Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job? If yes, how do you divide your time?
I am a clinical social worker in private practice as well as a writer. I am doing well enough as a writer to leave my practice, but I worked very hard to get all my degrees, and I LOVE helping people heal and overcome, so I doubt I’ll ever leave my therapy work entirely.

What are some of your favorite curse words?
“Son of a beehive!” and “Shozbot!” Sometimes I will indulge in the occasional F bomb, like when I stub my toe really bad.

Do you have a motto you live by?
I enjoy mottoes and slogans and use them all the time in my therapy practice to help clients. For myself, I use “Anything worth doing, is worth doing excellently” and “the best revenge for a dystfunctional childhood is a life filled with joy” I also like “it is what it is” to help accept things that can’t be changed.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Hawaii, the incredible place I grew up in. My clients and therapy work. Nature, and interesting news articles/investigation pieces I read.

What is the best advice you’ve received as a writer?
Stephen King’s On Writing: “ideas are like fossils and the writer just uncovers them.” I also like his formula of putting interesting characters in a situation and letting them fight it out. He emphasizes discipline and writing every day, which I do.

How would you define your style of writing?
Cinematic, fast-paced, dialogue driven, with lyrical bits

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I enjoy writing love and friendship scenes, setting description, and action. I hate writing departmental meetings reviewing a case (which is a part of police work and police procedural stories, my main genre.)

Do you outline, plot and structure, or do you just sit down and write?
I outline about ¾ of the book and let the last fourth be filled with surprises (even to me) and I write character bios and a logline before I start a new book.

Aside from people/pets, what is the ONE item you would save if your house was on fire?
My paintings!

Favorite place you’ve traveled to or would like to travel to?
Italy. I’ve been three times. I love just about everything about Italy and have some relatives by marriage. Ah, la dolce vita! They really know how to live—wine, lovemaking, great art, afternoon naps, affectionate family life…what’s not to love?

Favorite style of music?
Classic rock and any kind of guitar music.

The best gift you’ve ever received?
My husband gave me a Kari McCarthy painting this year for my birthday. Best present ever! Mike gave me a tiny painting the size of a matchbox all wrapped up and said, “all I can afford of her work, honey.” I was in raptures, and had to hit him when he was just teasing and he’d actually bought a much bigger piece and I could pick it out at her studio.  We met, and it ends up she’s painting one of my own photographs. I’m so thrilled with the whole experience. She’s expensive and only getting more so, so I’m going to have a real treasure that I’ll enjoy every day feasting my eyes on.

Name something you cannot go a day without.
Hugs and smiles from the ones I love!


Toby Neal can be reached on her Website, Facebook, Twitter

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