TONI DWIGGINS: THE JELLYFISH IN SKELETON SEA ARE REAL
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
The fourth part of thrilling Forensic Geology Series was published in May. Toni Dwiggins continues with the adventures of Cassie and Walter after they took a new case in Skeleton Sea. Once again the response of the readers was very nice with average 4.4 Amazon stars. It’s a great pleasure to welcome for the first time at Land of Books Toni Dwiggins.
– Toni, what is your book Skeleton Sea about?
– Two forensic geologists investigate the mystery of a ‘ghost ship’–a fishing boat found adrift without a fisherman aboard. They soon discover that the mystery goes deeper, down into a subsea cavern where a man with a toxic agenda is at work on a project that threatens the California seas. Climate change, warming oceans, and oxygen-starved waters set the scene.
– How did you decide to write the story of Forensic Geology series?
– I have always been a rockhound—and long been a writer—and one day I came across a book about forensic geology. Very cool: my two great passions came together! Forensic geologists analyze earth evidence left at scenes of crimes and crises, and this usually takes them deep into the outdoors (another passion of mine).
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
My books are mystery/thrillers and the stories must, firstly, entertain. But the books are also based on science, and I need to get the science right.
I’m not a geologist—nor a volcanologist, marine scientist, radiation specialist, toxicologist… But I keep getting interested in these fields, and all the things that can go wrong and lead to (hopefully) thrilling stories. Fortunately, I keep finding scientists who are willing to help me and to read the stories and keep me on track.
– Tell us something more about your main character Cassie and Walter? Are they close to someone from your real life?
– Cassie is in her late twenties, early thirties (as the books progress), attractive although not a major head-turner, smart (got to solve those crimes), strong in mind and body but not kick-ass (must survive threats, but believably), trusting and thus often vulnerable, dedicated to doing right but sometimes getting things wrong, prone to make a joke when things get tense, bit of a nerd. She’s younger, smarter, braver, and gets into a lot more trouble than I do.
Walter is in his sixties, face like an eroding cliff, smart and occasionally wise, overcoming a small stroke and not as strong as he thinks (he thinks he’s kick-ass), loyal to a fault and thus often vulnerable, dedicated to doing right but sometimes getting things wrong and loathe to admit it, can’t make a joke to save his life but loves to laugh, too old to be called a nerd. Walter is a combination of my stepfather (named Wally) and a forensic geologist who taught me the basics.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– About a year. What with all the research I do, I am not a speedy writer.
– Who are you (Would you describe yourself with few sentences)?
– I’m a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What I like most about my state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. I like it so much I’ve set my forensic geology series in those settings. My hobbies are reading (natch), kayaking and hiking and skiing, playing the recorder (a starter flute), and watching pelicans. Random stuff: my favorite food is cheese (I’m with you, Wallace and Grommit). My guilty pleasure is the TV show Man Vs Wild. The coolest place I’ve traveled to: Machu Picchu (there are a lot of rocks there, so I may send my geologists there in a future book)
– What are your writing habits?
– Here’s my routine: coffee, breakfast, coffee, write, a little social networking, research, coffee, write, stretch, write, lunch, long walk, tea, write, social networking…veg out. As for the writing, I start each day going over the previous day’s work, doing some smoothing and problem-fixing as needed. That gets me back into the story.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– I recently had a promotion for my box set and sold several thousand copies in one day. That was more than satisfying! And I began the next day wanting to sell even more. It’s like eating potato chips.
Same thing happens on small-sales days. I’m delighted to have sales, and then I think, can I have more please?
Of course, earning money by selling books is very satisfying, but my primary pleasure comes from adding new readers. With every sale, I am thrilled that somebody was interested enough to want to read my book.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– I use promotion sites (BookBub gave me that previously mentioned multi-thousand-sales day) every couple of months, putting a book on sale. I network with readers and other writers, mostly on facebook. I connect with readers via my website; I love getting mail and always answer and occassionally form friendships that way.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– I’ve just begun to write it—slowly, I’m afraid, as is my pattern—so I can’t give a solid date. It is set at the Grand Canyon, the greatest geological setting in the world!–and involves river running and canyon exploring and caving and all manner of outdoor adventure. There is a serious framework, the ongoing drought in the American southwest, and the shrinking water resources and resulting water wars.
– You mentioned with passion your home state California. What kind of self-confidence is giving to you the fact that you are able to live in one of the most attractive states in USA?
– I’ve lived in California my entire life, and most likely will remain here. So, it’s home. I’ve traveled most of the state, north to south, west to east. Right now I live in the so-called Silicon Valley, and I travel up to San Francisco whenever I get the chance. If I could choose any place to live in California, it would be on the coast with an ocean view. A shack on the beach would be fine…mmm-hmmm.
– What is the meaning of the word Californication for you?
– I think it refers to Californians going to other (usually nearby) states and acting as if these places should be more like California. Certainly, my home state has many wonderful qualities but it also can be self-absorbed. I sure try not to be an ‘ugly Californian’ when I travel. I much prefer to learn about and enjoy the culture and history of the places I visit. (Although I drew the line at eating the national dish of Peru when I visited—guinea pig. My daughters had pet guinea pigs and would have been appalled!)
– What you did for living before you start to write?
– I’ve always worked with words. Proofreader, translator, copy-editor, textbook writer…and then finally I settled into making up my own stories. Much more fun!
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– Question: are the jellyfish in Skeleton Sea real? Yes. Although I take some dramatic license with bioengineering, the jellyfish science is all plausible, according to a marine expert who consulted. And the scary big boy—the Nomura—really exists. Check him out here: https://vimeo.com/23993910
Take a look at her books:
Quicksilver (The Forensic Geology Series Book 1)
Badwater (The Forensic Geology Series Book 2)
Volcano Watch (The Forensic Geology Series Book 3)
Skeleton Sea (The Forensic Geology Series Book 4)