Author Spotlight – Toni Cox
Born in Germany in 1976, Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. Although she has spent much of her working career in the timber wholesale business, she is also an accomplished horse rider, has a diploma in project management, photography, and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy.
From a young age, her dream had always been to put her imagination into words – give the stories life. When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013, she decided life is too short not to follow her dream. So, with the support of her husband and three children, she began writing book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy in January 2015.
Toni Cox writes: Epic Fantasy – The Milky Way Chronicles (including The Elemental Trilogy), Young Adult Fantasy – (including The Elemental Short Stories), Sci-Fi Fantasy – The Andromeda Saga, Fantasy – The Dragonlore Series, Dystopian Fantasy – these are set on Earth, the first one (Resilient) will be released in 2019).
Thanks for joining us today, Toni. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Mm… that’s quite a difficult one. I haven’t finished reading one in a while, but currently on my bedside table you will find:
- Bentwhistle the Dragon by Paul Cude
- Asylum I by Sian B. Claven
- Dragon Master by Chris Bunch
- Rise of the Seer by Brandon Barr
I read any one of them at any given time, as and when I have time to do so. Most of my time is spent researching or writing.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Magician & a staff. I’d probably have a little dragon sitting on my shoulders, too, wreaking havoc among those monsters my magic fails to kill.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
As I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, writing can be painful. Besides making some notes in my diary, I type out everything.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Preferably, to the gentle snores of my sleeping dragon, but as he is away hunting on most nights, I prefer to work in absolute silence.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
A lot of my books start with a dream. I then run with the idea and produce a “word vomit”, where I type out the entire book from start to finish in ultra-short form – 1-3 A4 pages, depending on the lengths of the novel.
This will then be my outline for the book I’ll write. I usually stick to it about 70-90%, with only minor changes as I go along.
I also have a day job, so my writing schedule is really tight. I’ll write and do marketing from 6pm – 10pm Monday to Friday, 1pm to 11pm on Saturdays, and 8am – 8pm on Sundays.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
I was ill last week and was forced to lie on the sofa for the weekend. I don’t usually watch TV, but with nothing better to do, I chose to watch BITTEN… I mean, who doesn’t love some half-naked werewolves, right?
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
I’d die! …
Ok, no, I’d just spend it with my husband. He gets to spend precious little time with me as it is, so an extra day would be AMAZING!
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
The colon: Because, why?
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
I’m currently working on three different ones, so I’ll give you one sentence each
- They say love conquers all, but in paranormal worlds, falling in love means playing with fire.
- Alone, frightened, and heartbroken, she now has to find a way to survive this apocalyptic world she has woken up to.
- The monsters were real, and not just in his dreams.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I am going to co-write a horror fantasy with my author bestie Sian B. Claven this year.
For a fantasy series, however, I think I would love to team up with The Wachowskis. They could turn my manuscript into a movie script… *sigh*
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I am really fortunate to have an amazing network of author friends who are always willing to part with some good advice. Some of the best advice I had was to never give up, just write, and don’t forget the marketing.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
*Providing I’d be safe during the entire experience – lol*
Ancient Greece – I’d like to meet Aristotle
Ancient Egypt – I really want to see how the pyramids were built
Medieval Europe – Because I want to know what is was really like
A time when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth so I can see what they looked like in the flesh
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I do something else. There is always something to do – from creating marketing graphics, mailing bloggers, scheduling Twitter posts, interacting with FB followers – there are endless things to do to distract yourself.
For writer’s block, I usually spend some time drawing my fantasy maps.
After a while, the inspiration returns, and I can carry on where I left off.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Everyone loved the Twilight Saga from Stephenie Meyer, but for some reason, very few people enjoyed The Host. I’ve already read it 3 times, and I’ll probably read it again. I absolutely love the story.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
Our galaxy, harbouring eleven Life Planets, each home to one race of the People, is the focal point of my Elemental Trilogy. A world where elves and dragons, vampires and werewolves, humans, dwarves, and Elementals are all real. Let the magic sweep you away in this epic quest to save one world from the invasion of another.
Brilliant. Thanks again for joining us, Toni, and good luck with your latest release!
Toni Cox is the author of the Elemental trilogy. Her latest short story in that universe, LUKE, is released today, and is just 99p!
Brought to Elveron by his Elven mother, Luke must learn how to make a living amongst the Elves as a Human. Thrust into the middle of a war between the Elves and the Vampyres, Luke’s education in medicine secures him a position as a Healer.
He is tested to his limits to save the people he loves, but once the war is over, he realises his adventure has only just begun.
At the mercy of a fierce, red dragon; a wily, old court Healer; and a willful princess, Luke embarks on a journey that will change his life forever.