Tuesday, April 22, 2014

T.K. Toppin and life on The Edge of the Blade

Today's literary sampler brings us the awesome and talented T.K. Toppin, here to share with us some of her prosed prowess! T.K.'s impressive book catalogue includes the popular Jax Marlin series, The Lancaster Rule, The Master Key, and The Eternal Knot, not to mention what's she's got in store for readers coming in 2014. She's an author who crafts her words with a veteran's touch, allowing us access into her fantastic worlds of adventure and fantasy.

T.K., welcome to my blog and I want to hear all about it:
Who are you and what brings you by today?
I’m T.K. Toppin and you extended a gracious invitation to stop by your blog and answer some questions. I write tall tales because I’m a compulsive liar. Don’t worry, I only fib in fiction. I was born in Barbados where I still live with my husband, my odd cat and two dogs.
What drives you to write the kinds of books that you do?
I’m not quite sure. At first, it was because I wanted to write a story that I’d enjoy reading. After reading so many amazing books by writers I admire, it got to a point where I said to myself: I want to do that too. Writing (creating) has always been there, inside me. I just didn’t know how to ‘let it out.’
But now that it’s out, I can’t stop. It’s not completely about writing exciting stories; it’s more about wanting to create them. I love the whole process of when a story comes together, takes shape, get’s fin-tuned, get’s little sprinkles on top. Creating things from scratch and watching it grow organically — that appeals to me.
How would you describe your writing style?
I started out being a staunch plotter. Now, I seem to be incorporating a bit of pantsing as well. It’s like sticking to a script, an itinerary, but at the last minute having unexpected changes, like a flat tyre, a sudden rainstorm that adds a nice spin to the story. I still need my notes; it’s like the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s nice that I’m growing a little more confident about my writing that I can fly by the seat of my pants sometimes.
What are your influences?  Favorite books?
Frank Herbert’s Dune series has always held my attention and always will. There’s something about the incredible world he created. It’s a richly detailed universe, populated by amazing characters, each with their own unique story that compels them to do what they did. Of course, there’s J.R.R. Tolkein — who doesn’t love his series?
C.S. Lewis (my induction into reading fantasy) with the Narnia series when I was seven-ish or so, and I also loved the real-life tales of Laura Ingalls-Wilder and her Little House of the Prairie books. I especially loved and still remember her knack of writing with vivid imagery. How her description of food and scents literally seemed to jump out at you. It’s like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, rich with detail and characters.
And then there’s Jonathan Stroud and his Bartimaeus trilogy (a particularly impish jinn) who’s books are considered young adult but simple addictive. Other young adults writers are Eoin Colfer and the Artemis Fowl series, J.K. Rowlings Potter books. Yeh…I could go on and on.
Hmm, looking back on what I just wrote, I seem to like a lot of serials.
What songs would be included in the soundtrack of your life?
That’s a hard question. I love music, mostly classic rock from bands like the Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival, Dr. Hook, Three Dog Night, Queen, ACDC, the Eagles, Grand Funk Railroad, etc. And there’s a whole heap of songs that have influenced me throughout my life. Each song set the time and date in my chronological life. And then there’s all those alternative, instrumental, popular music…okay…all music. I love them all.
If I were to break it down, it all started during my under-10 years and when I kicked the nursery rhyme songs habit — it was “Only Sixteen” by Dr. Hook. It played all the time, any time, everywhere. After that, “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Then there was “Jesse’s Girl” by Rick Springfield, John Mellancamp’s “Jack and Diane” (when he was still known as Cougar), Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing,” Bruce Springsteen with “Born in the USA”, U2’s “With or Without You” that blared out in 1987 and marked it as my all time fave band. 1988 saw me screeching with Guns and Roses “Sweet Child O Mine” and I discovered metal that morphed into alternative/grunge like Nirvana’s “Never Mind” album that blew my mind with the new sound and style. The 1990s saw me listening to The Flaming Lips, Green Day, Hootie and the Blowfish, Countin’ Crows, The Black Crowes, rock operas like Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Hell” album, and so many more. The new millennia saw New bands emerge and with new edgier sounds, and I have to mention Jet and their “Get Born” album because they are simply awesome. My current favourites, Train, Neon Trees, Pink, Matchbox 20… Well, I can go on and on and on.
Lately, when I write, I stick to instrumentals since they aren’t as distracting and sort of set the mood. My go-to selection for that is Two Steps From Hell. Their music, found in a number of blockbuster movie soundtracks, just has the right sort of tone to write to. Just like there’s questing-music for adventuring, there’s can be called writing-music.
Could you share the best advice you’ve received as an author?  What advice would you share?
Listen, learn, read, re-read, re-read some more, listen, listen, learn. And develop thick skin. Be polite. Be courteous. Be respectful.
Tell us about your latest release!
Released April 18th, #6 in the To Catch A Marlin short story series. Titled The Edge of the Blade, this short continues to follow the lives of my super-sexy vigilante, Jax Marlin and the dogged Inspector Pedroni who pursues her. This short was actually supposed to be #7, but it just didn’t feel quite right to be put so far in the line up. So I bumped it up and made it #6, so that the current #7 which I’m working on fits it better.
Talk about one specific theme in your latest book.
Good versus Evil. Right versus Wrong. All those vibrant gray areas in between.
Can you share a passage?  Of course…here goes:
A year and a half, Jax Marlin was missing. Seventeen months, twenty-three days, to be exact. Christmas 2400 was a mere month away. It was the new century, where many made resolutions or scratched their slate clean to start anew. But like rollover credits on his relay, he’d been chasing Jax for nearly three years and was still no closer to capturing her than he was when the case first landed on his lap. Seven more days and it would be an even eighteen months…

He wasn’t counting, but he wasn’t forgetting either. 

Was that too short? Oops. Sorry. :P
What else can you do besides write?
I’m an artist. My day job is as a graphic designer. But I’m also a fine artist. I draw, paint, do calligraphy. I suppose writing was the ‘next step’ or ‘next phase’ in my creative outlet.  
FAST FIVE QUIZ (in no particular order, meaning, or sense!)
1)      What side of a tree does moss grow on?  North.

2)      If you could, what holiday would you invent? International Procrastination Day. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

3)      Do you know another word for thesaurus? Yeah, idiot. Kidding…a synonym. Try saying that when you’re drunk. Sounds like cinnamon. I’m not drunk right now. J

4)      What would you do if you were allergic to Kleenex? Use my sleeve. Or someone else’s. Yerk, I know. But you asked. (Okay, but you and Pippa Jay both gave almost the same answer. Remind not to stand next to you when you sneeze!)

5)      Have you ever wondered what happened to the #1 pencil? It got promoted to the ballpoint pen? You know what, I’ve no idea.

And there you have it! The questions, the answers, and the intrigue! Thanks for playing, T.K. and
the only question from the Fast Five you got right was International Procrastination Day - I've
seen the greeting cards. I'll send you one...tomorrow.

Find out more about T.K. Toppin with the links below and don't forget to check out her latest
release -                  .

Her Blog:  http://www.tktoppin.blogspot.com/
Facebook:  Written by T.K. Toppin      The Lancaster Trilogy
Twitter:  TKToppin
Amazon:  Author Page



  1. Thanks again for asking me to play! Cheers!!

    1. Anytime! And it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the read!

  2. I'd thought about establishing International Procrastination Day, but I figured I'd get around to it later.

    Nice interview!

    1. I almost heard the drum roll after that one, Patrick. Ba dum dum!