Ronica Black interviews Toni Logan:
Toni, first let me congratulate you on your new book, Share the Moon. How exciting! I just finished reading it and I’m thrilled I get to pick your brain about it. This was a new adventure for me as I’ve never really read a paranormal romance before. The idea of someone falling in love with a ghost had never entered my mind. But I found myself very intrigued, and honestly, as soon as I read that first chapter, you had me. And you had me the whole rest of the way. I couldn’t put it down. So I’ve got to ask you, why paranormal romance? What drove you to write this particular story? Have you had any experiences with the paranormal?
It’s funny, because I really don’t read a lot of paranormal books because I easily get creeped out when things take a scary turn. That being said, I do believe in the paranormal. I’ve definitely had those goose bump moments that make you pause and go, huh, that was weird.
Also, when I was writing this book, my mom was in her last stage of life, and I would watch her have complete conversations with people in the room that weren’t there. Or I should said, that I couldn’t see. When I would ask her about it, she would smile and tell me that she was talking to loved ones that had passed. I thought that was kind of cool and very magical. So when I wrote the ghost in Share the Moon, I wanted her to be a kindhearted soul who was friendly and approachable, not creepy or in any way scary. Someone who would make people smile. I wanted the reader to look at that character as a beautiful and sweet soul, who just happens to be a ghost.
I’m a bit fascinated by this story and I love that it pushes yet another boundary when it comes to love and romance. On top of that it’s a bit historical as well. I very much enjoyed reading Ruth’s journey, and you do a fantastic job of making it seem so real. Did you have to do a lot of research for that era? Was it fun? (I love doing historical research.) Are you a fan of historical romance as well?
Yes, to all of the above. I actually really enjoyed doing the historical research for this book. Since the character of the ghost passed away in 1904, I googled everything I could on that era. I studied photographs of the clothes, the architecture, the modes of transportation, the housing—anything that gave me an understanding of what it was like to live back then. I also researched what the latest and greatest inventions were and what was in vogue. Anything and everything that helped me shape the look and personality of the character of the ghost. I needed to understand where she came from, so I could not only write her backstory, but create believable reactions to all of the things she was experiencing while trying to navigate in today’s world.
As for being a fan of historical romances, yes, I definitely enjoy reading them. I think it’s fascinating to travel to places and times long-past and experience it all through the lens of a good writer.
The book takes place on a vineyard, and the characters venture into winemaking. Again, you make it seem very real. Do you know a lot about wine in general? Have you ever been to a vineyard? Your setting sounds so beautiful—it makes me want to book a vacation at one. Do a little wine tasting. Learn a little about wine. Yep. Sign me up. See what you’ve done? Maybe you should suggest a good wine for your readers to enjoy while they read your book. Yes, that would be wonderful. I’m all for it.
A good friend of mine has a beautiful house in Petaluma, CA, overlooking a vineyard. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on her porch listening to her tell stories about what it was like to grow up in that area of Northern California. And of course, you can’t spend time in wine country without touring the wineries and tasting all the wine. Add that to the online research and YouTube videos I watched about growing and harvesting grapes, and I definitely have a pretty good understanding and appreciation for the entire process.
As for my personal taste in wine, I absolutely love a good tawny port. It was my wine of choice while writing this book, so I already know it’ll pair nicely while reading it.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters in your book, but I have to say Kate holds a special place in my heart. Her backstory was very well done and resonates so profoundly with who she is in the present. Who would you say is your favorite? Or who touches you the most?
It’s interesting that you resonated with Kate, because she has a lot of me in her. Kate has a horse named Ginger, she lost her lover, and she has a bit of a laid-back hippie vibe to her. All of those things I pulled from my own life.
I also really enjoyed writing the character of Ruth, the ghost. Because she died before she was given the chance to experience and express love, she has a lot of self-doubt and insecurity around her emotions toward Jamie. So getting in her head when she was falling in love was like a trip down memory lane when it came to my own awkward experience with my first girlfriend.
Along with the paranormal and the historical, there is also a good deal of humor shining through in your book. I’ll never forget Kali’s first scene or what happens at the wedding. I loved the wit and the banter. Did you enjoy writing the humor? Did you feel it was important to have some in this book?
I love writing and reading humor. I think it adds so much to the personality of the characters and lets the readers relate to them that much more. I think if the readers can laugh along with the characters, then they’re more engaged in the story. Plus, I can’t imagine going through life’s ups and downs without a good dose of humor, and that goes for my characters as well. Life is too heavy, especially lately, so you really do have to offset it with humor as much as possible.
Let’s talk about Toni the person. Have you always wanted to write? If so, where do get your ideas?
Yes, I’ve always dabbled in writing in some form or another. When I started taking it seriously, I decided to write screenplays, which is such a different style and pacing. When I switched over to writing novels, I wrote several manuscripts for young and middle-grade kids. Then a friend of mine suggested I write romance, since it was pretty much all I was reading, so I jumped over to that train and haven’t looked back.
As for the ideas, that’s a good question. Sometimes I can hear a section of a song, read a sentence in a book, or just observe some random thing, and I get this tingle inside, and then it’s off to the races. The novel I’m currently working on came from a song I was singing to in my car. The tingle hit, and I thought…hmm, what if? By the time I got home later that evening, the story was already laid out in my head.
Do you have a particular setting in which to write? Like an office or study or out by the pool? Do you find that setting the mood helps? Like lighting candles, glass of wine etc.?
I converted my kitchen table into a desk because it has the best view of the backyard, and I really enjoy feeling surrounded by nature while writing. The downside to that is my cats are constantly jumping up and, more than a few times, have walked across the keyboard or stood unmoving in front of the screen demanding attention. But even with all the interruptions, it’s by far my favorite room in the house to write.
As for setting the mood, I’m more of a night person, so I like to turn on these little white lights I have strung around the fireplace, pop a big bowl of popcorn, pour a glass of wine, and let the creative juices take hold.
Animals also play a role in your book. Are you an animal lover?
I am a total animal lover…as in all animals. I think they are amazing, beautiful, and interesting, and they deserve so much more kindness and respect than we tend to give them. So many of them have lost their habitats, been exploited, and are seriously endangered. It really saddens me when I think about their suffering. Trust me, when it comes to this topic, I could go on and on.
Are you a bookworm? If so, what do you like to read?
Yes, I am definitely a bit of a bookworm. I absolutely love all things romance, and I enjoy most all genres (except horror). I think we’ve already established my lightweight status when it comes to all things creepy and scary. But give me a book that has an enjoyable plot and good character development, and you’ll find me snuggled on the couch with my glass of tawny port for the rest of the night.
Do you consider yourself a sensitive soul? Someone who would, perhaps, be able to pick up on things others wouldn’t notice? Maybe even the paranormal? I think many writers are highly sensitive, and I think many readers are as well, and I think they’ll be drawn to your book. The way Jamie and Ruth fall in love is sort of like a beacon for sensitive souls. Those who have the ability to see beyond the world that we take for granted. It’s a beautiful love story.
I do consider myself a sensitive soul. I think in order to write depth into your characters, you have to call upon the times in your life when you’ve either experienced or witnessed through others the gamut of emotions. I once read a statement from an author who said if he wasn’t crying while writing a sad scene, then the reader wouldn’t be crying while reading it. I think that holds true for so much of the book.
I also try to look at the magic in all the things this world has to offer. In order to do that, you have to take your blinders off and allow yourself to not only feel things deeply, but be open to them when they present themselves. I try to look at things without the mental restraints of what should beand instead look at them as what can be. Any preconceived notion is a missed opportunity to broaden my horizons.
For Share the Moon, I needed the character of Jamie to look beyond the fact that Ruth was a ghost and instead see her for what she truly was, a beautiful and adorable soul. To do that Jamie needed to put aside any bias about what she thought about ghosts and, instead, embrace the one standing right in front of her…soul to soul.
What do you do in your downtime? Do you have any hobbies?
I love photography, always have. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I hope some of my photos are captivating enough to tell their own stories. If nothing else, they bring me back to the time and place I took the photo and it’s always nice reliving the memory.
Do you write every day or just when the lightning strikes, so to speak?
I try to write every day, but between a full-time job and some of life’s other obligations, I don’t always have that luxury. But I am always working through scenes or dialogue in my head, so I figure that counts as writing time too. Right?
Do you feel compelled to write? Or can you take it or leave it?
I definitely feel compelled to write. The voices in my head wouldn’t have it any other way. They are a constant chatter when I lock in on an idea that I think would make a good book. It’s like they take up residence in my brain and won’t leave me alone until I write their story. They’re the noisy upstairs neighbor that just won’t shut up.
Where is your favorite place to get away?
Maui. I love the ocean, I love the island, and I love the vibe. I have a friend that lives there, and he shows me the local scene and takes me on amazing hikes to waterfalls that are off the beaten path. There’s so much incredible beauty there. Why I ever chose to live in the desert is beyond me.
Do you share your story ideas with friends and loved ones? What do they think of Toni the writer?
I do share my ideas with my friends. Most of them already know my mind can travel down some weird alleys, so when I’m throwing out story ideas, they patiently sit and listen while my brain hops all over the place. I’m like that kid who shows you their crayon drawing and then goes into a lengthy explanation of what all the unrecognizable scribbles represent.
I’m very fortunate that all of my friends are super supportive. Writing can be very isolating, and I can’t imagine continuing to travel down this road without their love and support.
There are a few love scenes in your book, and they were very nicely done. Were you comfortable writing the erotica? Or were you a bit on the shy side?
Definitely on the shy side. In fact, a lot of times when I get to the love scene in the manuscript, I put in a placeholder. I have to be in the right frame of mind to write those scenes, because there is always a part of me making love to the character, so it has to feel real. (Okay, now you’ve got me blushing.)
Are you someone who is constantly getting ideas for stories?
I do get a lot of ideas for stories. Some of them can be pretty crazy, but I do have a steady flow. I used to work as a writer/producer in promotions at several TV stations, and it was a prerequisite of my job to constantly come up with creative ideas while juggling tight deadlines. I was constantly pitching, so I think my brain just got used to me pushing the creative juices when called upon.
Are you working on anything new? What’s next for you? Is there another paranormal romance in the works? (Fingers crossed.)
For right now, I don’t have any plans to write another paranormal romance.
However, I do have two more novels coming out later this year, and both are contemporary romances. One is set in Maui and is about a temporary fake marriage arrangement between two friends that turns into a happily ever after. The other is set in a small midwestern town, and it’s about a cute little blackmailing scheme that takes an unexpected turn towards romance. Both are lighthearted, with lots of humor.
Tell us one thing no one else knows about Toni Logan.
Lately I’ve become addicted to watching The Great British Bake Off, which is weird because I don’t have a sweet tooth or eat much dessert. Not quite sure what that’s saying about me right now, but I’ll go with it.
Toni, thank you so much for allowing us a glimpse into your world and into your psyche. I thoroughly enjoyed Share the Moon, and I think our readers will also. I look forward to many, many more from you as I truly enjoyed your unique voice. You’ve now got me hooked on paranormal romance!