Wednesday, June 2, 2010

# Guest Blog # Post

Guest Blogger: Toni V. Sweeney

I'm happy to present special guest author Toni V. Sweeney today, who is talking about...


They say a writer should write about what he knows but I don’t know if that has to be a hard and fast rule. If I wrote about what I know well, it would be something so dull and snore-inspiring it wouldn’t even get over the transom of a publishing house, much less get published! So, I let my imagination roam, though perhaps I sometimes might put a little of my own personal hang-ups into my character’s psyches. Not very much, mind you…just a touch. And yet…sometimes, personal fact creep in, mostly unconsciously…

Reflecting on that above statement, I recently gave Sinbad sh’en Singh and Riven kan Ingan a close personal scrutiny and found some very surprising facts I hadn’t realized when writing their stories. Okay, granted I’m not a 6’8” half-cat alien or an equally tall barbarian-turned-Noble but I’ve found some startling similarities between myself and these two gents. Namely, they both my desire for a happy home, security, and peace of mind, something I’ve never had and which now—in my sixty-seventh year—I grudgingly admit will never achieve. They are both loners, ostracized because of their heritage (I’ve also been snubbed, not for my background but for my writing subjects). Talented people with much to offer society—Riven as a political leader, Sinbad as a businessman. My contribution to the world is through my writing. They both live in “interesting times.” So do I, but I don’t actively do anything about it.

Each achieves in his own way the goal he has set for himself, though not particularly in the way he had thought he would, and that’s where the line between author’s life/character’s life wavers and diverges.

This is the point at which my characters and I part company. I’ve never ruled an empire, been hexed by the gods (at least I don’t think I have), lived with people who speak with wolves, smuggled contraband from one planet to another, or met a clan whose members were evolved from cats, but my heroes have and I’ve let my imagination run wild as to the other things they’ve done and seen, too.

Sin is a child of discord, born during the conflict between his parents’ planets. His father was a prisoner of war who fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and for that lapse in self-control, was tried for treason. In revenge, Sin becomes a smuggler to do his bit to chip away at the United Terran Federation’s reserves As a result, he becomes a very famous criminal in the UTF’s Wanted docket. Riven is a barbarian’s son. His father was a mercenary dying in the king’s service and for that, he is raised by His Majesty as one of his own children. He grows up with an inflated sense of worth continually punctured by the reminder of his foreign roots. To combat that, he determines to marry the king’s daughter and gain the power to punish his detractors. He is also a very vocal and avowed atheist in a polytheistic society, and for that, the gods thwart him at every turn. Both men fall in love with women who are the exact opposite of what they consider the “perfect mate” yet both turns out to be the perfect woman for each, able to stand their vagaries, tempers, and moods with vagaries, tempers, and moods of their own. Riven and Sin rise to their final positions of power and esteem mainly through the influence their spouses exert on them. I’m afraid I’ve never been so lucky in love, and any “position of power” I’ve held was through my own machinations and no one else’s.

When I wrote the two novels, I didn’t realize how alike Sin and Riven were going to be. Though set in the same universe but eons apart in time and planet, my characters faced similar problems in their private lives…namely, coming to terms with growing older, and facing the problems of having a family of teenagers (and that hasn’t changed, whether it’s a thousand years in the past or a thousand years in the future). A Singing in the Blood (the title refers to the Bloodsong, a hereditary condition suffered by Riven’s family) deals with Riven’s middle years, when he’s achieved all he ever wants, only to have his life suddenly blown apart when a new king comes to power. Sinbad’s Pride involves Sin’s attempts to help his war-torn planet regain its pre-war glory in a way that will tweak the Federation’s figurative nose while at the same time keeping the UTF from doing anything about it. In both stories, their sons are growing up, becoming men in every sense of the word, and making choices causing their fathers inevitable grief or pride. In both stories, the men themselves make decisions affecting not only their immediate families, but their descendants—and eventually—their entire worlds, forever, and through it all, their women love them and stand by them.

I’ve lived through several wars but I’ve never personally been involved in one. My ancestors did, however, and who am I to say their decisions to fight as they did didn’t influences what I do today? Certainly, those who moved South during the War of Colonial Rebellion to later fight in the War of Secession did that. Thinking back, I realize now I’ve even managed to imbue these two novels with that aspect of my life as well. Guess Riven and Sin’s stories hold more of myself than I imagined! How about your own?

Sinbad’s Pride is available through Double Dragon Publishing at

Also just released is Toni’s fantasy romance A Singing in the Blood, also available from Double Dragon Publishing at


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