AUTHOR INTERVIEW 78 – Toni K. Kief


Toni K. Kief

United States of America

Age 72


I’m from the Midwestern plains of the US. I came from a family of high spirits. As an adult I left my home town to move to Arizona, then Florida and finally my mother’s hometown, Marysville, Washington in the Pacific Northwest. I have been a warrior in the women’s movement and civil rights activity.
I started writing as a date at the age of sixty. I have named my own genre as OA –older adult also known as Boomer fiction. I will stay in the northwest, not for the virus, but for the amazing colors of green, mountains and the sea. 
I have just released my 6th book, Saints, Strangers and Rosehip Tea. As well as 4th book, Mildred Doubles Down,  in Mildred Unchained, and Unexpected Series.  
I am also one of the founding directors of The Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest.
Women’s stories are often lost to history. Susanna Jackson was just a girl from Scrooby, in north Nottinghamshire, England. Her home was located on the Great Road between London and Scotland. Susanna’s father, Richard Jackson, became involved in the Separatist Protestant movement. His faith and commitment molded Susanna’s path to Amsterdam and then, the Mayflower and finally Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Romelia: WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT WAY YOUR BOOK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE FIRST DRAFT?

Toni Kief: My book, saints, sinners and rosehip tea, began as a story of a 9x great grandmother who had been on the mayflower. The more I researched the deeper the story became of the forgotten participation of women in history.

Romelia: WHAT PERSPECTIVES OR BELIEFS HAVE YOU CHALLENGED WITH THIS WORK?

Toni Kief: It has me looking deeper into my paternal grandmother’s history. I had grown knowing my grandfather’s stories, but grandma Myrtle was overlooked. I have found a wealth and wonder about who else has lost amazing stories because history follows the last name.

Romelia: WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK?

Toni Kief: My father’s cousin on my grandmother’s side did a 40- year search into genealogy and I was amazed at the connections and stories we had not heard. Knowing more about Susanna Jackson-White-Winslow was a gift. If I would have known of the connections, do you think I would have behaved better?

Romelia: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK’S IDEAL READER?

Toni Kief: Anyone interested in history or in search of stories of the beginning of the united states and of strong women.

Romelia: HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR BOOK?

Toni Kief: 5 years, and a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts. I have connected with the mayflower history groups, and a historian, Sue Allan, of Scrooby manor where so much of the mayflower story began. In addition, I have 35 historical books, and joined the William White society. This answer could go on for an extended period of time, and only I would be fascinated by it.

Romelia: HOW IMPORTANT WAS PROFESSIONAL EDITING TO YOUR BOOK’S DEVELOPMENT?

Toni Kief: I wrote, rewrote and through it several times, using several editing programs. Then I hired a professional editor, at Dancing Octopus editing, that I know and trust. I also use cover and layout for formatting and cover. So in brief – really important.

Romelia: WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE, AND WHY?

Toni Kief: In the first winter after the mayflower’s arrival half of the passengers died. William White died, and she was left with a toddler and newborn. This was a situation of tears in the author bringing tears to the reader.

Romelia: WHAT CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK ARE MOST SIMILAR TO YOU OR TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW?

Toni Kief: It must be Susanna, she is strong, and smarter than her education and driven to take care of more than her family.

Romelia: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

Toni Kief: I researched before finally sitting down. I don’t outline, so the story built in my mind for quite a while before I started. It took about 2 years to write, but I was working on others at the same time until 2020.

Romelia: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

Toni Kief: I have a terrible time naming my books. I finally asked several members of the writers cooperative as they knew of my project. Finally, Roland Trenary asked for the first pages, the last page and the absolute middle page and two days later, he gave me the title.

Romelia: WOULD YOU AND YOUR MAIN CHARACTER GET ALONG?

Toni Kief: Hard to tell, she was deep in the creation of the  protestant religions with a religious fervor. I’m not religious at all. So, if she wanted to hangout and drink rosehip tea, I’d be there.

Romelia: IF YOU COULD MEET YOUR CHARACTERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?

Toni Kief: Let’s record these stories accurately, and educate everyone. We all need to be able to read more than scriptures.

Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? ARE YOU MORE OF A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?

Toni Kief: If I plotted I would have nothing completed. I turn the stories over to the characters and follow them. As for a pantser, are pants required, there is a pandemic and all?

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR WRITING SPACE TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED?

Toni Kief: I play Npr in the background. I’m able to block it out. If there is silence, I listen for posses, murderers, and amazon deliveries.

Romelia: IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A SPIN-OFF ABOUT A SIDE CHARACTER, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK?

Toni Kief: Susanna’s daughter from her second marriage, who comes after this book, Elizabeth Winslow. In her second marriage she joined the Curwin family who were instrumental in the Salem witch trials.

Romelia: IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANOTHER POPULAR AUTHOR, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Toni Kief: A live one, Alice Walker One from history, Sappho (with an interpreter).

Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK?

Toni Kief: Now that I’m retired I can work most anytime. I was having trouble with inspiration, now I walk the local cemetery and the neighborhood, then I come back and post my daily post on the Facebook page, procrastinate and then dive in. I only get the really good tea the next day if I do a good job.

Romelia: HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED AS RESEARCH FOR YOUR BOOK?

Toni Kief: Not as much as I’d like, but ten days in Plymouth, Boston and Salem, Massachusetts for this most recent book.

Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SNACK OR DRINK?

Toni Kief: Tea. And I’ve made a rule only in the cookie jar once a day. I don’t snack much, damn I think I’d be thinner.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK?

Toni Kief: Brag, hop around the kitchen, get into the cookie jar and let everyone know in the cooperative. I then spread the word with all of the groups I’ve joined on Facebook. Then I question why I don’t do Instagram and start on the next project.

Romelia: WHAT RISKS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOUR WRITING THAT HAVE PAID OFF?

Toni Kief: I didn’t start writing until a friend dared me when I was in my early sixties. So, writing at all has paid off. I’m shocked that I have 6 books. The biggest accomplishment was starting the writers’ cooperative of the pacific northwest with Susan Brown another author, and the community of writers that have come together.

Romelia: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Toni Kief: I was showing up before I began writing, but now it is not about my civil rights work in Florida. I think it is because of my extrovert nature the writing is first in the results.

Romelia: WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE AS A WRITER?

Toni Kief: Facebook. I will do a couple things and discover it is 4pm. I also need community.

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Toni Kief: I got 200 women to mail their shoes to Ronald Reagan when I was the president of Tampa national organization for women.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Toni Kief: I was mentally blocked for my next book, so I took David Sedaris’ masterclass. He told me to walk. I thought he was silly, so I took Dan Brown’s class and he told me to walk. I now have walked 671 miles and have picked up from 2 to 6 bags of trash each day in six months.

Something I hate, is the utter disregard for the beauty and fragility of this world. That and plastic bottles, Oh and assumptions.

Contact details:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/tonikief8author/ 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tonikayk1 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonikief/ 

Author page link:  https://www.amazon.com/Toni-Kief/e/B01CR8V3RG/ref

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