Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interview with Toni Blake

I've been lucky enough to interview someone who is not only one of my FAVORITE authors but also one of the sweetest people I know, Toni Blake (she also writes as Lacey Alexander). She's a fantastic writer and a really down to earth gal who writes with deep emotions and really HOT love scenes. Enjoy!

Kelley: You write steamy contemporary romance as Toni Blake and erotic romance under the name Lacey Alexander. Does it sometimes get confusing keeping it all straight?

Toni: I’m never confused when I write – I’m always firmly grounded in the story I’m telling, no matter which “one of me” is telling it ; ) But it can be confusing when I’m at booksignings or other professional events, and I have, on rare occasions, been known to write the wrong name in a book I’m signing. And it’s a lot of *work* to write as two people – I maintain two websites, send out two newsletters, host two ongoing contests, and I write for three different publishers. But mostly that’s a matter of learning to be a good juggler. ; )

Kelley: What made you venture into the more erotic side of romance as Lacey?

Toni: About five years ago, my career was lagging and I was “between publishers” – which is a nice way of saying I couldn’t sell a book. ; ) My agent was shopping around the book that eventually became my first Toni Blake single title novel, THE RED DIARY, but in the meantime, a few of my author friends suggested it would be a good time to try something totally new, for a change of pace. So I decided to try my hand at erotica with an eye toward approaching Ellora’s Cave, who was just starting to build a name for themselves. I thought it would be a one-book effort, something I did for fun, and I didn’t do any research or even read any erotica – I basically had this vision in my head of what I thought would make good erotica for women, and I wrote it. I was stunned when, three days after I submitted the book, it sold – and Lacey Alexander was born. I was even more stunned when EC asked me for more books and the Lacey part of my work became a much more significant part of my career than I’d ever imagined.

Kelley: You know I'm a huge fan of both your Toni and Lacey books because they're so emotionally charged. I love it when an author can write, knock your socks off hot but also completely entangle me emotionally with the characters. Do you get emotionally wrapped up in your characters journey and if so is it hard for you to let them go when you finish a book?

Toni: Absolutely. And thanks for the nice compliment, by the way. : ) But yes, I write from a place of “deep point of view,” meaning I try to get really deeply inside my characters’ heads – I think of it as being “in their skin.” So I get very attached. Probably more so to the Toni Blake characters, because those books are longer and more emotionally complex, and the characters usually have more “issues” to work out – and just as you said, when I finish a Toni book, it can be hard to say goodbye. I think that’s why I enjoy polishing my own work so much – I get to revisit my characters. : ) And I’m very excited about the fact that I’m starting a series for Avon, because that means I’ll be able to revisit past characters in future books – and so will readers, which I hope they will enjoy. That said, I also really enjoy developing the Lacey characters, too, who are a lot of fun to shape and watch grow.

Kelley: Your books are all super sexy. How do you keep your love scenes so fresh and passionate book after book?

Toni: That’s a great question. And I think it has to do with what I was talking about up above – being in the characters’ skin. Writing those love scenes from deep within that hero or heroine’s point of view. Their personalities, their pasts, their present, where they are in the relationship and in their life – all of that and more comes into each sex scene and makes it so that the scene “belongs” to those two characters and could not take place between any *other* two characters or in any other book. I try to fill my sex scenes with emotion – not always just romance, but any emotion or thought that the character might be experiencing at the time – and those emotions drive exactly what happens as the scene progresses.

Kelley: Is there any other genre you'd like to write in the future?

Toni: I would LOVE to write historical romance AND historical erotica. I’ve penned a few historical romances in my day, but they were back before I first sold and started building my career, so they’ve never seen the light of day, unfortunately. But I have a huge passion for history, to the degree that I’ve been known to read history textbooks for fun, and I love combining my passions – like history and writing. So I hope I will someday get the opportunity to explore this.

Kelley: If you could chose one of your books to be turned into a movie which one would it be and who would you like to play the main characters?

Toni: Wow, hard question. SWEPT AWAY would make a fun movie, in my personal opinion, with all the beach scenes mixed with all the danger and shooting. ; ) Plus there’s a lot of “banter” between Brock and Kat that I think would translate well in a movie. And I think LETTERS TO A SECRET LOVER would be a fun flick, too. I don’t know if it’s because I wrote that book more recently, but I can very clearly “see” it, like a movie in my mind, complete with all the humor and banter between Rob and Lindsey. As for who would play the roles, I never come up with good answers for that – no current actors or actresses usually seem to fit my “vision” of my characters. But whoever played Rob Colter would definitely have to be tall, dark, and brawny. ; )

Kelley: Alright I have to know, your stranded an island that has everything you need to survive but you can only bring three books with you. Which ones would you bring?

Toni: Oooh, that’s very tough.

Book one – Chronicle of the World – this is HUGE book that features newspaper style articles on every significant happening in known history. It’s huge, and entertaining. I set out to read it about fifteen years ago, but only got about a tenth of the way through. But it would provide some long-lasting reading AND lots of history.

Book two – The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven – this is a prose book that reads like poetry and was written in the early 90s by an old friend of mine, poet Sherman Alexie. The beauty of the prose makes it very easy to re-read.

Book three – Sunrise Song by Kathleen Eagle – because I HAVE to take a romance, right? And this is one of very few books that I recall ever keeping me up all night reading, back around 1996 or so.

Kelley: What can we expect to see from both Toni and Lacey in the future?

Toni: Lacey has a few things coming out fairly soon. Pocket will release ON SANTA’S NAUGHTY LIST, an anthology in association with Ellora’s Cave, featuring my novella, UNWRAPPED, in November. Then in February, Penguin will release my next full-length novel, THE BIKINI DIARIES, which is, of course, super-erotic and a lot of beachy fun. : ) And spring, I believe, will also bring the release of the long-awaited, ADRIANNA’S UNDIES, Book 3 of the City Heat series, from Ellora’s Cave. Readers can learn more at

Toni, as I mentioned briefly above, is embarking on a series for Avon, which I’m super excited about! The series is set in the quaint small town of Destiny, Ohio and the first book, ONE RECKLESS SUMMER, will be released next June. In it, the ultimate good girl and police chief’s daughter, Jenny Tolliver, will meet up in the woods one night with what is possibly the baddest bad boy I’ve ever written, Mick Brody – and two worlds will literally collide! ; ) This book is super, super sexy and filled with lots of gut-wrenching emotion, and I hope readers will love it. And they can learn more about my Toni Blake books at Also, a few of my most devoted readers have recently started a reader discussion group (as you know, Kelley, since you are an active and much-beloved member : ) ) where we have lots of fun, chatting, and prizes, and we always love adding new members. So any Toni readers who think this sounds fun should definitely join us at . : )

Kelley: Thank you so much for satisfying our curiosity today, Toni!

Thank YOU, Kelley, so much, for a really fun interview! I truly enjoyed it! : )


Joni said...

Great interview. It also caught me up on all the future books coming, so I jotted them down, even though I'd probably become apprised in the loop of those when they get closer to their relase dates. I can't wait for Adrianna's Undies. It seems like a lifetime ago I read the last City Heat book from you! And still have to wait even longer from now, but at least I have a time-slot when it will arrive! :-) I can only hope I'll still be bringing in an income at that point. That's the risk of running a daycare business, but it's a business I've thoroughly enjoyed having than any other job I've worked! Being your own boss makes it that much more enjoyable! :-) Thanks again Kelley for providing us more insight into the lives of Toni and Lacey's writing career!

Stacy~ said...

Hi Toni/Lacey! GREAT interview Kel :)

I am a huge fan, and loved Lacey's books before I knew she was Toni, so that was a wonderful discovery. And you're right, Toni is as sweet and down-to-earth in person, and so easy to talk to. And if Toni/Lacey writes it, I will buy it, no question.

Can't wait to stop by later for more fun :)

Toni Blake said...

Hey Joni and Stacy, so nice to see you guys dropping by : )

Joni, I actually just got a release date for Adrianna's story - March 6 at EC. And I hope you still have an income then, too ; ) I know how much you love running a daycare! And I have a feeling things will work out good for you, one way or another. : ) And yeah, it's taken me forever to start working the rest of the City Heat books in between work for my other publishers. One more to go - but not sure when it will be yet ; )

Stacy, thank you for the very kind words, both about me AND my books - you're so sweet, and you totally rock : )

Lise said...

TONI, FAB job on the interview, you answered all of my Lacy Alexander questions, OH! I can't wait. And for your Series to start. . .

Kelley, fab job in interviewing Toni, WOHO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank You for doing this.

Renee DeMarcus said...

Hi Toni!

Great interview (and terrific questions, Kelly!). Interesting choices for books to be stranded on an island with. I will definitely have to check out the novel by Kathleen Eagle.

Do you write the Lacey books and the Toni books at the same time,say even in the same day?

Anne Rainey said...

What a lovely interview. Great Job Kelley and Toni!

I'm a bit unique. I first discovered Lacey Alexander, then Kelley turned me onto Toni Blake. No matter what though, it's all storytelling at its best!

Thanks for spending time with TWW!

Kelley Nyrae said...

I'm glad everyone's enjoying the inteview! I LOVE Toni and Lacey books. They are AUTO buys for me :)

Thanks again for the interview, Toni.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hi Toni! Glad you came to chat with us today. I also write for Ellora's Cave and juggle TWO NAMES. GRRRR. You have to be pretty organized to pull it off and I have to admit, it's a struggle for me. So KUDOS to anyone who does it well.

You really should write an erotic historical. I just did one and it was really fun. Don't you think changing things up really keep us fresh as writers?

Great job with the interview Kell and thanks for introducing everyone to Toni!

Toni Blake said...

Hi Renee - and thanks so much for stopping by : )

To answer your question, nope, I don't write both kinds of books at the same time. Whatever I'm writing, I'm fully immersed in it, so while I could probably hop back and forth if I had to, I think it would really complicate my process ; )

Lise, so glad this answered your Lacey questions - thanks for visiting to check out the interview, and glad you enjoyed it : )

Toni Blake said...

Regina and Anne, thanks much for the warm welcome, and a big thank you to Kelley, too, for the invitation : )

Anne, glad you hear Kelley introduced you to the Toni books : ) And I find I get quite a bit of crossover reading going in both directions ; )

Regina, always fun to meet a fellow EC writer, AND someone who juggles two careers. I will admit it's reached a point of maximum saturation - I barely know which end is up some days ; ) The writing I can handle - it's all the REST of it that's not leaving me much time to breathe these days ; )

Whether I write an erotic historical will have a lot to do with time ; ) Although I'm well-versed in a lot of periods of history, I know it would take longer than my usual Lacey books, just because it's different than what I've become accustomed to, and right now, "longer" is not a luxury I have given deadlines. But I imagine I will get around to it one of these days.

And yes, I totally agree about changing things up to stay fresh. I try to challenge myself in my work quite often, and my current challenge is writing a closely intertwined series for Avon. I've written some trilogies and related books for EC, but the Avon books will be a lot more closely connected. So far I'm really loving it, though, and am excited to see how readers respond.

Thanks again for the welcome : )

Regina Carlysle said...

I was wondering if you'll hit the Ellora's Cave Romanitcon next year. Sounds like a blast to me. Hope we can meet in person.

I have two pubbed hot, one erotic and they are soooo time consumming. Right now it just seems easier to stick with novellas that you can crank out quicker. Yeah..Maybe I'm getting lazy. LOL

WK said...

Great interview!!! Loved your comments Toni and the questions. Guess we know who to get to ask you the questions on the group,huh?

I can't wait for the new books!!!


Toni Blake said...

Regina, sorry to say I won't be going to the EC conference. It's actually fairly close to home for me, but I only do a couple of big events a year and don't like to commit to too much more. I *will* be at RWA National, though - that and the Lori Foster Reader and Writer Get-Together in Cincinnati are my 2 "must do" events every year, so if you'll be at either one of those, please be sure to say hi! : )

Toni Blake said...

Hey Wendy, thanks a bunch for checking out the interview, and glad you enjoyed it. Indeed, Kelley came up with some great questions - I really enjoyed answering them!

Judith Rochelle said...

Hi Toni. I sent you an email when I finished Tempt Me Tonight which I think has to be my newe all time favorite klove stoy. I keep it next to my bed so I can pick it up and read bist and piecfes of it on a regular basis. The incredible emotion really reaches out and grabs you. So I'm busy reading my way through the Toni Blake baxcklist and watchig for future books. Oh, and I have my Lacey Alexander collection, too!

Judith Rochelle a/w/a Desiree Holt

Kelley Nyrae said...

I LOVED Tempt Me Tonight too. Such a great book. Have you read In Your Wildest Dreams? That's one of my favorite Toni books. Jake is SUCH a tortured hero but he's so damn hot at the same time. Which books of hers have you read so far?

Toni Blake said...

I remember getting your nice message, Judith, and WOW, what a wonderful endorsement for TEMPT ME TONIGHT! Thank you - that truly makes my day : )

Judith Rochelle said...

Hey Kelly. I've read Hotbed Honey, In your wildest Dreams and Swept away. And while I'd loved to drag Jake Broussard under my sheets, I will always be in love with Joe Ramsey.

Kelley Nyrae said...

Yes, Joe is VERY hot too!

Tonya said...

Great interview Kelley. =)

Toni, Kelley recently introduced me to your writing. I read Letters to a Secret Lover....LOVED IT! It was so emotionally charged! I look forward to reading more of your stories!

Kelley Nyrae said...

Tonya, I can't wait until you have time to start reading again. I have more Toni books for you to read :)

Toni Blake said...

Hi Tonya - thanks so much for the lovely comment! I'm so thrilled with your reaction to LETTERS! And Kelley - bless you for spreading the love : ) : ) Tonya - and anyone else - please feel free to join our friendly discussion group that I mentioned in the interview; we'd love to have you : ) And it's nice to meet you here : )

Judith Rochelle said...

Hey Toni, sorry you won't be at the EC gathering but maybe by the time I finally get to meet you I'll have learned to spell!! LOL!

Abigail said...

What a great interview! After reading all the great reviews here, I went to Amazon and ordered 'Tempt me tonight'.

Can't wait to read it!

Lindsey said...

Great interview Kelley and Toni! There's always such fun stuff here at TWW. :) And I'm always thrilled to hear Toni talk more about her writing - she's such an inspiration!

Toni Blake said...

Ladies, just popping back in to check on anything I missed after signing off last night, and wow, Abigail - thank you for ordering TMT!! I hope you enjoy it! : ) And thank you to all of you lovely ladies who made the book sound so good that Abigail had to have it ; )

Waving hi to Lindsey - thanks for stopping by, AND thanks for thinking I'm an inspiration. You rock! : )

Thank you ladies again for hosting me here, and a special thanks to Kelley for a fun interview!!