; I added to those with the short stories (free to newsletter subscribers) because I had a few loose ends I felt needed to be tied up, and I didn’t want to leave questions unanswered. At least, not too many (evil grin).
The beauty and joy of writing Bobbie Faye was that she was such a rule breaker and stubborn, determined Chaos Personified. I always had seen her as the female equivalent of Wile E. Coyote just as he’d gone over the cliff and looking back at the camera with that oh, **** expression as she got herself into one disaster after another by trying to help people. I love her, still, but there’s a point where someone has blown up so many things, there’s nowhere else to take the stories to top the last one without being so sublimely ridiculous, the readers wouldn’t buy in. For now, I feel like that’s where she is, and I suspect I’ll have other stories to tell about her friends that will allow us a little peek at what she and Trevor and their kids are up to, from time to time.
Avery Broussard, she speaks louder or is more suited to where you are now than Bobbie Faye?
When it was time to write the next story, Avery did indeed start speaking much louder than Bobbie Faye. Bobbie Faye and her crew felt finished and were silent. No amount of brainstorming or coaxing seemed to pull those voices back to the surface, and Avery’s voice had taken over in a very short time.
I’m not sure if I can say that Avery’s voice is louder and more suited… since her story is done, for me, she’s gone silent, and other voices have bubbled up to take her place.
It’s sad, letting go of characters. It’s a little like when your children are grown and have their own busy lives. You’re still a part of them, and they, you… and you “hear” from them every once-in-a-while, but your work there is done. They’re on their own now, and you have to let them do what you raised them to do.
Latham’s voice is still sharp and clear and I have a story for him I’d like to tell; his story isn’t done, yet, and there is so much more to him than what could go in SAINTS.. I’m working on it in bits and pieces, along with a lighter story (romantic caper) and an epic story (urban fantasy). I’ve got a historical I want to do, as well that is heartbreaking and beautiful and ends with hope, and I think it’s the story I was born to write.
Avery, she’s quite a compelling character. Did she come to you full grown or more of a slow reveal?
She was much more of a slow reveal. I originally thought the story was going to be sort of a funny caper, about a woman who sees lost things, and how that created all of these comedic, chaotic twists in her life, and then as I wrote it, the comedic aspect didn’t work. I started over, really listening to the character and how she got there, (which I had known before, but hadn’t fully accepted the implications of what her ability would mean to her, how it would have affected how she grew up).
Do you see a bright, so to speak, future for Avery?
I do. I think she’s happy, now, where she is at the end of the story. Like life, there are some things that are bittersweet; some things she’ll always grieve, but by the end of the story, she has the answers she has always needed, and has moved into a place of possibility, instead of a place of despair.
Do you feel you’ve found your niche with Southern Gothic?
I love it—I love the noir feel, the mystery and suspense, the thriller undercurrent… but I’m not likely to ever just stick with one genre. I know my writing life would be a lot more productive and easier for readers to find me if I just stuck with one type of story so that they’d know what to expect, where to find me in the book store, but honestly, my brain just isn’t wired that way. I like too many types of stories to stick with one type forever, and I’m one of those classic Geminis… I get bored, easily. I have to keep changing things up, making it difficult for myself, challenge-wise, so that I can stay interested and keep raising my personal bar. I hope readers can follow me from one genre to the next, but I understand when they can’t, when they love one thing and the new thing isn’t quite their cup of tea. It’s all good, however it works out.
Is there another genre you’d like to give a go?
I’m absolutely digging urban fantasy right now, and I want to do a historical thriller as well. I’m always going to be trying something new (I hope).
Have you read anything lately that you’d recommend to others?
Two that were unputdownable: THE ROOK by Daniel O’Malley and Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Both are in the fantasy genre. They’re quite different from one another, but absolutely terrific reads.
Any current reads?
I just picked up O’Malley’s sequel, titled Stiletto; I have high hopes for it.