Today we are delighted to welcome author Dawn Bolton, who writes under the pen names of Alexie Bolton and Toni Bolton. We’ve quizzed Dawn about her writing journey and also probed her thoughts on issues as diverse as time travel and aliens!
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing two of Dawn’s historical romances, The Spymaster’s Redeemer and one of her latest releases, The Militia Man’s Lady, the review of which can be found by clicking on the book titles.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been writing?
I worked in adult education teaching law and economics in a university and then left and started a tutoring agency for adults and children. I also run a guest house as I live 100 yards away from a canal in the town of Knowle. I started writing books for children about two years ago but have written novels for adults for about a year.
2. What do you enjoy about indie publishing?
I enjoy the interaction with the readers, particularly during take-overs and signings.
3. Do you base your protagonists on anyone you know, either physically or in terms of their characters?
Yes, for the Spymaster’s Redeemer I based the male anti-hero Francis Dreda on the Duke of Avon in Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades. He shares the same cynicism and detachment as her hero but is attracted to my young heroine Felea who has faith in human nature.
4. What do you look for in creating the heroes and heroines in your books and how important do you think secondary characters are?
I like characters who may been damaged and have endured a hard life but are strong physically and mentally and are survivors. Hence, the men in the series Dreda’s Men are militia officers and in Men of valour, women of steel, the men are ex-military men. All my female characters are feisty ladies. Kirsten in Escape from fear is escaping an abusive relationship but faces up to her abuser and manages to ignore her past and make a new life. Secondary characters are important. The secondary characters in my first books become the main characters in the next books. The interaction between the characters makes for interesting engagements in the scenes and readers like to follow their lives in future books.
5. What inspired you to write the books you have published to date? The Spymaster’s Redeemer and Escape from Fear.
For The Spymaster’s Redeemer I read a poem which contrasted the good and bad in a commandant who came from his prison camp with ‘roasted flesh’ on his nostrils and then bought ‘sweeties for his young son’. I wanted to write a story about a damaged man who is the de facto ruler of a state and enforces the rule of law by the threat of imprisonment and the noose. This hard, detached cruel man is later shown to have the capacity to be caring when he finds a woman he loves.
Escape from Fear was inspired when I watched a programme about men who feed their women until they are obese and are totally dependent on them, ie they exercise controlled coercion over these women. I also remembered one of my secretaries at the university being stalked and murdered by someone. So, I wrote a book about a woman who searches for the people who set fire to her aunt’s house but is also escaping an abusive relationship aided by the hero who helps her overcome her issues from the past.
6. What was the most challenging aspect of each of the stories to write and why?
I found writing Kirsten’s character in Escape from Fear difficult. It was getting the balance between writing a gentle character who was trying to escape her past and overcome her fears and showing she was still a strong person despite her need to take counselling. It was difficult in the Spymaster’s redeemer making the reader empathise with but still be repelled by Francis Dreda as he is a complex character, warm with those he loves but cold and detached and cruel to others, a man one loves to hate.
7. Do you enjoy the research aspect of writing your books? Do you research the worlds your books are based in prior to starting writing or do you research as you go along? Are you a planner of a panster?
I enjoy the researching the history, particularly the law. Some of the history I studied at university, but I had to research American criminal law and procedure for Escape from fear as one of my characters is in jail for a while. I am usually a panster so the research is usually done while I am writing a book and can change the direction of a book when I find something unexpected. I found while researching Whisper softly or you’re dead the forensic science particularly difficult to research. Tv series like SCI New York oversimplify the work.
8. Why do you think readers enjoy reading about romance in their novels and do you think that romance novels are just for women?
I think readers like strong characters and conflict between the hero and heroine, but the conflict normally must be resolved in a happy ending. Two of my readers who gave ‘The Spymaster’s redeemer 5 stars were men and said they enjoy a good romance if it has adventure and intrigue in it.
9. Have you any writing/publishing projects in the pipeline that you are able to share?
I have recently written the first part of my paranormal series. The Avenged. Part one. The Seeds of Vengeance under the name of Toni Bolton, a series about a boy who meets a stranger and the meeting changes his life for ever. He searches later for his identity and meets the stranger again. This story is in Tricks or Treats, a Halloween anthology edited by Tiffany Carby and is available soon on Amazon. My Halloween book, Tales of Terror, Mystery and Murder should be out soon under the name of Toni Bolton. There is a sweet and innocent romance set at Halloween also coming out soon called, ‘The Toy,’ by Toni Bolton. A little girl makes friend with a marionette and is soon under her spell.
My final project that is coming out in November is called ‘Innocence and Deception’. I am excited about this because the heroine is quite feisty. She is convicted of murdering her husband and sacrifices parole by escaping so she can reach her daughter. An FBI agent saves her life when she falls from a ferry but she leads him a merry dance when she escapes from the hospital where she is supposedly recovering.
10. Have you a message for readers?
Try reading books from genres you normally don’t read. I have done so recently when I have reviewed books and found them refreshingly different from the normal books I read. Communicate with authors. They love feedback, good or bad. It improves their writing.
Some quick fire questions, just for fun!
Name 5 things you would not like to be without if stranded on a desert island:
I would like to take art equipment as I like to draw. An e-reader so I can read books. Tea, curries and pizzas.
Glass half full or half empty?
I am a glass full person usually. I like being with positive people who make things happen.
If time travel was possible, would you rather travel into the future or back to the past? Explain your answer.
I would like to travel to the future to see what is going to happen to this planet and how it will shape our future environment.
If you could only travel to the past, what would be your preferred time period and why?
The medieval period interests me, particularly when religion dominated the everyday lives of many people, particularly women.
Do you believe in the existence of aliens?
Yes, there are too many things that cannot be unexplained in the universe and on earth to ignore their existence.
Connect with the Author
Writing as Alexie Bolton
The Spymaster’s Redeemer
The Militia Man’s Lady
Twilight to Lamplights ~ Cowboy Antholigy, edited by Tiffany Carby and Kathia Iblis
I wrote a historical romance for the cowboy anthology ‘Twilight to Lamplights’ under the name Alexie Bolton. A young woman arrives in a small town during the Gold Rush hoping to start a new life but dark secrets from her past catch up with her.
Writing as Toni Bolton
Escape from Fear: Men of Valour Women of Steel
Whisper Softly or you’re Dead: Men of Valour, Women of Steel
A romantic suspense/ crime novel. Former Marine, now profiler Dr Darrell Defoe and Dr Kate Masters, a forensic scientist find love and danger whilst searching for a serial killer who leaves red herrings.
Saving Grace: Men of Valour, Women of Steel
A novella originally called A Blinding Flash is now called Saving Grace and is a novel in its own right. Georgie and baby Grace escaped her the baby’s parents’ house when it was bombed. Georgie drives to Mammoth Mountain to hide in the parents’ lodge where she can use the net to find the bombers. They are after her. Can Marshall O’Hara find her before her enemies do?
Tricks or Treats