Between two Fires and Toni Williams
Sharmishtha Basu(Indie Adda): Tell us something about yourself Toni.
Toni Williams: I was born and have lived much of my life in Saint Lucia, a 238-square-mile island located in the Eastern Caribbean. Presently, I live in a small mountain village overlooking the island’s east coast. It’s a quiet, rural place and the people in the community speak mostly Kwéyòl, as is done in practically all the villages. It’s an old French dialect mixed with a spattering of West African words that evolved amongst the African slaves who were kept in bondage when Saint Lucia was colonised by the French and the British during the 17th and 18th centuries. It changed hands between the French and the British 14 times as they fought bitterly over it.
I’ve always loved writing and storytelling since I was a child. For a long time my dream of beconing a writer eluded me because of the need to earn a living and survive, and the pressues of daily life. On leaving school I turned to journalism and worked at it for a few years before breaking off and going to manage a family-owned banana plantation like my two older brothers did before me. Several years later I jumped ship and returned to journalism, and became an editor for the Crusader newspaper in St. Lucia. I’ve also worked for a few years as a corporate communications executive for the telecommunications firm, Cable & Wireless (St. Lucia).
Currently, I do mostly freelancing. I’m also the editor of Dazzle (http://dazzlethemag.com/), a local magazine featuring young, successful entrepreneurs and their life experiences and achievements. I am a Reuters Fellow (Green Templeton College, Oxford).
For the past five years I’ve been using my website,
Caribbean Book Blog (https://caribbeanbookblog.wordpress.com/) to provide my readers with updates on new books and the latest developments in the global publishing industry.
Sharmishtha Basu(Indie Adda): So you are an editor, that is quite an achievement for sure! Which role is more enjoyable, holding the red pen or blue pen?
Toni Williams: I enjoy both roles. One of the main reasons I love editing is because it gives me the pleasure of working with fellow journalists and writers to help hone and shape their work into literary gems so that they shine on the page. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes go over your work since a stranger is more likely to spot what you would miss because you’re too close, and in some cases too emotionally attached to the work. It’s a rewarding process and both the writer and the editor can learn from it.
Sharmishtha Basu(Indie Adda): Tell us something about Dazzle and your other ventures.
Toni Williams: Dazzle is a business magazine and it provides exposure to young professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as established businesses. It is published both in print and online. The individuals featured all have one thing in common. They are passionate about their business ideas and their career paths, and they’re determined to succeed. They’re also eager to share their experiences to encourage and inspire more young people to pursue their dreams and seek out opportunities to create their own business ventures. It also has sections on technology, health and wellness and much more.
Aside from journalism, my main focus right now is on promoting my new novel Between Two Fires, which was released in February this year. It’s crime fiction and the first volume of the trilogy Dread Desires.
Last but not the least, tell us about your book, everything you want to share with us! The more, the merrier we shall be! Don’t forget to add the direct link from where we can buy it.
‘Between Two Fires.’ is a murder mystery set on a fictional island off the coast of Saint Lucia, and partly in Saint Lucia.
It uses the cultural dynamics of the Caribbean to explore some burning contemporary social issues, including female empowerment, gender conflicts in relationships and the waning of love in an age of extreme materialism where the trending mantra is ‘greed is good.’
It sets out, first and foremost, to captivate and entertain. At the same time it challenges the reader to ponder over issues that many of us are reluctant to confront; for example, feminine ambition versus the male ego, the tenuousness of phenomenal wealth, and the way how romantic attachments can disarm us and lay bare our vulnerabilities and even our darker side.
For anyone who has had enough of predictable and formulaic murder-mysteries and is looking for something different, Between Two Fires offers just that. And because the story is set in a ‘closed’ environment, this enhances the mystery element and adds to the suspense by giving fans of the genre the familiar experience of following along as the mystery unfolds and they try to decipher the clues. This is one of the things readers tell me they really love about the book – the drama and suspense, and the way it has them virtually spellbound, so much that once they start reading it they just can’t put it down.
It is available at all major online bookstores including the following:
Sharmishtha Basu (Indie Adda): This is your first book. How does it feels to join the author club and to see your name on the cover of the first book?
Toni Williams: Extremely gratifying! It’s a dream I’ve nourished and from childhood and finally it has come to pass. Marketing and promoting it has been a big challenge, as most writers would know all too well, but I’m enjoying the experience and learning a lot from it.
Sharmishtha Basu (Indie Adda): Any suggestions for wannabes?
Toni Williams: If your dream is to become a writer and you firmly belive that you’ve got what it takes then, by all means, go for it! But first, learn the art writing and how to write well. You must be committed to mastering your craft. Aim for success but prepare yourself mentally for rejections, especially if you choose the route of traditional publishing.
Thankfully, because of all the new advancements in technology, you can now publish your work when you want to, in the way you think best and from virtually any part of the world. This is quite empowering. It allows writers to take charge in creating the future they want for themselves rather than solely depending on a handful of individuals to determine whether or not they deserve to have a career as a writer. Earning higher royalties than you would with traditional publishing is another plus, if you succeed.
Of course, this freedom comes at a cost. Your book must be top-notch and able to compete with those produced by traditional publishers, in terms of its editorial quality and its ability to impress readers. You also need to have a promotional game plan that is well thought out and creative in order to connect with potential readers. That calls for a lot of time, energy and hard work – especially if you’re trying to do it while working at a fulltime job.
My final word of advice is, don’t give in to the fear of failure. Whenever you feel self doubt and you become afraid, always remember that fear is a controllable force. It will wax and wane, depending on how you feel and how you navigate through life. Don’t try and run away from it or pretend that it isn’t there. You have to confront it. Examine it closely to determine the root cause of it. Often you will find that it is your own insecurities that are feeding and nurturing the fear and causing it to grow. I discovered that the images fear creates in my mind are more often than not the creations of my own thoughts. That was when I realized that fear only has the power that you give it.
Sharmishtha Basu@ Indie Adda: How can we contact you If we want to read your blogs or write you a mail?
Toni Williams: You can reach me at any of the following:
Between Two Fires
Critique by Sharmishtha Basu
Between two fires is Tony Williams first novel, it is placed in a fictitious island, which he has based on his own island home, as he has told himself. It is the story of a man, who comes to the island on invitation and gets sucked in a murder mystery, of very mysterious type I will say! Tony kept us guessing till end!
When I first started reading the novel the first thing that caught my attention, fully was the fantastic description of the island, it somehow reminded me of my favorite author (one of the) Somerset Maugham’s vivid description of places he visited, that is, his characters visited, it is easier to paint an imaginary scene in surreal way in the mind of reader methinks, but it is far more tough to paint a mundane scene with realistic description, that is what Tony Williams did in his novel.
Had I not known already that it was a murder mystery I might have thought it was a romantic novel. So I was not surprised when it took turn and from a forbidden (in more than one sense) romance it became a fantastic crime thriller, honestly, Tony wove the mystery well, he kept us guessing till climax- who was the murderer! Well, as I have told you, I knew that it was a murder mystery before I started reading it, and when I started reading the book I picked up wo probable victims in my mind, as the story progressed I added one or two more but the actual victim was a surprise too! These are the things that make a crime thriller a real thriller I believe, the author knowing what you are thinking and doing what he wants to do!
The second thing I loved about this book is its touch of class. It never reduced itself to one of those books you will read and forget. The ones critiques rudely call two penny thrillers and romances I believe! You buy them, read them once and years later you suddenly notice them gathering dust and cobwebs, in a corner of the bookshelf where you want to place the next two penny novel, so you pick it up and recycle, because you will not read it second time, there is nothing but the “murder mystery” in it, and once you know whodunit you have nothing else to look into it.
Between two fires on the other hand creates a very strong leading character, Rudy, know, he is not Captain America, but he is very alive, very human being and yes, he makes a place in your mind, you can understand him and once in a while relate to him too, that is not an easy thing, believe me, being a bookworm I know, how authors fail to create characters, being a writer I know how tough it is, I always fail to give my characters the substance Tony Williams has given in his first novel. Rudy is someone you can understand. Someone who makes mistakes but does not lowers himself too low! We all make mistakes, and having a fling with a married woman is nothing praiseworthy in my dictionary, so he does commits mistakes, but only human level mistakes, only human level ones! When he is being forced to do something ugly he protests openly, risking his own neck! I was glad that he was spared his life and the sin too!
Actually I read two interesting characters back to back, Tony Williams’s Rudy and Dayna Leigh Cheser’s Logan, I have two more stories in my hand to finish, and after that I will be repeating these books again, read them more thoroughly! Coming from me, you can be sure that I liked them both, because I rarely repeat books that don’t intrigue me.
There are books in my collection that I have not finished once, there are books I have not repeated and there are books that have been read so many times that their pages are falling out- like Aranyak by Bibhutibhushan and Maupassant’s collection of short story. So I can call myself quite fussy when it comes to reading and liking. I read almost everything, like very few!
The things I loved most about Between two fires by Tony Williams is its fantastic language- Tony’s English is smooth, easy and rich! His description is very alive and his capacity of creating an actual mystery is at par! Even the end was surprise, honestly I was thinking in another track after the mystery was solved!
I can see some more fantastic books coming from his desk in future.