Toby Neal Talks Unsound
Toby Neal’s crime novels featuring Lei Texeira have kept us up too late on many occasions (we recommend starting with the first one, Blood Orchids, pronto!) She sat down with us to talk about her new standalone.
1) Unsound is a departure from your riveting crime series featuring Lei Texeira. Can you tell us about that new direction?
From the time that Dr. Wilson appeared in Blood Orchids, readers were asking for a book about her and I finally got to it! And when I did, it took a whole different direction and feel than the rest of the series. I left my usual outlines behind and tried the “Stephen King method” he recommends in On Writing: take well rounded characters with deep needs and flaws and throw them into a situation, and write what happens. I loved this very different and organic process and by the time I wrote the book, I knew Dr. Wilson well enough to write from the first person with no difficulty. I was inspired for the beginning of the book by finding a very mysterious, mud spattered lost shoe outside the door of my therapy office, and that’s when I knew I wanted Unsound to start with the scene I saw. I knew I wanted Unsound to be a deeper kind of book that raised thought provoking questions, and made you wonder about the nature of evil and even madness, and I set it on Haleakala, a beautiful and extreme setting, because of a recent 3-day hike there:
2) Hawaii is almost a character in your books. The sense of place is so vivid. What’s it like living in and writing about paradise?
I feel like it’s something I’ve always been meant to do. My passion for Hawaii goes three generations deep, beginning with my grandfather, a famous marine biologist and one of the original ocean conservationists who raised my mom in Honolulu in the 1950s, to my mom and my dad, a surfer, to me…growing up on Kauai, and then my children who were raised here on Maui.
Hawaii is not just a tropical destination. It’s a place full of depth, beauty and complexity that is tattooed on your heart once you become a part of the cultural tapestry.
3) What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I went from working three jobs in mental health to getting up, drinking my coffee and writing 1200-1500 words, going swimming in the ocean for exercise and walking on the beach, coming home and revising, editing and marketing, and then seeing my private practice therapy clients in the afternoons. My life is all I’ve dreamed of after working very hard for a long time. I write and work virtually every day and I love it. I’ve written four and a half books this year and four last year, and I’ve earned the name “The Machine” among my writer friends!
4) What can readers expect next from you (and Lei)?
I’m about to release my first contemporary fiction romance, called Somewhere on Maui. Look for it in November on all digital platforms! After that, Shattered Palms is up next, and involves a great new plot involving endangered native birds, murder by crossbow, a wedding and a family secret. Then I’ll do another Lei Crime Companion book with the enigmatic Sophie Ang, FBI computer whiz and MMA fighter. I enjoy doing the Companion books and exploring the side characters of the Lei Crime Series!
5) What books are sitting on your nightstand at the moment?
Wow, I have a great lineup right now, not including the hundreds on my Kindle! I’m reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Wishing Hill by Holly Robinson, Wild Nights by Mary Ellen Courtney, Highwire Moon by Susan Straight, Arcadia by Lauren Goff, and Zen and the Art of Writing by Bradbury. I nibble them like chocolates, whatever I’m in the mood for, before I go to bed.
Toby is offering a free eBook of Unsound to one lucky reader! Leave a message for Toby in the comments below by Friday November 8th and we’ll pick a winner. You can also order your own copy of Unsound here.
If you’d like to be featured as an author on Shelf Pleasure, email us here.
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