Wednesday, October 19, 2011

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Tonya Macalino (author of Spectre of Intention)

Good morning, all! It's time for our second stop of the day along the Bewitching Book Tours literary route, this time featuring the wonderful Tonya Macalino, author of Spectre of Intention.

Tonya lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with her husband and two children. She is an avid collector of folklore and folk history, far too many to fit comfortably within the pages of any given book. When not working on her latest novel, she runs a handcrafted lotion, cosmetics, and bath company.

To read more of the little gems she unearthed during her research, please visit her blog.

Before we get into Tonya's interview and my review (not to mention her fantastic giveaway!), let's take a quick look at at Spectre of Intention:

"Secrets, Kaitlin. Secrets.”

Kaitlin Osgood has a stowaway.

Underneath the glossy shell of the Senior VP for Countermeasures International lurks the tattered remains of the girl she once was: street rat and thief, Ashley Porter. Every day, every decision is brittle with the fear of discovery.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the cruise ship acting as the platform for the latest space elevator, she should finally be safe…

…safe from the sexy, enigmatic eyes of Director of Port Security Camden Glaswell who seems to see through Kaitlin’s ruse.

…safe from the relentless, burning pursuit of master thief, Stephan Chen, the chief architect of Kaitlin’s former life of crime—the onetime lover who haunts her still.

But Kaitlin has another secret: her talent for security comes not from the latest technology, but from her ability to sense people’s emotions, to see the ghosts of their intentions.

It’s a talent she must learn to wield as a weapon before the mistakes of her past cost Kaitlin her life…

Without further ado, please welcome the lovely Tonya Macalino!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little.about yourself.

Alright then, a little introduction: My name is Tonya Macalino. I write futuristic paranormal thrillers…and I haven’t read a trashy romance novel in two hours, twenty-three minutes, and thirty-five seconds. Sorry, that introduction just sounded very AA, so I figured it needed a confession tacked to the end of it!

So yes, I’m a cross-genre writer. It’s my way of combining my love of upcoming technologies with my equally passionate love of folklore and folk history. In SPECTRE OF INTENTION, the combination is space elevator and lie detection technology interwoven with pioneer and space program lore.

Balancing all that data with high speed action and the complex head games intrinsic to a character who is one part empath, one part oracle, and desperately in love with her arch-nemesis was aneurysm-worthy some days!

♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

Long journey? Yes, that might be an understatement. I wrote my first “book” when I was four. Three decades and some change later found me standing in front of the fireplace finally holding a print copy of my book in my hands, looking somewhat bemused. Thousands of dollars of workshops and college courses; thousands of hours stolen away from friends and family. And this is it? This little brick of paper?

But then I started flipping through it and I saw my words and I knew they were the RIGHT words this time. And then the first newspaper article came out and I realized, “Wow, this is really happening…”

♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?

Well, like I mentioned before, I have a built-in fascination with technology and folklore, so that tends to show up in all my work. Which is ironic because I have a mind like a steel sieve—those ever important names and dates just fall right on through the holes! I usually have about five browser windows open and four books stacked next to me while I write.

There are always mystical and romantic elements to my work as well. I seem to get bored without them and there is nothing worse that a bored author! In this particular work, the main character had some rather serious psychological/emotional problems and the empath/oracle “gift” worked well as a metaphor for that.

♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?

My past heavily influences my writing. I know there are a lot of writing gurus out there who advise strongly against that, but I don’t worry too awfully much. I’ve lived so many different places, so had many different kinds of lives. And I managed to survive my twenties when so many of us put a tremendous amount of energy into trying to flush our lives down the toilet. Truly, I can’t imagine running out of material.

♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?

I am a schedule and routine sort of person. I am in an extremely busy time of life right now and if I didn’t set some really specific boundaries, I would never get anything done.

When it comes to putting together a book, I spend about a month researching and outlining, nailing down every last little detail of background I can so it doesn’t interrupt the writing process. Once I begin writing, I drop the hammer and go full throttle for two months straight, writing mornings and evenings every day. I try to hit it as often as possible to keep my momentum and the story’s tone even.

After that I punt it over to my round one readers and spend the next two to four weeks trying to put my life back together!!!

♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?

I do have a sound track. My current one consists of:

Under the Milky Way (The Church)
Clocks (Coldplay)
Bring Me to Life (Evanescence)
My Immortal (Evanescence)
Walk on the Moon (Great Big Sea)
Boston & St. John’s (Great Big Sea)
Secrets (OneRepublic)

Having music on in a repetitive loop in the background, helps that “overthinking” section of my brain shut down and lets me stay in the zone more easily.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?

For me, it’s the critiquing, hands down. Sitting there listening to people tell you that you blew it is never a delightful experience no matter what you are doing and no matter how carefully they tell you. I never truly appreciated what a colossal ego I have until I got into a serious critique group! But I am learning to get over it. After all, no surprise-attack ego is ever going to out-fight my desire to grow as a writer.

♥ Is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of? Something that reminds you of why writing is important to you?

I have a passage that I am currently madly in love with. It is from the book I am working on right now, so I can’t even promise you it will ever see the light of day except in this interview, but pretty well sums up what writing is for me.

The bad guy has just slipped up behind our heroine as she is gazing at the Venetian ruins and imagining them as they once were:

“Think if they could see what you are seeing. The intoxicating juxtaposition between past and present. Think if they could absorb the stories we come from into their psyches as easily as if they had lived them themselves—the fairies, the witches, the ghosts, the devils, the traitorous doges.”

♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?

I have a small lotion and bath products business, Rustling Sage, that keeps me out of trouble—better known as a hobby rampaging out of control! But really, I put most of my imaginary spare time into staying connected with our little downtown community and my neighbors, friends, and family. I don’t think there is anything more valuable than the friends we keep and the time and attention we spend to make sure our loved ones feel valued. Corny perhaps, but there you have it.

♥ Is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who refreshes your literary batteries?

That has changed constantly over the years. As a kid, my heroes were Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman, authors of the Dragon Lance series. I figured if I could ever write a bad guy as complex as their evil twin brother, Raistlin the mage, I had it made. A little older and Nora Roberts overtook the podium. If I could just find the magic touch for speaking so easily to the “everywoman,” THEN I would have it made. After that came Suzanne Brockmann and her emotional honesty. Following her came Charlaine Harris and her ability to turn a humorous eye on the minutiae of everyday small town life while still maintaining the integrity of a larger, darker plot line… I could keep going for hours.

♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?

Ha! No to all. I am so absorbed with trying to be TRUE that there simply isn’t any room left in my brain for those kinds of considerations.

♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?

I’ve had a couple people tell me that they stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning to finish my book. I’ll tell you that knocked me on the floor. I don’t think a writer can get a much higher compliment than that!

♥ When you're looking to escape into a really good book (the kind that makes you miss appointments, forget about dinner, and stay up way too late), which authors do you generally reach for, and why?

Charlaine Harris—I am so caught up in that soap opera by now!!!
Galen Beckett—Jane Austen meets the sorcerer. Yummy!
Patricia Briggs—She really pulls off that Terrible Majesty of the otherworld.
Kelley Armstrong—Magical intrigue mixed with lots of taut romance.
Gail Carigger—Steampunked vampires and werewolves. She even managed to make the sex scenes primly funny!
Neil Gaiman/Patricia McKillip—I don’t read a lot of them, but sometimes a girl just needs a good shot of cerebral mysticism where the shadows from the tales of yore lurk menacingly just at the edge of our ken.

Okay, I’m going to stop now!

♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

It’s funny, but sadly I was just thinking the other day that I don’t seem to get those anymore. Maybe it’s a disease of being happily married? Or maybe because I spend most of my time creating romantic heroes of my own.

But if I had the chance to spend time with anyone famous, I think it would be the members of the Canadian band Great Big Sea. I can’t imagine as strangers that we would have endless conversations. No, I rather imagine instead hiking up to a mountain lake and singing along with them beside a campfire as the sparks wind their way toward the stars.

Oh, yes, and while we’re at it, in this fantasy, they don’t snicker at my atrocious singing!

♥ If your book were being made into a movie, and you had total control over the production, who would you cast for the leading roles?

Hmm. This is a tough one. Okay, I’m going to give it my best shot:

Kaitlin, our heroine: Kate Beckinsale or Natalie Portman. It needs to be somebody who can pull off dreamy, fierce, and fragile all in the same character.
Cam, our hero: Josh Duhamel from Transformers. I think he could do fun-loving civilian and serious law enforcement at the same time.
Stephan, the criminal ex-lover: Sung Kang from Fast & Furious. Don’t think he’d have any problems pulling off the sincere bad boy!
Jessie, the mentor: Chris Hemsworth from Star Trek and Thor. That soothing voice and those kind eyes. Perfect.
Gerard, pain-in-the-toosh sidekick: Colin Farrell—he’s got both the intensity and the obnoxious ne’er-do-well thing going on.

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

Are you kidding? With the kind of stuff I read? I value my life too much to go visiting those worlds: murder, firefights, emotional manipulation, intrigue. I am a low drama kind of girl.


I just thought of one: Nora Roberts’ version of Ireland. The close knit, caring communities; the spectacular countryside; the romance of all that history; the music and camaraderie at the pubs in the evening—she makes it sound like paradise!

♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?

Ah, here would be a good place to leave a quote from THIS book. The heroine is in a museum exhibit and is listening to a quote from astronaut, Stu Roosa, followed by her own musings.

“I’ve always believed in exploration… Exploration is the greatest adventure. And exploration is why we’re no longer huddled up in caves. Or no longer huddled up on the eastern seaboard, in thirteen colonies. Or why we carved this tremendous nation out of a wilderness… This spirit that took us to the moon is the same spirit that moved our forefathers west across the country. And as they carried the flag west, why, we carried it to the moon.”

Risking safety, security, risking love and life. For….

For freedom, for the chance to become something more, for the chance to become a part of something greater. Insanity, maybe. I held a secret little smile to myself. But then it took a little divorce from reality to do anything worth doing—chasing a dream, loving a relative stranger, building a new life.

So, the book is about finding what it takes to be a pioneer, to do the impossible whether it is riding a rocket to the moon or—in her case—mentally and physically escaping a dangerous relationship. It’s about letting go and taking that first brave, blind step into the unknown.

♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

The manuscript I’m polishing right now is a project very close to my heart. It is the first of a seven book series set in the drowned ruins of Venice. Venice has been closed off as a quarantine camp for carriers of Sleepers’ Syndrome—a terrifying and mysterious disease wherein any child under the age of sixteen who comes in contact with a carrier falls instantly into a stasis-like coma.

Our heroine, a sensory artist for holographic films, becomes trapped in the camp and must fight her way free. But her captors, the carriers, are other than what they seem. The city may sleep, but her legends live again.

And tonight they begin their Hunt.

The book is called FACES IN THE WATER and the series is THE SHADES OF VENICE. If your interest is piqued, there is a short, rough draft excerpt available on my website at FACES is due out by the end of the year, but you can get updates as the release becomes more imminent on my Facebook page at

Thanks so much for welcoming my visit to your online community! Please feel free to drop me a line anytime!


Thanks so much to Ashley for stopping by. To help celebrate the release of Spectre of Intention, Tonya is giving away 2 prize packs (Open to US and Canada Shipping Only Please) during her tour:

The Space Elevator Gift Pak includes:
Liftport Retro Print
Clarke City Retro Print
LIFTPORT: OPENING SPACE TO EVERYONE - an anthology of science fiction short stories and technical articles on space elevator technology
Liftport products Courtesy of Liftport Group

The Spa Gift Pak includes:SPECTRE OF INTENTION
Chamomile Soap
Rose Lip Dew Wand
Cornflower Petals in Honeyed Oats Bath Bomb
Rouge of Last Light Shimmer Bar
Grapefruit Sea Breeze Bath Salts
Spa products courtesy of Rustling Sage

To enter, just fill out the form below:

 If you'd like to follow Tonya's virtual journey in support of Spectre of Intention check out her schedule at Bewitching Book Tours. You can also follow her on, The Story of Place Blog, Facebook. her Amazon Author Page, Shelfari, and Goodreads.



Spectre of Intention is a fantastic read . . . a novel that puts a very sci-fi spin on what initially seems to be a traditional caper, but quickly becomes something more. The story starts out with a very nervous young woman about to embark upon her first space voyage. We quickly learn she's not who she pretends to be, but it's not until she makes it onto the space elevator that we realise she's running from her past.

The narrative is a bit odd to get used to, because Kaitlin refers to herself as "I", "Kaitlin", and "Ashley", depending on what memories or personality she's referring to. Once you get used to it, however, this fractured narrative really adds to the story.

Adding to the sci-fi theme (which is mostly background and setting, so don't let it turn you away), there's also a great psychological element. Kaitlin can 'see' what others are thinking and feeling, which is an interesting talent, especially since her reaction to it can change those very same thoughts. There's definitely some potential here for the story to get lazy or bogged down, but Tonya juggles it all beautifully, making it work.

This is a very dark, very edgy, very creepy story, but there are some moments of romance and humour. It's a very tense read, and one that almost demands your full attention, so the brief mood changes are definitely welcome. Fast-paced, with well-written dialogue, and a mystery that teases you from chapter to chapter, this was definitely a fun read.


  1. Wow, Sally, thanks so much for the wonderful review! Thanks too for letting me drop by and visit your community here. Take care and best of luck in all that you do!

  2. This sounds really good, thanks for sharing your views on this!


  3. Thanks so much, Winnie! I hope you enjoy it!