Posted on July 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing Toni Kief, author of contemporary women’s fiction and flash fiction.
Kief is from a small Midwestern town and a family of high spirits and laughter. Presently living in a small town in Washington state, she plans to stay for the view, trees, and friends.
Her life story includes decades in insurance claims as one of the first women outside casualty investigators. A longtime civil rights activist, she shares stories about lunches with politicians, leaders, and artists.
Kief didn’t start writing until she was sixty years old as a challenge from a friend. She joined a writer’s group that specialized in flash fiction, which helped move her to novels.
She prefers to write about women of “a certain age” and has five books independently published.
Finally retired, she continues to gathers stories prime for embellishment in extraordinary situations.
Kief is a founding director of The Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest and is a driving force in the continued growth.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
TONI: My name was recognized the other day, and it wasn’t the FBI.
Her mother had bought one of my books for her mother; now all three generations have read the book. She proceeded to buy the next one for Grandma Connie.
I’ve also made friends with authors in other countries, and we have read each others work. They have me reading genres I never would have tried.
SADYE: Which period of history would you most like to travel back to and which historical figure would you most like to meet?
TONI: I’m old enough to not want to go to any time that there isn’t running water and indoor toilets.
Although I would love to drink with Dorothy Parker one afternoon. Now that I think of it, maybe Mary Magdalene — I have questions.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
TONI: One of my first readers of Old Baggage wrote a long review about how I had captured the inside look and self dialogue of an abused woman.
She mentioned the authenticity of a woman making a truly difficult decision.
Then she ended with “I began to cheer her on and watch her heal. I got busy about 1/3 through, but the book kept calling me back. I'm glad I listened.”
I had a couple exes, one from fifty-three years ago, contact me or a friend to see if they were in the book. I apparently have a type.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
TONI: My main message is that people don’t move to storage and wait to die after retirement — that there is a lot more in us older folks, so stand back.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
TONI: I think it is my age. I started writing at sixty and self published because after a certain age you don’t have forever to wait to be rejected.
I’ve spent a lot of years unknowingly building stories that are hard to believe, and some of the most amazing are true.
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Categories: Author Interview