Author Interview: Toni Kief

Hi everyone! Today I’m chatting with Toni Kief, author of the Mildred Unchained mystery/humor series of books.
Welcome, Toni!

Thank you, Mr Squirrel!

What inspired you to write?

I didn’t start writing until I was sixty years old. I was in metaphysical group that was closing and James Johnson said, “I want to write more.” I’m not sure where the answer came from, but I said “If you write I’ll write.” Now ten years later we have a total of eight published books between us, and that doesn’t include the cookbooks we never published.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?

Of all my 200 short stories and 5 books. My favorite project is Mildred In Disguise With Diamonds. The first in the Mildred Unchained trilogy. Mildred Petrie is 71, widowed and broke. She walks to the casino, and they offer a job working in security undercover.  She isn’t your usual crime fighter and I’d love to hang out with her.

Mildred sounds great! What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

This is tough, I was just talking to my grandson about books I remember years after reading. Some of the books I remember the most may not really be a favorite. Probably The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I have been reading an odd mix of Indie books the past four years. I’d have to say the best this year is The Immortality Cure, by Tori Centanni.

What are you working on writing now?

I’m working on a historical fiction about my 8x great grandmother, Susanna Jackson/White/Winslow who was on the Mayflower in 1620.

Oh, that sounds fascinating!

It is!

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

I have a reward system to encourage my writing. If I write well and move forward, I get the English Breakfast tea that my friend brought to me from London. If I don’t accomplish much, I get the 2 for $5 sale stuff from the Safeway store.

Who designs your book covers?

I use Heather McIntyre with Cover & Layout for all of my covers. I give her my ideas and then she does something so much better.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Back in the 1960s I was deep into folk and protest music. When everyone was buying the Beatles, I was listening to Sam Cooke and Mel Carter. I’ve always skirted the crowd.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Forests are utterly amazing. I used to plant a tree a month when I had property. Ideally, I would like a place in the forest on a lake near a small town where I know the stories of the people sitting on the other side of the bar.

That sounds lovely. A forest, on a lake… *sigh*
Ah. Where was I? Right. Here we go!
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?

I went to Italy with an acquaintance. I brought her a book and she read the same People Magazine the entire flight. As it turned out I let her shop one afternoon, and every other hour I dragged her to museums, archeological sites and the Vatican.

What is your pet hate?

Frogs, and I don’t know why. I must have seen one with a knife when I was a baby.

Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

No, it is a silly enough hate it would make a character unbelievable.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I am forever dedicated to The Daily Show, as a one time political activist and a progressive nothing beats the news and humor.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

I don’t tend to rewatch movies or reread books. I am embarrassed to say that I’ve seen Grease seven times, but that was accidental: it was on in front of my face.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have wanted to be an archeologist since I was eleven. Might explain why I was a rock hound for years.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

No question about it, Spring. That is the season that is all hope and new flowers.

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

I have a crush on Ernest Hemingway, I’ve met Maya Angleou and she was an amazing talent, spirit and warrior.  For number three, Tony Hillerman. I bought a book on tape (that long ago) for a 3,500 mile trip hoping my son would like it. I ended up buying all of his books twice.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?  

Oscar Wilde, “I’m to old to know everything.”

Name three people you admire, and give reasons.

#1 Malala Yousafzai so young, brave and brilliant. Being shot in the face didn’t stop her.  
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for bringing civil rights issues to the forefront and using non-violence, and eloquence to fight for rights.
Third, would be Mary Wollstonecraft a trail blazer for equal rights and education for women in 1792.  Oh and Shirley Chisholm, and… and I’ll stick with the first three.

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

The writing is the joy, editing the equalizer and marketing the battle. Remember commas are ninjas that creep around into the night trying to make you look bad.

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Getting a good education and cleaning the oven.

That’s one of the great things about being a squirrel: no oven to clean!
Where can we follow you on social media?

I have a website and an Amazon author page where you can find all my books. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for being here with me today, Toni.

I’ve enjoyed our chat! Thank you!


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