About the Author
When Toney Larson was a child, she dreamed of being a writer. When she grew up, she acted more responsibly and went to art school. After graduating from Southern Virginia University with a BA in Art, Toney reworked the Rapunzel fairytale in her first book, Growing Amaranth. Since then, she has continued to add tales to her YA fantasy series Legends of Draven. Originally from both Wales and Virginia, Toney uses her travels to increase her ability to relate to others. Through her writing, Toney hopes to help even one individual find comfort and companionship. A current resident of Utah, Toney lives with her husband and four children. When she’s not writing she spends her time in graphic design, homeschooling, and homesteading.
1. What is your favorite dessert?
My absolute, all-time favorite dessert is homemade Mississippi Mud Pie. My husband makes it once a year on my birthday. It’s a chocolate crust with rich chocolate filling (almost like a brownie, but it’s not brownie), and real whipped cream with chocolate shavings on top. In general, though, I enjoy custards, creme brûlée, and chocolates.
2. What is your beverage of choice?
Flavored water, herbal tea, or hot chocolate.
3. What is your favorite movie and/or TV show?
I love Once Upon A Time and Downton Abbey. I really enjoy clean historical dramas like The Young Victoria and A&Es Pride and Prejudice.
4. Where is your favorite place to go on holiday?
I’m from Wales so that is where I long to be, but I love visiting my husband’s family in Washington state. The climate reminds me of the UK, actually.
1. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always wanted to be an author. I would say my greatest champion was my Uncle Dwayne. He used to make up stories about elves and hobbits when he would babysit and he’s always encouraged me to write. I’ve always loved a good story and was a typical book nerd. I would quiz myself on Greek mythology and devour books like Enid Blyton’s “Tales of Long Ago.” Rewriting fairytales so they’re more human and incorporating my family history, childhood passions, and personal experiences feels like it’s in my blood.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
Yes. Author was my occupation of choice until I was a teenager when I felt like it wasn’t a realistic goal. So I went to art school instead, where I ended up writing my first novel anyway! So now I’m a graphic designer and author.
3. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do these authors inspire your own writing?
Some of my favorites are the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Gail Carson Levine, Robin McKinley, Patricia Wrede, and Charles Dickens. I love the classics and retold stories and certainly all of them have inspired my writing. I don’t consider my novels romances because my deeper messages have nothing to do with the love interests, but my readers say the romance is their favorite part. And of course my books are retellings along the same lines as “Ella Enchanted” and “Beauty.”
4. When you are not writing, what other "hats" do you wear?
I’m a wife and stay-at-home-homeschooling mother of four. I also teach art and music lessons and do graphic design work like print layouts and covers for independent artists.
Book Related Questions
1. What inspired the idea for Unmasking Cassandra: a Cinderella Retelling?
When I wrote my first novel “Growing Amaranth,” Cassandra was a character that was mentioned, but never appears and I wanted to let my readers know more about her. My YA books are clean, no language or adult content, but still cover heavier issues in an inspiring way. “Unmasking Cassandra” deals with prejudices based off of looks.
2. What do you want readers to take away from reading Unmasking Cassandra?
I hope that if they feel like they are being bullied or unfairly treated that they realize they’re not alone and that things can and will get better, even if it’s not in the way they think it should.
3. What is your current WIP? What can you tell us about this project?
It’s book three in the “Legends of Draven Series” and is called “Engaging Helen.” It’s based off a little known fairytale called “The Riddle.” There are characters my readers fall in love with in my first novel “Growing Amaranth,” but they don’t get the ending many people want them to have. So it’s sharing what happens to them after “Growing Amaranth” and is a fun and lighthearted book, especially compared to the first two. The story involves elements like riddle solving and witty banter.
I’m actually running a contest right now that I would love for more people to join in. In anticipation of “Engaging Helen,” I am putting together a book of original riddles, written by anyone who wishes to participate. Every riddle submitted will be entered into the book and it will be published around the same time as “Engaging Helen.” Send us the riddle without the answer and we will have three days to guess. If we can’t guess, you will be entered into the contest to win either a copy of the riddle book itself or a copy of my first novel “Growing Amaranth.” There are no limits on the number you can submit. The contest ends March 25, so if you want to participate, please submit it on my author facebook page or email it to my publishing email firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have a daily riddle to answer on my author page, just for fun.
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