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 www.LaceyAlexander.net
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 www.ToniBlake.com. 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 www.yahoogroups.com/groups/ToniBlakeFans . : )
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! : )