Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi Fiona, nice to meet you. I’m Toni Cox and I’m 41 years young.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am originally from Germany. I was born along the Rhine, but grew up near Hannover. I moved to South Africa in 1991.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
As I was still a teenager when I moved to South Africa, I finished my schooling here, before starting a course in horsemanship. I wanted to be a horse riding teacher.
Half-way through the course I fell pregnant and, as my employer was paying for the course, I had to find alternative work and did not finish my studies.
I started at a timber company to get by and have been in the timber wholesale industry ever since.
However, I was not satisfied with merely working in sales and that passion for studying needed to be fed. So, over the years, I have acquired a diploma in Project Management, Photography and Nutrition. I have a certificate in Social Media Marketing and Photoshop. Currently, I am studying Digital Marketing.
I live with my husband, Darren, in Johannesburg. My two step-daughters are still in school and my son works in wildlife protection close to the Kruger National Park.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Shh…this is a secret: I will be publishing something in 2018 under a different pseudonym. All will be revealed soon!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always dabbled a little with writing stories, but never anything serious. Most of the stories played out in my head and I have been creating fantasy worlds as far back as I can remember. I am an avid reader and my favourite genre is fantasy.
When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Osteoarthritis in 2013, I decided that life is too short not to follow your dream. After struggling for two years to find the right medication for me, I then started writing my first novel in January 2015.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first book was published in February 2016, it took a little while to sink in that I was a published author. The first two years of my writing career were tough, and I would say that only since the beginning of 2017 was I comfortable with calling myself an author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was my illness that made the decision for me to start writing, but the stories have always been in my head. I love writing and I wish I could write the stories as fast as I can think them.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My first trilogy is all about Elves with elemental magic. Book 1 was supposed to be called “Elemental”, with 2 and 3 having different titles. It was my son who suggested to call book 1 “Elemental Rising”, as in the story the heroine learns what it means to have these powers.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style depends on what I am writing. So far, only my fantasy novels have been released which, I believe, work best in third person, past tense. With fantasy, you also have a lot of leeway with regards to names, strange words and, if you’re up to it, you can even make up your own language to go with your work.
I do, however, also write dystopian fantasy (yet to be published), which is in a completely different style. – Coming soon, I promise
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My stories are pure fantasy/fiction. I do include some of my own experiences and, as some of my closer friends would tell you, the heroine of my trilogy, as well as the short stories, does have a lot of my own traits – good and bad.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel for my fantasy novels…except for in my dreams.
For my dystopian novels, there is research I am currently doing, which entails driving around town, writing down street names, scenery descriptions and so forth. It is a lot of fun.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I believe I have the best cover designer in the world. Gemma Poppet Rice from Southern Stiles Design. She is amazing. I will give her a (very) brief description of the book I am writing and half an hour later she will present me with my first draft.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, but it is subtle and if some readers do not notice it, it will not diminish the story. There are some issues in life that I feel strongly about,and I will include some of these from time to time.
(For example, in Elemental Rising, I talk about how badly polluted Earth is by the year 2195)
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Before I started writing, I only read international authors. (I especially like Robin Hobb, Tony Park, Andy McDermott)
I have since met some wonderful South African authors (who are also international bestsellers), and am now reading their works too. (Ashleigh Giannoccaro, Gemma Rice, Poppet, Sian B. Claven, Joanne Macgregor to name but a few)
We have some amazing talent in South Africa and I am honoured to call them my peers.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Other South African authors. It is a wonderful community.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I am currently working on 5 different projects, but all in all, I have 35 different works outlined, with even more planned. I will be writing for a while and, hopefully soon, full time.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not really. I made mistakes in the beginning (I still do), but I have learned from them and without them, I would not be where I am now.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Patience, acceptance, endurance.
I am naturally impatient and want everything done as soon as possible. Do to some health issues, as well as moving to a new house, my time schedule for my short story series moved up by three months. It was frustrating in the beginning that I could not keep to my release dates, but I have now accepted it and am working diligently to get them to my readers as soon as possible.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I cannot lie, I have thought about my books as movies many times. My family and friends have varying opinions about which actor/actress should play which part.
For me, all I would like is for James Cameron to direct it.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Advice for aspiring or new writers: Persist. Keep writing. Anything is possible. Follow your dreams!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
My slogan is: Step Into My World
When you need to escape from reality after a hard day at work, step into my world of dragons and magic and let your worries be forgotten for a while.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
- Happy Holidays Anthology
- A Lump of Coal for Christmas (by Ashleigh Giannoccaro)
- Master of Dragons (by Chris Wraight)
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I grew up on German fairy tales, but the first real book I read, and which started me on my reading adventure, was “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: My family, my friends…and any good horse meme
Cry: Animal abuse. Plus many other things caused by “the human condition”
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I recently met Tony Park (author of “Ivory”, “An Empty Coast”, “The Delta” and many more) at a book launch event in Johannesburg. Inspiring.
I would also love to chat to Robin Hobb, Stephen King, Andy McDermott and some other writing greats – get their perspective on writing and maybe a tip or two.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I used to ride horses a lot. Now, not so much anymore, mostly because of time constraints. When time allows, it is my favourite hobby.
I love to read, crochet, puzzle and I do scrapbooking.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Every now and then I will binge-watch a series, but in general, I do not watch a lot of TV.
My favourite movies are “Avatar” and “Jupiter Ascending”
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favourite food: Mushroom ragout and pecan nut pie
Favourite colour: I love magenta (and other purples), as well as green, black, white and most natural tones.
Favourite band: Of Monsters and Men
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I don’t want to imagine that – it would give me nightmares!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I followed my dreams
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?