Posted on 07/10/2018 at 12:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
No one, including Tonya Kappes herself, would've predicted that she would become a bestselling author.
Kappes didn’t even become a reader until she was in her early thirties, when a grad school classmate lured her out of post-divorce seclusion to a book club ... with promises of wine and chocolate.
It still took her a few weeks to even bother picking up the book, but once she did, she was hooked.
A few years later, when Kappes had remarried, her new husband wasn’t as impressed with the book club offerings, though.
He told her she could tell a story better than the published author could. So she put that claim to the test, spinning a tale in front of her book club.
They too were entranced. They suggested that she write a novel.
Kappes put that advice to work as well, and in her words, she’s never looked back. (Nor did she ever stop working, judging from this interview!)
Today, she’s a USA Today bestseller, with several mystery series to her two pen names and tons of adoring fans — one of whom recommended we reach out to her.
SADYE: You were known as a storyteller, but not as a writer or reader. How did you refine your technical skills?
TONYA: I went to a lot of writing conference and joined writer groups. I also have had very good editors — that has really taught me a lot.
SADYE: And then how did people, beyond your husband and book club, react to your decision to write?
TONYA: At first people would look at me like I was crazy when I told them I was writing.
But when I quit my child therapist job to write full time was when I really got their attention.
SADYE: When did you realize that you’d actually made it as a writer?
TONYA: It wasn't even making the USA Today list with TWO books in one week —and it wasn't in a box set with other authors; it was just my book.
That's amazing in itself, but it was when the Kenni Lowry mystery series was sold to Dreamscape in a ten-book audio deal (books hadn't even been written) and my dream narrator auditioned.
When she walked in to audition, my heart dropped and I immediately said that we didn't need to audition the rest. I'm still starstruck over her.
SADYE: You were originally self-published but have, in the past few years, signed some trad-pub contracts. What’s the perk of each?
TONYA: Honestly, to me it's about my eggs not being in one basket.
I like the traditional arena because I can go to book festivals and sign, since some of them don't let self-published authors in.
Self-publishing is my favorite because I'm in control of my entire process and I believe I know what my readers like better than anyone.
SADYE: What prompted you to launch another pen name?
TONYA: When I took the contract from Crooked Lane for the Southern Cake Baker Mystery Series — it is a straight cozy.
There’s no paranormal in it, which is what I’ve written for so long in my cozies.
My granny’s name is Mamie, and I love that name. It was in her honor that I decided to use a variation of her name as my pen name (Maymee Bell).
Now I look back and think that I probably didn’t need to do that.
SADYE: Have you seen any ghosts or otherworldly creatures?
TONYA: I've never seen a ghost, but I did live in a haunted house with a spirit by the name of Martha Meyers.
I was even on a ghost hunter’s radio broadcast for it! She lived with me for five years.
A few things she liked to do: turn on all the faucets in the house at 3 a.m. and steal items like my hair dryer/clothes iron/camera and put them in my dish cabinet in the kitchen.
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Categories: Author Interview