Saturday 2 June 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hey there! My name is Tonya Macalino. I was born and raised in the middle of the sagebrush desert of southern Idaho—gorgeous country with sheer canyon walls and broad blue skies. When I moved out here to Oregon, I felt like I’d moved into a tropical rainforest. I loved the riot of colour, the majestic trees and mountains, the cool rains. (Funny how something that is a treat in one place can be an annoyance in another!) Despite the lush beauty of the environment, it took me months to overcome my claustrophobia. Everywhere you looked there was a tree or a building! Where was my open sky! Drove me crazy.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
It has been part of my self-definition for so long, I honestly can’t remember. I can say, however, now that I am a full-time author, it has been very liberating to answer that infernal question “So what do you do?” with “I’m an author.”

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Ah, I am also a full-time mom. And I teach novel writing classes at the local bookstore part-time and lead write-ins for authors at the local wine boutique.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The book I’m touring right now is titled FACES IN THE WATER. It is episode one in THE SHADES OF VENICE series. Twenty words, you say? Alright, I’ll give it a go:

“Holographic film artist, Alyse Kate Bryant, finds herself trapped in the flooded ruins of Venice, trapped with Venice’s dark and deadly legends.”

Dang! I’m two words over…

Who is your publisher? or do you self-publish?
I chose to independently publish. Wait! Before you instantly close your browser window, hear me out. I have a lovely collection of glowing rejection letters. I’m a cross genre writer and no one seemed to know where to sell me. I studied the publishing market for a few years and ultimately decided that now was the time to get into the self-publishing market, if I was going to do it. The big houses were taking fewer and fewer books, bookstores were collapsing left and right, and the tools and technology for  independent publishing were getting more and more accessible.

Nonetheless, it was a big decision, going against decades of my own prejudices. As a former Communications Manager, I did my best to keep my publishing process to a professional standard. I used a professional editor for the interior and a professional commercial graphic designer for the cover. As for vetting the content, I understand the reluctance of readers to commit to an indie author’s work. Therefore I have joined the Northwest Independent Writers Association ( and am in the process of applying for the right to one of their shiny embossed gold stickers that says the book doesn’t suck. Technically. Subjectively, well, that’s up to you, gentle reader.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
FACES IN THE WATER was considerably harder to write than SPECTRE OF INTENTION. Venice, as a setting, is a bear! Having to know orientation and history of every brick in a nearly 2,000-year-old city is excruciating and definitely slows down the speed of my writing. (And I’ve committed to a seven book series set there? That might say something very disturbing about my character!)

What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I am currently working on STEALING LUCIFER’S DREAMS which is episode two of seven in THE SHADES OF VENICE series. Like my previous two books, it will also be a paranormal thriller. The book after that will be a quick detour back to stand alones. I don’t have a final title yet, but it will be set in a Firefly-style mining town with supernatural intrigue. What can I say? That brief visit to Virginia City really caught my imagination!

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
Paranormal thrillers? Technically everything-including-the-kitchen-sink thrillers? I have a hyperactive brain. I’m a total folklore junkie and an up-and-coming technology junkie and a culture junkie and a psychology junkie and a travel junkie and a…basically I love to learn. Writing cross-genre lets me dig into whatever tickles my brain at the moment—and it is usually a lot. And thrillers let me write at a pace and emotional intensity that suits my temperament. It works.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Nope. Everyone is entitled to their opinion as long as it’s respectful. There will never exist a book that appeals to every reader. As long as I know I’ve put my best effort forward, I shouldn’t have any reason to get worked up about someone who dislikes my work. We are all professionals here. However, I do not think anyone should have to put up with a reviewer (or an author) who is disrespectful.  And, yes, there is a difference between opinionated and rude.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
For THE SHADES OF VENICE, the titles come from the themes or topics of Venetian folklore. For SPECTRE OF INTENTION, I didn’t have a freaking clue what to title the book!!! I ran a poll on Facebook and folks chose the title for me. And I love it!

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Ha! I don’t have time for writer’s block! Literally. I have two hours to write in the morning while the kids are in school. I’d better know where I’m going before my butt hits the chair—and those fingers better be moving the whole time.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
Ha! Ask any parent of small children: I don’t have a hobby; I have kids! But once upon a time I had a hobby as a cosmetics and bath goop maker. I imagine I’ll get back to it one of these days.

When I need to unwind, I send out a text for a neighborhood BBQ. I have the most amazing neighbors on the planet! Hanging out with them is always a treat!

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Of course, albeit loosely and usually just from an emotional perspective. Frankly, everyone does and anyone who says they do otherwise is lying through their cute little false teeth. We are our own “character” – a.k.a. filter for reality. Everything we experience, everything we, conversely, put out into the world is filtered through our emotional “character.” There is no other way of interacting with the world outside our consciousness.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Are you kidding? I immerse myself in folklore for a living! I think the biggest take away from these novels is that truth is a malleable thing, changing in every moment. That, and that the loyalty of friendship can take a variety of forms, all valuable if you are able to accept them for what they are, but loneliness, now loneliness is truly dangerous.

Do you think books transfer to movies well?
I think the two are very different art forms and if the director and screenwriter respect that, it can work. Here’s the trick: books are told from within the character(s). Everything is filtered trough their emotions, their senses, through the many-layered world from which their personality arises. Movies are told externally. While music and pacing and the audience’s own empathy can help internalize what takes place on the screen, the depth of shared intellectual and emotional processing is much more limited by the format.

And of course, there is scope. A reader experiences a book over the course of days. A movie watcher experiences a film over the course of a few hours. There’s just not as much space available to flesh out the supporting subplots which can end up affecting the strength of the primary plotline.

I think an effective transfer from book to movie respects the themes, characters, and lessons of the original work, but recognizes that it is its own separate entity.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
For general reading, yes. I think print books will become more of an art form, a collector’s item. For better or worse, I think more and more reference material will find itself migrated to the web. There is a lot of debate about what moving textbook material to this format will do to the human brain’s ability to analyze and synthesize information in depth. But I don’t think this debate will stop it from happening.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
Ha! I might not be the right person to ask! My son is expected to read twenty minutes at home everyday including weekends and he is constantly bringing home “books” he wrote and illustrated. While the twenty minutes is a dictate from the teacher, I suspect the “books” are an influence from home that the school kindly indulges. When both your parents are constantly working on their next book (my husband is children’s picture book writer Raymond Macalino—, it tends to affect the leanings of your own early interests!

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
The works of Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, and Ursula K. LeGuin will always have a special place in my heart. As a kid, I glimpsed the mysteries of life through their words, experimented with right and wrong, and discovered the person I wanted to be.

What do you think about book trailers?
I think an awful trailer can kill a book. Which can make them awfully scary. Had I the requisite $500, I would have hired a professional. But since I didn’t and I needed one for an event, I kept it as simple as I could. Enjoy!

Where can readers follow you?

Your blog details?
The Story of Place Blog (

Your web site?

Your Facebook page?

Your Goodreads author page?

Your Twitter details?

And any other information you wish to supply?
If you want to chat, the best place to catch me is on Facebook! I also do signings all around the Pacific Northwest. Watch the events page on my website for upcoming appearances.

Thanks for having me over and have a great day!
Thanks for taking the time to take part in this Interview!


  1. Thanks so much for letting me drop by Jean! Here's wishing you fun and productive week!

  2. Great interview. Innovative questions and complete answers. I'd love to follow this author's blog, as I am really into folklore and history myself, but the website doesn't seem to be working. :(

  3. Sorry you weren't able to access the site, Liesel. Not sure what happened, but it is working fine now!