This is the script for a radio interview with the author when Lawbreakers and Love Makers was first released in 2010.
Toni, when did you first consider yourself a writer?
February 8, 1996. That's the day the plot for my first novel began forming in my mind. I always thought that once I was no longer living a regimented life ideas for novels would come. They didn't, so soon after I retired I enrolled in a college-level creative writing class hoping to coax my muse out of hibernation. Work in my chosen field -- accounting -- had squelched my creativity, but in that class I learned to write essays, short stories, and poetry. I don't recommend the writing poetry part. For months, I thought in rhyme. Then, while reading a romance on a rainy afternoon, A dam burst and the entire plot for a novel flooded my mind. I hurried upstairs to my computer planning to make notes, but the ideas just kept coming, and I wrote two chapters before logging off. Except for aggravating periods of writer's block, I haven't stopped writing since.
How long have you been writing? What's the most rewarding aspect of it?
My teachers always insisted I had a way with words and as early as ten I knew I wanted to be a writer, but was undecided what I wanted to write. At fourteen, I started writing my autobiography, but my life was so boring I felt sorry for any possible readers and had the main character come down with a fatal disease to give my readers a break.
Writing romance is entirely different, especially romantic suspense. The mystery and the love story have to merge seamlessly, but give the couple time to fall in love. Plotting satisfying resolutions that lead to happy endings is my ultimate goal, and when I successfully solve the mystery and maneuver two headstrong people into each others arms I give myself a hi-five.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
I attended a retirement party in a lovely home I thought so unusual that before leaving that evening I asked the hostess if she'd mind if I put her residence in one of my books. She readily agreed and I started plotting Lawbreakers and Love Makers.
You asked your hostess to use her house for the scene of a murder? Were you ever invited back?
Yes to both, more or less. The entire time I devoured her delicious treats I was picturing bad guys climbing over the fence surrounding their isolated property and the plot for a romantic suspense began to take shape in my mind. Before you ask, no, I'd never had that happen before. All evening I plotted ways to prolong tension for a quirky heroine easily frightened by strange noises, and on the drive home gave her a conscientious deputy to calm her fears.
When I sat down to write a tension-filled romantic suspense, however, uninvited characters and unusual pets crept onto the pages and stole the scene. This novel practically wrote itself. Instead of the seat-of-your-pants thriller I'd plotted, Lawbreakers and Love Makers turned into a sometimes humorous, often scary rollercoaster ride that brings Zoe and her father closer together, and Zoe and Jon into each other's arms to stay.
I see Lawbreakers and Love Makers is your first published novel. Tell us a little more about it.
In Law Breakers and Love Makers Zoe Westmoreland returns to San Diego to housesit for her parents and sets off their silent alarm. The deputy sheriff who responds to the alarm is the same high school sweetheart who broke her heart in eleventh grade. She later learns her father, a Juvenile Court Judge, was responsible for forcing Jon out of her life.
Once Jon renews their relationship, the couple discovers some interesting ways to get reacquainted. Then really bad things start happening to Zoe and the deputy has his hands full trying to unravel the mystery at the Westmoreland residence while keeping Zoe safe.