I'm pleased to welcome Toni V. Sweeney to the Author Spotlight today! Toni's new release, Serpent's Tooth, will be released by Class Act Books this month. Take it away, Toni...
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll…and demon worship…
Most of my novels are set either in a fantasy medieval past or in a futuristic galaxy “far, far away.” Serpent’s Tooth is the first to be placed in a contemporary setting.
In 1988, Hildebrandt, the most successful rock star of that era and an actor who had brought to life one of the most famous horror characters ever created, disappears from his beachhouse, never to be heard of again. In 2009, while on a Carribean cruise, Savannah librarian Melissa Powers discovers herself being stalked by a mysterious cowboy. Agreeing to a midnight rendevouz with the man calling himself Travis Brandt, she discovers his real identity—Hildrebrandt, coming out of his self-imposed exile after twenty years of hiding in the sandhills of Nebraska. Before the cruise is over, Melissa and Travis are involved in a frantic and frightening love affair which ends in a hasty marriage, and the Nebraska cowboy takes the Southern spinster back to his ranch as his wife. In the midst of her happiness, however, Melissa feels as if Travis isn’t telling her the whole truth about why he left Hollywood, and after seeing how attentive he is to his neighbor’s son and daughter, his assertion that he doesn’t want children also rings false. So what is he hiding and why is he lying?
Only too soon, she finds out.
What should have been a happy ending, with two people starting a new life together, is only the beginning, as the horror Travis left behind when he fled Hollywood is now awakened to once more reach out and threaten the former movie star and his new bride.
In a series of flashbacks mirroring events in the present, Travis’ rise and fall are told--the story of a University of Nebraska junior meeting a famous actress …an invitation to go to Hollywood to star with her in a movie…success, money, drugs…the loss of love and the discovery of sex…and Travis’ dedication of himself and his unborn children to a demon who’s now come to claim what he’s owed.
Serpent’s Tooth is my own variation on the Faust legend. It was written in 1980 and had to be completely revised and updated before it was submitted to Class Act Books a few months ago. Not only did I have to change the dates (Hildebrandt’s original decamp from Tinsel Town took place in 1878, which would have been 30 years ago instead of 20 and that would have made him too old for my story), but I also had to add the Internet and cell phones and a few other modernities. I couldn’t help but feel amazed at what has occurred since I originally wrote this story but reading over it, I saw so many places where lifestyles changed and inventions not existing at the time it was written are now commonplace. Not trusting my memory, I did a lot of research into the ’80, especially regarding the music, and current events. I also wanted to combine the Southern atmosphere of my younger days with the place I now reside, Nebraska. Thus Melissa is a Southerner, a woman in her early 40’s who’s goes on a cruise to ease the memories of her mother’s death. Travis is also in his 40’s, a man who fled back to his Nebraska roots in order to hide, a man ready to do whatever is necessary to become a success, who now finds himself afraid to love again because of a drug-induced promise he made two decades before. They are opposites—one a sheltered old maid, the other an orphan who’s always taken care of himself—each seeing something in the other to fulfill a need, thrown together by Fate and a love which is going to be tested in the worse way imaginable.
Serpent's Tooth is a love story but it’s also a horror story, with a typical Toni V. Sweeney ending. I imagine some people may not like it. Still, I feel it’s an entertaining story and I’m hoping those who do buy it will enjoy it.
Learn more about Toni at her website: www.tonivsweeney.com.
Cate: Sounds fantastic, Toni! Thanks again for being my guest today. Best of luck with Serpent's Tooth.
Readers, if you have any questions or comments, fire away!